The clock is ticking down to the the first World Cup on the Africa continent next year as South Africa braces itself for up to 500,000 international visitors over the one month duration of the tournament. Despite initial concerns about infrastructural problmes, crime and the impact of the global financial slowdown the country appears to be on track to host the most colourful and vibrant tournament yet.
South Africa beat off stiff regional competition to secure the 2010 world cup after Fifa annoucned that the tournament would be held in Africa for the first time. Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia put in a strong challenge during the early rounds of voting during the selection process but it was broadly agreed that South Africa were the best placed of the competitors to host the international specticle.
The World Cup will make use of 10 state-of-the-art venues spread across the country allowing the travelling supporter to really get a feel for the country. The ‘Soccer City’ venue in Johannesberg will both open and close the tournamant and is an impressive 94,000 all-seater venue. Other cities hosting the action will be the beautiful Cape-town on the coast, busy Pretoria and the Free State capital of Bloemfontain. No stadium seats bellow 40,000 spectators and all will meet stringent Fifa standards of quality.
The world cup has naturally been big news in South Africa and enthusiasm for the event was apparent when the organizers made a national appeal for volunteers to help with the smooth running of the opertation. 11,000 applied to help on the first day applications opened and this included 1,500 for other African nations. Further to this, there are promising signs that the event is having a positive regional impact upon South Africa’s neighbours, especially Zimbabwe. With such a large number of foreign visitors arriving accomodation concerns have been raised, especially considering that Fifa itself demands 55,000 rooms for its football family exclusively. Zimbabwe appears to be gearing itself up to play a part with news of improvements to its luxury accomodation at Victoria Falls, as well as rumours that the England squad have considered making Zimbabwe their base for the duration of the tournament.
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