Hordes of supporters head for stadiums
BRIGHT shirts, scarves and hats, painted faces and a variety of noisemakers distinguish the thousands of international soccer fans descending on our stadiums over the next month.
The Bafana Bafana Fan Club was launched in Johannesburg last month and already has 588 000 members. These fans will be spotted in the stands and fan parks wearing over-sized sunglasses and ingenious makarapas, and blowing vuvuzelas.
German author Nikolaus Eberl founded the club. “Clubs like this are imperative to winning the cup. It’s all about the law of attraction. When a winning attitude and a never-say-die belief penetrates the team, anything is possible.”
Eberl, who has lived in South Africa for 16 years and is married to a South African, said if Bafana Bafana did not make it through to the second round, “I’ll walk from Cape Town to Cairo”.
While Shosholoza was a popular song, the club planned to sing two new songs, but he declined to give details. “It’s a surprise.”
Outside South Africa most tickets were sold to the US – Americans snapped up more than 100 000 tickets to the tournament. Their fan club is called “Sam’s Army”.
It was launched after the 1994 World Cup and has 15 000 members. Its website says the group is known for appearing en masse wearing red and chanting: “USA! USA! USA!” They also display huge American flags and banners, and stand throughout each match. They carry horns, drums and musical instruments. They have been known to toss smoke bombs, but this has been discouraged.
The US embassy’s Nate Holt said it was an unofficial support club. “We’re very enthusiastic about the event and we hope to meet Bafana Bafana in the finals.”
The Dutch fan club – Supportersclub Oranje – have promised to stand out as a sea of orange in support of their team, Oranje. There are about 25 000 Dutch passport holders living in Cape Town, and 5 000 have tickets to matches.
Their tour bus has been spotted in South Africa bearing the warn- ing slogan: “Don’t fear the big five – fear the Orange 11.”
Netherlands consul-general David de Waal said Oranje fans usually got into the party mood hours before a game. They also have their own orchestra. “We have also created vuvuzela stoppers – a pair of orange ear muffs in the shape of Africa. There are 800 fans following the team around the country,” he said.
Saverio Talotti, a member of the Italian Club, said many of the fans painted their faces green, white and red. But wearing azzurri (blue) was very important, as was flying the country’s flag. “Fans usually sing ‘olé, olé’ and the Italian anthem. A lot of fans will be coming from Italy, the Congo, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. If they do not have tickets for the stadium they’ll watch the matches at Italian clubs and restaurants.”