Celebrating a World Cup days before kick-off is a global first
THE FOOTBALLING world watched in awe as tens of thousands of South Africans gathered to show their support for Bafana Bafana this week.
Sandton, the financial heart of Joburg, came to a standstill as fans thronged the streets. The scene was replicated across the city and across the country, from Augrabies to Zeerus as fans of all sizes and shapes, hues and creeds put on their supporters’ kit and came out at noon to blow their vuvuzelas and sound their hooters in an unprecedented show of support for the team and excitement about the World Cup.
Now analysts are tipping South Africa to host the most successful World Cup the world has ever witnessed.
According to the 2010 Scorecard, which is an in-depth analysis of world cup preparations, South Africa has exceeded all expectations thus far and has already leapt past Germany in terms of preparations and excitement.
Dr Nikolaus Eberl, 2010 analyst and CEO of Brandovation, said the week’s celebration had sent shockwaves throughout the world.
“The celebrations on Wednesday were totally unprecedented. Never before have the host country’s fans ever celebrated before kick-off. We were shocked at what had unfolded throughout the country,” said Eberl.
He added that ahead of Germany’s World Cup in 2006 very little excitement was created.
“In Germany there was a dampened mood. It was very different compared to SA. People were anxious, moody and were very unhappy with the national team’s performance,” he said.
Eberl added that the only time that the nation had come together was after Germany had passed the group stages.
“Only eight percent of fans backed their national team so there was no vibe at all compared to that of South Africa. People began believing in their team once they passed the group stages – before that people were more anxious than ever,” said Eberl.
“South Africans showed the world that they can host a tourna- ment of any scale. It shows how much locals care about their country and how proud they were, it was fantastic and came as a shock to many of us,” he added.
Not only have the celebrations and excitement spurred on Bafana Bafana, but Eberl said Fifa were backing the national team now more than ever.
“Fifa have now come to believe that the host team can get very far in the tour nament. They have witnessed the entire country backing Bafana Bafana and they now have extra faith in the team,” said Eberl.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira also won the world body’s approval.
“Fifa have so much belief in Bafana because Carlos has led them to a 13-game unbeaten streak,” said Eberl.
Germany’s opening ceremony was a complete disaster at the start of the tournament.
“Fifa were forced to cut down the opening ceremony for the 2006 World Cup to only half an hour because they feared the grass would burn. Franz Beckenbauer was also disallowed from participating in the opening ceremony and it was a disaster,” said Eberl.
“Fans booed Sepp Blatter when he came out to speak and production had to be halted during the opening. Fans were also disappointed that they could not drink German beer in the stadium so it was a disaster,” he added.
Eberl believes SA is on the right track to host the most successful tour nament witnessed.
“South Africa shocked the world, and showed everybody that the country can host a successful tournament. The World Cup is a catalyst for national reconciliation and locals have come together to prove all disbelievers wrong,” said Eberl.
He believes that the togetherness seen this week would unite South Africans for the rest of their lives.
“Thirty-one days of national euphoria are more than enough to change the behaviour of all South Africans. Over the course of the World Cup South Africans will grow even closer and it will have lasting effects well after the World Cup,” said Eberl.
“We are pretty certain that South
has Africa will host the best World Cup ever held,” he said.
Meanwhile Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira voiced his concer ns over Wednesday’s celebrations, calling them a distraction.
The Brazilian told SuperSport that the parade had the potential to distract his players and did not send the right message, with some people celebrating as if South Africa had won the World Cup.
“I have never seen something like this in my life,” Parreira, a veteran of eight World Cups, said.
“We do not need this two days before a big match.”
So concerned was the Bafana coach that he barred players from taking part in the open-bus parade, usually reserved for victors.