On the eve of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, FIFA.com spoke to some the Host City coordinators about the mood and the atmosphere in their cities just a few hours from kickoff.
“Port Elizabeth has never had an iconic structure, like Cape Town has Table Mountain. Now we have our stadium. It has altered our skyline and we are proud of this,” said Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth Host City Coordinator, Errol Heynes.
“People have been waiting to get into the mood. We had mass Diski Dance lessons, beach festivals and football festivals. Two weeks ago we had a big party in one of the surrounding townships when FIFA President Blatter came to our city. We can’t wait for it, the whole city is in a festive mood.”
Durban is home to its eye catching new stadium, which has ensured that the city has caught World Cup fever. “People are very positive about the World Cup here in Durban, the infrastructure and beautification programmes have provided a new vibe in the city. In the future we will look back and say ‘Look at what we have done’,” said Julie-May Ellingson, Durban Host City Coordinator.
Durban is looking to its mild atmosphere, beach front and abundant accommodation as draw factors for the tournament’s fans. “It is a good season in Durban, we have made sure that we cater to a family atmosphere, in the fan zones and around the city.”
Tshwane/Pretoria has the second largest number of embassies in the worlds after Washington D.C. and as such will be hoping to leverage on this international diversity during the celebrations of the tournament. “We are hosting the South Africa versus Uruguay match in our city which we are very excited about, but we are excited about all our matches and we are going to be hospitable to all our guests, the fans are welcome,” said Tshwane/Pretoria’s Host City Coordinator, Godfrey Nkwane.
Polokwane is one of the smaller venues on the 2010 FIFA World Cup roster, but the stadium will be hosting a very big game when France and Mexico go head to head. “We are very excited by this game, we will really have the whole world in Polokwane on that day,” said Polokwane Host City Coordinator, Ndavhe Ramakuela.
The city of Mangaung/Bloemfontein has one of the strongest local fan bases in the country, this was shown in the Confederations Cup, when the supporters demonstrated their unique brand of passion. “We recognise these fans,” said George Mohlakoana, the city’s Host City Coordinator. “In fact as part of our social responsibility we have bought tickets for local fans, because it is these people who make local football what it is.”
Johannesburg is without doubt the football hub for the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup, with two match venues in the city limits and the privilege of hosting both the opening and final matches. “Our people make Joburg great. It is humbling to see the South African flag flying so high. People really want to be part of this,” said the city’s 2010 coordinator, Sibongile Khumalo “
Cape Town showed their party spirit during the Final Draw ceremony last year and already the excitement in the city is palpable. “Cape Town has its own pace,” explains Peter Cronje, the city’s Communication Director. “The atmosphere is there. There are events all over the city, the highways are lined with flags and there are so many decorations going up everywhere. As with the Final Draw, Cape Town will come to the party.”