2010 looms

2008-09-06 00:00

For many months now, the prospect of hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup has been a yardstick for measuring the nation’s standing and progress. Does the country have the capacity to pull this thing off? Will the stadiums be ready? Will crime really be under control? Whether it is pessimism or optimism that prevails, 2010 has assumed a major role in the national psyche.

With Fifa issuing logistical information about its planning this past week, things are starting to take real shape. In just over four month’s time, some two million tickets will go on sale to the public worldwide. For the event 55 000 rooms will be needed, and 14 000 new upmarket coaches and 10 000 taxis will be commissioned for transport. As kick-off approaches, so the scale of the event becomes ever more impressive — or perhaps daunting.

Some, too, are looking beyond 2010 and asking about the long-term benefits to the country. Will, for example, the controversial Gautrain serve much other purpose than a fast rail link to O.R. Tambo airport? Will the stadiums ever be fully utilised again? To some extent, the post-2010 value of the tournament must depend on its actual staging. Success will surely impress the world, boost confidence and fuel further development. It is a cause worth supporting whole-heartedly. Meanwhile, this weekend’s match against Nigeria may be a key pointer to how the nation will perform on the soccer pitch — which is, after all, at the heart of the whole affair.

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