Glitz, glamour and a rocking party

2009-12-05 00:00

CAPE Town, never a city to shirk a party, came to life for last night’s colourful, slickly-run 2010 Fifa World Cup Final Draw at the city’s International Convention Centre.

Seldom can such an impressive array of international and local stars have gathered for a single event held in South Africa.

On the city’s Long Street, blocked off for a street party followed by a viewing of the draw on a big screen, some 20 000 people packed the street.

The draw itself, in the fashion of the Preliminary Draw held in Durban in November 2007, went like clockwork. After a recorded message from former president Nelson Mandela, President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter opened proceedings.

Zuma said the World Cup will stay in Africa.

“We are very proud as South Africans, as well as the continent of Africa to host the Fifa World Cup for the first time,” the president said. “We are also proud as South Africans that we have been able to keep time — everything has gone according to schedule.”

Artists Johnny Clegg, Angelique Kidjo and the Soweto Gospel Choir performed during the draw.

Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke, who conducted the draw with the guest presenter, actress Charlize Theron, gave the World Cup in South Africa a vote of confidence.

“I have been working now in South Africa, with South Africa, with the Local Organising Commitee since May 2004, and yes, all, the people watching the Final Draw please join us next year because South Africa will be the greatest World Cup ever organised,” he said.

During the ceremony, Mozambican-born Eusebio, top scorer for Portugal in the 1966 World Cup, and Cameroon’s 1990 hero Roger Milla were identified among the audience.

The atmosphere at the Fan Fest on Long Street was unbelievable. A spectrum of foreigners, members of the city’s diverse inhabitants from the rest of Africa, and South Africans of all ages partied until late.

At the ICC the celebrities and dignitaries arriving were watched by a crowd in the street and in a parking garage overlooking the ICC Former Bafana Bafana legends Doctor Khumalo, Phil Masinga and Lucas Radebe drew a big cheer from that quarter. Radebe said the draw is another indication South Africa can pull off the hosting of the World Cup.

“You saw when we hosted the Confed Cup we did very well,” he said. “We understand the World Cup is a much bigger stage and it is a great responsibility for us.

“If you take a look at Cape Town today, it’s the Rainbow Nation, and this is only for the draw. Today has shown us what it’s going to be like in 2010.”

Former president F.W. de Klerk, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, former Bafana coaches Clive Barker and Jomo Sono and businessman Sol Kerzner also arrived on the red carpet.

The biggest cheers were for draw assistants John Smit, Matthew Booth, Makhaya Ntini, David Beckham and Simphiwe Dludlu, and President Zuma and Blatter, who arrived together accompanied by Zulu dancers.

Asked what 2010 means for South Africa, Smit said: “I think it’s already meant so much and it hasn’t even started yet. If you look at the development of the stadiums and the employment for the people, I think it’s excellent for the country.”

Football luminaries included national team coaches Joachim Loew of Germany, Fabio Cappello of England and Raymond Domenech of France, former German great and ex-coach Franz Beckenbauer and France great and Uefa head Michel Platini.

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