Jun 10, 2010
The much awaited 19th FIFA World Cup is almost set to begin in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010 with 32 teams finally geared up to do battle for the supremacy in world soccer. South Africa becomes the first African nation to get the rights to host the most popular FIFA world cup.
The best of the best will be seen in action where the winners will boot away with a mammoth prize money of $30 million while the runners up will get $24 million dollars. The losing semi finalists are assured of a cool $20 millions as well. This apart, FIFA also gives each participating team $1 million as preparation costs before the finals. Each and every team in South Africa is assured of a slice of the prize money depending on their progress in the tourney. As the entire world watches the spell binding action, at least 49 million South African supporters will hope and pray that their own team wins a few games and show their presence.
The FIFA World Cup is assumed to be the biggest sporting event after the Olympic games and has its own class and appeal and has an unbelievable television audience which cannot be surpassed by any other activity. At least, an estimated three million international visitors and billions of television viewers will be focussed for four weeks with all that happens on the 10 soccer stadiums of South Africa.
In the process, South Africa will benefit immensely with huge revenues generated from tourism as well as other sources. It is estimated by consulting firm Grant Thornton that the World Cup will pump around R21.3 billion into South Africa’s economy with an estimated R12.7 billion in direct spending and creating an estimated 160000 new jobs.
For this year’s FIFA World Cup 32 teams have qualified and the groupings are as follows:
Team Groupings (4 teams in each group – 32 teams)
Group ‘A’ South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group ‘B’ Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece
Group ‘C’ England, USA, Algeria , Slovenia
Group ‘D’ Germany, Australia, Serbia , Ghana
Group ‘E’ Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group ‘F’ Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group ‘G’ Brazil, Korea DPR, Cote d’Ivoire , Portugal
Group ‘H’ Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Every team has taken great pains to reach this final stage and it won’t be a cake walk even for the reputed ones. Although Spain and Brazil are the bookmaker’s favourites with such an array of players in their ranks, there are teams like Argentina, England, Germany, Italy and others who can come up with startling performances on the international stage. Each and every competing team boasts of match winners like Ronaldo, Rooney, Kaka, Messi, Drogba, Xavi, Cannavaro, Obafemi, Gerrard, Klose, Etoo, Forlan, Torres, Veron, Buffon, Ribery, Fabiano, Gilardino, Blanco, Pienaar, Donovan, Cahill, Essien, Vidic, Mark van Bommel, Robben, Roque Santa Cruz, Carvalho, Villa, and others who are expected to shine for their team. At the same time, every World Cup comes up with new and stars of the future.
The official mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is Zakumi, a leopard with green hair. His name comes from ‘ZA’ the international abbreviation for South Africa and ‘kumi’ a word that means ten in various African languages. The mascot's colours reflect those of the host nation's playing strip – yellow and green. Andries Odendaal, from Cape Town, created the original character design.
Like in every World Cup, there are so many interesting things taking place. The official match ball for the FIFIA World Cup which is named ‘Jabulani’ means ‘bringing joy to everyone’. The ball made by Adidas is a technologically advanced ball by the World famous German sports equipment manufacturer. Interestingly, the ball features eleven colours, one for each player on the field and resembles the eleven official languages of South Africa. Also a point to note is that the event will start on the eleventh of June and end on the eleventh of July. However, for the final match, another ball with gold panels will be used. The ball will be called “Jo’bulani” to match with the city of Johannesburg’s nickname ‘The Golden City’ where the finals will be played.
The ball is a highly technological innovation using a new design, consisting of eight thermally-bonded, three-dimensional panels. The design has received considerable academic input, being developed in partnership with researchers from Loughborough University, U.K.
South Africa has gone out of its way to set up 10 top class stadiums all over the country where the matches will be played. The Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg where the finals will be played has a capacity for 90000 people at least.
The FIFA World Cup which takes place once in four years in a new country and continent always is a huge international activitiy that engulfs numerous soccer lovers and officials including the richest football players no end. There is massive preparation and planning and it is everyone’s delight to be present at such an event. Not only the players, even the spectators and team supporters add colour to the entire competition in their own boisterous way. Every football player worth his name and fame aspires to see action at the World Cup for his country. Just as the competition begins, there have been so many heart broken players who have missed selection either due to poor form or last minute injury that has kept them out of the national side. Likewise, some of the eminent coaches have prepared their teams on a war footing with nothing to spare. Some managers have even asked the players’ wives and girl friends not to be seen in South Africa for a month at least. The England manager has even barred his players from chatting and tweeting to concentrate on the job on hand. It is fair to say that the entire world comes to a standstill when the FIFA World Cup finals take place ! And at the end of the finals one top scorer in the tournament will emerge to take home the prestigious Golden Boot award while the winning team will lift the FIFA World Cup watched by Royalty, world leaders, commoners and the applauding spectators.
To sum it all, a whopping 64 games played at 10 stadiums will be handled by 30 referees drawn from various countries with a total of 736 players from 32 teams in action over 25 match days. What a mind boggling logistics to handle ! This is apart from the numerous specialists who will flock to South Africa as TV commentators, journalists, photographers, analysts, pundits, tourists and what not.
Having been a witness to the 1998 France World Cup and seen a match between Paraguay and Bulgaria played in Montpellier (south of France) I can easily vouch and say that it is always a thrill to see the excitement and fanfare that is part and parcel of the World Cup spectacle. There is so much fun, color and entertainment at the various venues which you simply cannot avoid and forget. If you ever get a chance to be see the action live don’t you ever miss it ! The FIFA World Cup is a once-in-a-life kind of experience. The football, food, fun, fellowship and frenzy makes it worth its weight in the winning goal..
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