SA TIMES – This will go down in history as South Africa 2010 remains the first and only Soccer World Cup to have been hosted on the African continent. In a historic moment in 2004, South Africa clinched the right to host the 19th edition of the tournament after agonisingly missing out by a 12-11 vote count to Germany for the 2006 showpiece.
“We really took a chance to again bring Nelson Mandela to the announcement ceremony of the host country in Zurich, because we weren’t sure we’d win after narrowly losing out to Germany before,” Jordaan told SA Times.
“But we took the chance and the actual ceremony was agonising as Sepp Blatter, forever the showman, took such a long time to finally open the envelope.
“When we saw the top of the S, we all jumped before he could even get a chance to fully announce the name.
“It was a very special moment and Madiba, who was so happy, he turned to us and said he felt like a 15-year-old again. He said, ‘I listened to the 1966 World Cup on the radio and never expected to be sitting here seeing my country being named to host a World Cup’. So it was a special moment for him.”
Hosting a successful tournament in itself was a massive achievement for South Africa. There were many doubts whether an African country had the ability and the necessary infrastructure to pull it off.
More than three million spectators attended 64 matches in nine host cities. This was, at the time, the third highest aggregate attendance – behind only the 1994 World Cup in the US and the 2006 tournament in Germany.
“A strange thing happened, where for the first time in international football, immediately after we were awarded the event, there were calls for a ‘Plan B’ for South Africa,” Jordaan adds.
“So I think the eventual success of the event helped to dismiss Afro-pessimism and all the negativity around us as hosts.”
The tournament kicked off on 11 June 2010, and for the next month South Africans of all races and backgrounds came together, dressed in their yellow Bafana Bafana jerseys, to embrace “the people’s game”.
From 11 June to 11 July, as a fan, you knew exactly what your plans for the weekend were and which match or fan park you’d be attending. “It was the most unifying moment in the history of South Africa,” Jordaan said.
“Because everybody owned the World Cup. The people of South Africa were all involved and it showed the transformative ability of football.
“It was an event that was for all of us and, during that period from 11 June to 11 July, everyone would agree was the best that South Africa could offer and was a wonderful opportunity for the country.”