The executive committee of FIFA announced this weekend that South Africa has been rewarded with the honor of hosting the 2010 World Cup, setting off celebrations all around the country. This is a bit of retribution for the now Democratic African nation. It had been favored to secure the 2006 World Cup, but lost by one vote to Germany after a member of the FIFA executive committee, Charles Dempsey of New Zealand, controversially abstained from voting. However, this time South Africa prevailed, beating Morocco by a 14 votes to 10 margin. As part of a new plan to rotate the event among continents, FIFA decided only African nations could contend for this World Cup.
"We can all applaud Africa," Joseph S. Blatter, president of FIFA, said in making yesterday's announcement. "The victor is football. The victor is Africa." Nelson Mandela held aloft the World Cup trophy at the press conference and said that he felt "like a young man of 50" upon hearing the news.
South Africa has plenty of experince hosting major, multi-cultural sporting events, as evidenced when it played host to the 1995 rugby World Cup (which South Africa won) and the 2003 cricket World Cup.
Before voting on the 2010 host, the world soccer governing body, FIFA, published a report evaluating the readiness of the five nations vying for the right to organize the tournament. The report said South Africa was the only one ready to host right now.
President Thabo Mbeki said Saturday that preparations for the World Cup would start immediately. Most of the needed stadiums already exist, including Johannesburg's Soccer City, which will be extended and renovated for the opening match and final. Only four proposed venues in Pretoria, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth and Kimberley need to be built.