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William Bermant: Soccer Excitement Builds for 2010 World Cup

South Africa readies for play on a global stage — made up of 10 stadiums

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is approaching, June 11 to July 11, when 32 teams in eight groups will compete for the trophy.

William Bermant
William Bermant

The 2010 World Cup is hosted by South Africa, a nation that has been struck by hardships of poverty and violence but will come together to make the 19th FIFA World Cup possible. Many people have found jobs constructing the new stadiums for the World Cup. There are 10 stadiums to host the 32 different nations and a total of 64 games played during the course of the month-long tournament.

The FIFA World Cup was started in 1930, and has been going consistently every four years. The only time the World Cup was not held was during World War II. The first host nation of the World Cup was Uruguay, which had the championship-winning team in the Olympic soccer tournament, winning the first World Cup on its own turf.

That first tournament was very small, consisting of 16 teams, but grew to 24 and has been expanding to allow more international teams from Africa and Asia into the World Cup. Now, for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 204 nations played to qualify, but only 32 teams advanced to the Cup.

South Africa was allowed a free pass into the World Cup for being the host nation, which has been a tradition. The venue for the World Cup rotates through many different countries that can support hosting the tournament, but is never held in the same nation twice in a row. It is also very unlikely that a country will be able to host World Cup consecutively, even though large profits are made from the hundreds of thousands of spectators who attend.

There are 10 venues for the World Cup: Durban Stadium, Ellis Park Stadium, Free State Stadium, Green Point Stadium, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Mbombela Stadium, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Peter Makoba Stadium, Royal Bafokeng Stadium and Soccer City. Many of these venues represent the history of South Africa, such as the stadium named after Nelson Mandela, who was elected president after being imprisoned for creating sabotage campaigns against the South African government and military.

Soccer City in Johannesburg is the venue for the opening match of South Africa vs. Mexico, and also for the finals. The stadiums in Johannesburg are more than a mile high, and might have an effect on the performances of teams playing at that altitude: France, Mexico, South Africa and Uruguay. Durban, Green Point, Mbombela, Nelson Mandela Bay and Peter Mokaba stadiums are all newly built. Soccer City has the largest capacity of all the venues, with 94,700 possible supporters; the smallest, Mbombela, holds 43,589 spectators.

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Every year for the World Cup, Adidas, a partner of the largest international soccer tournament, creates a new matchball, with new technology and special significance. The ball is called “Jabulani,” which means “to celebrate,” and features 11 colors to represent the 11 players who start on the field from each national team. There have been 10 World Cups, and this will be the 11th, and there also are 11 official languages and communities in South Africa. There are eight panels that are covered in a special texture that allows players to have full control of the ball even in the worst of weather. Aero grooves give the Jabulani its own distinct look and makes it even harder for the goal keepers to make the save when the ball is wiggling and curving. But as the ball changes every World Cup, the one and only World Cup trophy stays the same.

Each World Cup, hundreds of millions of people watch one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Whether people are watching in the stadium, watching their teams on TV at home, or listening by radio, people from all over the world are a part of the World Cup. In the 2006 World Cup, there were a total of 3,353,655 viewers in the stadiums in Germany, but millions more were at a public place or at home watching the games. That year, Italy won the World Cup against France in a penalty kick shootout, 5-3, with a total attendance at that game of 69,000. The World Cup is so extraordinary that plans for the 2014 began before the 2010 World Cup commenced. Brazil is the host nation for the 2014 World Cup.

Click here for the 2010 FIFA World Cup’s official Web site.

— William Bermant is a Dos Pueblos High freshman and longtime member of the Santa Barbara Soccer Club.

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