World Cup Fan Fests come alive

14 June 2010

It was not just the 84 490 fans seated in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium that celebrated the start of Africa’s historic World Cup on Friday. Aside from the estimated 500-million global television viewers, more than 400 000 fans celebrated at the 16 official Fan Fests and other public viewing areas both in South Africa and abroad.

The opening match between South Africa and Mexico was followed by 300 000 enthusiasts at the Fan Fests in the host nation, while over 100 000 people attended the six international Fan Fests in Rome, Paris, Berlin, Sydney, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro.

The largest spectator groups were at the Fan Fests in Johannesburg and Soweto, with over 75 000 apiece. In Mexico City, meanwhile, 50 000 gathered at Zocalo to support El Tri against Bafana Bafana.

‘We are the lucky generation’

At Elkah Stadium, the official Fifa Fan Fest in Soweto, 40 000 fans gathered to celebrate the first game of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. As the whistle blew to begin play on the pitch, a cacophany of sound emanated from the fans – the 2010 Fifa World Cup had officially started.

In Thokoza Park, a public viewing area near Elkah Stadium, thousands of residents stood dancing, blowing their vuvuzelas and waving South African flags. “I am so happy this day has arrived,” said Matthew Jabula. “We are the lucky generation! It feels so great to be out with everyone celebrating South Africa’s World Cup.”

‘I’ve never seen anything like it’

John Kretlow is from the USA, but for the opening game he was supporting Mexico in Thokoza Park. “We were the only Mexico fans in the crowd, I think,” said Kretlow. “But everyone was super nice and wanted to know where we were from and get to know us.”

Kretlow travelled to the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany, but has never experienced anything like the South African football spirit. “I’ve never seen anything like it. The people here really know how to live it, it’s totally different, I’ve never seen so much excitement in my life.”

Cape Town goes crazy

The tournament may have kicked off in Johannesburg, but Cape Town certainly showed that the Mother City can throw a party – in both the Fan Fests and at Green Point Stadium, which hosted France vs Uruguay.

Cape Town crowds exploded at the Grand Parade, which is host to the Fifa Fan Fest, as 18 000 people watched Bafana Bafana and Mexico open the first match. And after the final whistle the crowds made their way toward Green Point stadium for Cape Town’s opening match.

A French supporter, who introduced himself as Jacques, said: “I’ve been here for three days and I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. The stadium looks beautiful, and I hope my team wins tonight!”

Fifa Fan Fests

The Fifa Fan Fests were an enormous success story at Germany 2006, when millions of people of all genders, religions, races and ages watched the matches peacefully together.

The Fan Fests are continuing in 2010 as the recommended alternative for fans who do not have a ticket to the stadium. They also offer supporters around the globe the opportunity to watch all 64 South Africa 2010 matches and feel truly part of the tournament.

The International Fifa Fan Fests are organized at six iconic locations around the world:

  • Berlin – Olympic Stadium (11-18 June) / Strasse des 17. Juni (23 June-11 July)
  • Rome – Piazza di Siena, in Vila Borghese
  • Paris – Les Jardins du Trocadero
  • Rio de Janeiro – Copacabana beach
  • Mexico City – Zocalo
  • Sydney – Darling Harbour

Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee