29 June 2010
Cape Town’s three-kilometre Fan Mile from the city centre to the majestic Green Point Stadium has become a hit with international fans, offering a fusion of cultures, a melting pot of different nationalities, and a place for supporters to congregate en route to the stadium.
Last Thursday, a record 72 910 people were on the Fan Walk. On Tuesday, Cape Town will look to set a new benchmark when European champions Spain take on Portugal in a highly anticipated round of 16 contest that will attract thousands more football lovers to the Mother City.
Cape Town can be cold and wet in winter, yet the city has found innovative ways to entice fans.
Supporters travel in droves from the city centre, meandering along the breath-taking V&A Waterfront as they make their way to Green Point. This 20-minute route is popular not only for the landmarks along the route, but because of the wonderful atmosphere fans are experiencing.
At the final group match in Cape Town, the Netherlands’ “Orange Army” mixed with Cameroon’s equally brightly-clothed fans to create a colourful montage on the Fan Walk. And Fifa.com took the opportunity speak to a number of fans about their experience here.
Dutchman Cornie Jansen, who had only landed in South Africa a few hours beforehand, hailed the “unbelievable” atmosphere. He said: “To be honest, I didn’t expect something like this here in Cape Town. A friend of mine suggested we take the Fan Walk, and it turned out to be a brilliant experience.
“I met so many other fans from back home,” Jansen said. “The most important thing is, we all share the same goals, we all want Netherlands to win the World Cup. In my first few hours in Cape Town, I have fallen in love with this city.”
Another Netherlands fan, Roel de Jonge, has been following Bert van Marwijk’s team around the country along with his friend Antoine Pruijssers. He said: “I have been to Durban and Johannesburg, but I have to say that Cape Town stands out. Of course I’m told that in the last few days the weather has been bad, but today, it’s perfect.
“Today, I walked more than three kilometres to the stadium, and the experience was among my best football memory – the people here are extremely friendly, the city is beautiful,” De Jonge said.
“I’m sure a lot of people, including myself, have been surprised by what they have seen in South Africa so far, it’s been an awesome experience on and off the field.”
City of Cape Town spokesperson Pieter Cronje said: “The fears have been allayed and positive media coverage has spread a confident and optimistic message to audiences across the globe.
“The city is also seeing that an increasing number of people are coming to the public areas to experience the World Cup and to be part of the festivities on match days, even though they do not have tickets for the games,” Cronje said. “The Fan Walk in particular has proven extremely popular, even with non-ticket holders and has become an integral part of the World Cup in Cape Town.”
The Fifa Fan Fest™ on Cape Town’s Grand Parade has hosted more than 234 000 people.
The V&A Waterfront is enjoying trading similar to summer peak-season levels, and is reporting daily visits of between 150 000 and 160 000 people, according to the city’s statistics.
After Spain-Portugal on Tuesday, the Green Point Stadium will also stage the quarter-final match between Argentina and Germany on Saturday, and a semi-final on 6 July.