World Cup optimism running high

8 June 2010

Football fever has well and truly taken hold of South Africa, with public opinion towards the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ overwhelmingly positive and optimism surrounding the national team’s chances remarkably robust, according to latest market research.

The findings from the fifth instalment of a six-wave survey, conducted on Fifa’s behalf in May, “reinforce a strong sense of pride in South Africa hosting football’s showcase event (92%), a firm belief that it will be a success (86%), as well as an eager anticipation for the competition to begin (86%),” Fifa said in a statement on Monday.

The survey was based on face-to-face interviews with 1 000 South African respondents in all nine World Cup host cities.

Asked to name whom they would be rooting for during the competition, 63% of respondents (unsurprisingly) said “South Africa”, followed by 11% for Brazil and 4% England (4%).

Strong optimism in the national side, Bafana Bafana, was reflected in respondents’ answers as to who they thought would win the trophy: five-times world champions Brazil (37%) were cited as favourites, followed by South Africa (13%) and Spain (8%).

Thirteen percent expected South Africa to reach the final, while 22% believed the host nation would not make it past the group stage.

According to the survey, the player the majority of South Africans are looking forward to seeing in action is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (17%), followed by Argentina’s Lionel Messi (12%) and Brazil’s Kaka (10%).

But regardless of which teams are playing on any particular day, South Africans will be following the tournament closely – a mere 3% of respondents said they would only watch matches when South Africa played.

Thirty-eight percent said they planned to watch as many matches as possible, while 29% said they would watch every game.

As in the previous surveys, the majority of respondents maintained high expectations for the potential long-term benefits, both tangible and intangible, of hosting the World Cup.

Eight-nine percent expected the tournament to leave a lasting legacy and be remembered fondly over generations, 80% felt it would unite the people of South Africa, and 93% believed the images of the country beamed out across the world would lure more tourists in future.

SAinfo reporter

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