3 June 2010
South Africa’s majestic Soccer City Stadium, venue for both the opening and final match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup™, has won rave reviews from Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who described it as “a five-star stadium” and one of the most beautiful in the world.
Speaking during the official stadium hand-over ceremony in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning, Blatter said Soccer City – which resembles an African calabash with its round shape and charming patchwork of colours – was “one of the best venues” in the world.
“This is a great day for Fifa, to be here at this magnificent stadium,” Blatter said. “The minister of sport, Mr Stofile, said Soccer City is the flagship for South Africa and the African continent. I will go further and say this stadium is a flagship of the world.
“It is one of the most beautiful stadiums; I can compare it with Wembley Stadium just outside London.”
A job well done
Blatter told South Africans that they should be proud of their efforts to make the World Cup a success.
“Yes this is a Fifa World Cup, but the people who have done the homework and the hard work are South Africans. We would therefore want to express thanks to them.
“What will happen at this stadium is part of history – you will have eight games played by some of the best teams. Some of the best players in the world are going to play in this venue. Now that the stadiums are ready, the whole world will now focus on South Africa.
“The world is now going through emotions, waiting for the games to begin.”
Blatter said that one of his wishes was to see Nelson Mandela at the opening game between hosts South Africa and Mexico on 11 June.
“The biggest legacy of this World Cup will be the celebration of African humanity, and no one better represents that than Nelson Mandela. We hope that Madiba will be at the opening game here; this has been part of his legacy, and he has worked hard for this project.”
Waiting for the world
Speaking on behalf of the South African government, Sport and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile said he had no doubt that Africa’s first Fifa World Cup would be “like no other; it will be different in many ways.
“We have travelled a long road to be where we are, we have experienced setbacks, but importantly, we have tasted many victories,” Stofile said. “This has been a unique journey for this country. Our stadiums are all ready, the road and infrastructure is in place. We are now waiting for the people to come and be part of this event.”
Following the Soccer City handover, Blatter also opened the International Broadcast Centre – the hub of broadcast production for the World Cup – which is located next to the stadium.