The spotlight will be on the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) at 19h00 South African time tonight, when the 32 teams who made it through to Africa’s first Fifa World Cup and their legions of fans find out exactly where they will be playing – and who they will be playing against.
And when the final draw is beamed to millions of viewers in more than 200 countries this evening, a magnificent hall and stage fit for the occasion stands ready to play host to the dramatic proceedings. A global audience of about 200-million is expected to tune in.
South Africa’s Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron will be the guest presenter, assisting Fifa secretary-general Jérôme Valcke at the CTICC.
“I’m glowing,” said Theron in an interview with Fifa. “I’m one proud South African today. I think everyone who is South African is so proud at this moment and glad to be alive at this period in our history. This is a magical moment for all of us; for this young democracy and for all the people who have worked hard to make this country a better place.”
The pair will be joined on stage by a star-studded line-up of sports celebrities, including football star and former England captain David Beckham, one of only a few players to score in at least three consecutive Fifa World Cups; Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie, two-time Olympic gold medallist and nine-time athletics world champion; and crowd favourite Makhaya Ntini, the first black player in the South African cricket team.
Springbok captain John Smit, leader of the current rugby world champions, will also be there; as well as popular Bafana Bafana player Matthew Booth, who inspires his fans to chant “Boooooooth!” whenever he takes possession of the ball. This caused much confusion during the 2009 Confederations Cup, as foreign supporters believed the crowd was booing him.
It’s taken 3 600 working hours to set up the sprawling draw hall and 950 square metres of timber to construct the stunning African-inspired draw stage.
The platform, which boasts a giant area of 4 800 square metres, took 6.5 tons of steel and 1 600 square metres of printed material to make. It also comprises a 1.2km-long steel handrail.
The 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) Cape Town venue manager, Teral Cullen, has been the operational head of the mammoth operation – and as the excitement mounts and the event draws nearer, she’s confident things will run smoothly.
“Over the last 10 days everyone involved has put in an enormous effort. They’ve really put their noses to the ground and worked flat out, with many late nights and early mornings. The draw hall and stage is complete and rehearsals have already started. We’re very confident with our preparations, we’re ahead of schedule and ready for this event,” said Cullen.
She added that while the final draw is being delivered by a massive team of 3 254 people – including security personnel, volunteers, event staff, contractors and entertainers – the cooperation between all parties has been outstanding.
“There has been tremendous teamwork and communication between the city and provincial authorities and Fifa and the LOC. There’s been excellent communication in particular between ourselves and Fifa in terms of assessing the requirements for this event and delivering on it. All parties involved sense we’re building something special and we’re set for and working hard to deliver a spectacular event,” said Cullen.
To date, 27 of the 32 coaches have confirmed their attendance, including the well-known Carlos Dunga of Brazil, Portugal’s Carlos Queiroz, England’s Fabio Capello, Italy’s Marcello Lippi, Spain’s Vicente Del Bosque and, of course, South Africa’s Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Welcoming the world
South African President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter will welcome the audience at the beginning of the 90-minute live show. Other guests will include LOC chair Issa Hayatou; Nobel Peace Prize winners F. W. de Klerk and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; as well as former football stars Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini, Eusebio and Roger Milla.
Former South African president and Nobel Peace laureate Nelson Mandela, one of the architects of the first African World Cup, will address the audience by video message.
The final draw has attracted unprecedented worldwide interest and an on-site presence of 2 000 invited guests and more than 1 700 media representatives.
Grammy award-winners Soweto Gospel Choir, Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo and South African music icon Johnny Clegg will perform alongside the Jazzart Dance Company. The grand finale will feature 80 artists, including internationally acclaimed musical ensemble Africa Umoja.
Viewers will also be treated to a compilation of video footage showcasing South Africa, as well as significant moments in World Cup history, giving fans a taste of what to expect in six months’ time. South African television presenter Carol Manana will host this portion of the show.