Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Limited 12-hour humanitarian truce takes effect in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Paris march for Gaza to go ahead Saturday despite police ban

    Read more

  • Kerry due in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Sport

Mandela to miss opening celebration after family death

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-06-11

There is both euphoria and apprehension in South Africa as the World Cup kicks off on Friday amid news that Nelson Mandela will not attend the opening celebrations after his great-granddaughter was killed in a car crash, allegedly by a drunk driver.

The 2010 World Cup kicks off in South Africa on Friday with the home team facing Mexico in Johannesburg’s 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium. In the day’s other match, a jittery France will play Uruguay in Cape Town.

But if the eyes of the world are turned toward South Africa with particular intensity, it is not only out of passion for football. An image of racial reconciliation, the affirmation of an often troubled post-apartheid nation, future investment, and millions of tourist dollars are also at stake in this year’s tournament.

Meanwhile, a tragic shadow was cast over the proceedings on Friday, when news emerged that former South African President Nelson Mandela would not attend the World Cup’s opening celebrations and first match, after his 13-year-old great granddaughter was killed in a car crash leaving a concert ahead of the tournament’s start. Mandela, now a frail 91 years old, has been widely credited with helping South Africa win the World Cup bid in 2004.

Still, African leaders are hoping the logistically daunting event will allow the continent to shed persistent stereotypes of disaster, strife, and failure, and prove its competence and readiness for further development.

And as South Africans of all backgrounds bask in their long-awaited moment in the global spotlight, their enthusiasm for hosting the World Cup has overshadowed doubts about their team’s ability. Once derided as hopeless under-achievers, and, at 83 in the rankings, one of the lowest ranked teams to host the World Cup, South African footballers are enjoying a new status as national heroes. The team has also been buoyed by a streak of 12 victories.

“People are very excited, they’re waving their flags, they’re all anticipating watching the game,” FRANCE 24 correspondent Eva Gilliam reported from Cape Town. “Even the local trade union has asked businesses to close early so everyone can watch the game”.

Security concerns and lagging ticket sales

If South African euphoria seems mostly immune to anxieties about hosting such a massive international event in a nation scarred by a stormy past, there have nevertheless been a handful of reminders.

Aside from the accident involving Mandela’s great granddaughter, a string of other accidents and crimes in recent days have shed light on security challenges in one of the world’s most violent countries outside a war zone.

Three Greek players, eleven tourists, and three Chinese journalists were robbed on Thursday, some of them at gunpoint. On the same day, six people were injured in a crowd crush at Cape Town’s main World Cup fan zone and three British tourists were killed in a car accident.

These safety concerns, along with global economic conditions and the practical difficulties of travelling to and within South Africa, have resulted in lagging ticket sales. According to an Associated Press report, half a million seats (nearly a quarter of the tournament total) are still available; without accelerated sales, organisers are bracing themselves for sections of empty seats at the stadiums, especially for matches featuring less popular teams.

Gilliam noted that indeed “next to all this excitement, there is a bit of apprehension. South Africa really has to pull this off if they want to be seen as the success they hope to be”.

But for the next several hours, at least, South Africans will try to put aside the stresses and distractions that go along with having the World Cup take place at home. The Brazilian manager of the South African team, Carlo Alberto Parreira, explained on Thursday that his team was focusing on football.

“We have a World Cup game,” he said. “We want to make this country proud”.

Date created : 2010-06-11

  • WORLD CUP 2010

    South Africa draw 1-1 against Mexico in World Cup opener

    Read more

  • WORLD CUP 2010

    Thousands celebrate start of World Cup at star-studded concert

    Read more

  • WORLD CUP 2010

    World Cup festivities kick off in face of criticism

    Read more

COMMENT(S)