By James K. Attaglo Wilson
May 15, 2004, will forever remain ‘A Never to be Forgotten Date’ in the history of South Africa and to the entire African continent at large.
The then President of the Federation of International Football Association [FIFA], Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter announced in Zurich that South Africa had won the bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, beating Egypt and Morocco to become the first African nation to host the Mundial.
In fact, the bidding process for hosting the tournament finals was exclusively opened to African nations.
The victory was a morale booster for South Africa who had previously lost the hosting bid to Germany by a single vote in 2000 for the 2006 FIFA World Cup tournament.
At the FIFA World Cup Draw in Cape Town on December 4, 2009, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela explained what winning the bid meant to South Africa:
“Sport has the power to inspire and unite people.
“In Africa soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in the hearts of people. This is why it is so important that the FIFA World Cup will, for the first time ever, be hosted on the African continent in 2010.
“We feel privileged and humbled that South Africa has been given the singular honour of being the African host country.
“We must strive for excellence in our hosting of the World Cup while at the same time ensuring that the event leaves a lasting benefit to all our people.”
The famous anti-apartheid revolutionist and politician who served as the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 couldn’t have summed his speech any better than to link it to Africa and their struggle for freedom:
“The people of Africa learned the lessons of patience and endurance in their long struggles for freedom.
“May the rewards brought by the FIFA World Cup prove that the long wait for its arrival on African soil has been worth it.
“Ke Nako. It’s time.”
The final match of the 19th FIFA World Cup played on July 11th, 2010 at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg [South Africa] witnessed Spain, the then European Champions pip the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time to win their first and only world title.
Spain also became the eighth nation to win the tournament and the first European nation to win a World Cup hosted outside Europe.