So then, the baton (or dare I say torch) has been passed to South Africa, who will be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Only three-and-a-bit years to go, but the following extract from a news item on FIFAworldcup.com:
If the 2006 FIFA World Cup saw Germany in the best light, then 2010 will be opening a window on Africa. The next FIFA World Cup, said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, will be “an African and South African World Cup”. Underlining the vibrant, animated continent that football followers will discover, Mr Blatter offered the metaphor: “There will be a lot of drums.”
Many recognise that hosting a FIFA World Cup in South Africa will bring hope and capture the imagination of the continent. The 2010 finals have received support from humanitarians such as George Weah, Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton who are involved in projects such as ‘Win in Africa, with Africa’ and the African Legacy Programme.
South Africa has enjoyed backing not only from these international figureheads but also from its own government, clearly illustrated by President Thabo Mbeki’s presence at the unveiling of the tournamentâ€™s official emblem in Berlin on 7 July. He invited the world to witness and participate in 2010, saying: “Africa is ready, Africaâ€™s time has come, Africa is calling. Come to Africa in 2010!”
Unlike Germany, South Africa has 11 official languages but the lesson that the FIFA World Cupâ€™s African hosts will have learnt from events in Germany is that only one language matters. That one true tongue, to quote Kofi Annan, is “the universal language of football”.
That’s the spirit folks. I, for one, can’t wait!