Football Sport

What this means to Africa

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2010 issue of World Gaming magazine.

The World Cup finals come to Africa for the first time. African football has grown into something special, and the world will look on in interest.

The world of football has plenty to thank Africa for. How could we ever forget Roger Milla dancing around the corner post in Italy in 1990 for Cameroon, at the tender age of 38? Imagine the EPL without the African superstars who play for all of the major clubs. Players with the skills of Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor have brought another element to the game of football that has changed it for the better.

Africa has had its special moments in the World Cup, but this will be the first time that the oldest continent on the planet hosts the biggest sporting event of them all. Africa has its problems though, and memories of the recent shooting upon the Togo team as they travelled to the African Cup of Nations will be on everyone’s mind. The world will turn its attention to Africa and African football, and it is certainly a time for celebration – but they will only get one chance to get it right.

South Africa has come to the party and was the obvious choice as an African host, as it has the infrastructure needed to host a World Cup tournament. Make no mistake, hosting a World Cup is no easy feat – with 32 competing countries featuring highly paid athletic personalities who attract huge media and fan attention, thousands and thousands of passionate fans converging on the country from all corners of the globe, 64 games, nine host cities and 10 host stadiums. Outside of the Olympics you wouldn’t find a sporting event that pushes every part of a country to its limits like the World Cup.

South Africa has come a long way in a short period of time. South Africa will only be the second country to host the World Cup (the US being the other) where football is an emerging sport, not the dominating sport. Rugby and cricket are the national sports of South Africa, but football is certainly the emerging powerhouse. Rugby and cricket officials have made huge efforts to cater to all South Africans, but for many of the black majority, football is their passion and the one true sporting voice of Africa.