Day 30: Berlin celebrates, while South Africa looks to a new beginning
Africa calling! It was Africa's day in Berlin on 7 July 2006, two days prior to the Final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The South African Organising Committee (OC) presented the Official Emblem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup during a lively and impressive two-hour show at the Tempodrom event hall.
General Secretary of the United Nations Kofi Annan, who had come especially from New York for the event, concluded his speech with a word of thanks for the organisers of the current FIFA World Cup. "My best wishes go to the people of Germany," he said. "Their team may not be represented in Sunday's Final, but they are already winners. They are victorious, because they have organised the best tournament in the history of the World Cup, and because a whole nation was able to come together on the back of this incredible event."
South African President Thabo Mbeki (Foto: Mbeki, Kofi Annan and Joseph Blatter) was also among the guests of honour at the event, entitled Africa calling!', alongside the Presidents of the German OC, the German Football Federation (DFB) and FIFA Franz Beckenbauer, Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder and Joseph S. Blatter respectively. The FIFA President also received the Federal Cross of Merit from the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel in a late afternoon ceremony.
The guests were treated to a blend of music, dance, song, theatre and of course the official speeches from the guests of honour. The presentation of the Official Emblem, which was hosted by FIFA Communications Director Markus Siegler and Tumi Makgabo, the South African OC spokesperson, was up-beat and lively, and full of pride and dignity. The presentation went for a magical and imaginative approach rather than a sober and factual one, sketching the outlines of how South Africa intends to organise the Twenty-Ten' FIFA World Cup.
In his speech, Joseph Blatter underlined the social aspects and responsibilities of a FIFA World Cup, and spoke of a "day of joy and hope" which had taken place 14 years earlier. On 7 July 1992, South Africa was allowed back into the international footballing community. On 15 May 2004, they were awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "If we use football as a tool, we can help to solve some of Africa's problems," Blatter promised, who has created the Win in Africa with Africa' initiative for this very purpose. The FIFA President also took the opportunity in his speech to answer some of the critics in the media who claim that the preparations are not as far advanced as they should be. "We trust South Africa, and this trust will last," he concluded.
In a moving speech, Thabo Mbeki compared Germany's 1954 FIFA World Cup win with the significance for South Africa of organising the 2010 event. "It was Helmut Rahn who scored the goal to put Germany 3-2 ahead against Hungary and win them the World Cup Trophy. For Germany, the title saw a divided nation brought together behind a common achievement. The entire country felt that 'We're someone again!' and I vow that our World Cup in South Africa will have the same effect."
South Africa's President also made some long-term sporting predictions, concluding with: "President Blatter, the World Cup will be staying in Africa in 2010. Africa is ready. The time has come. Africa is calling!" before switching to perfect German to say "Kommen Sie 2010 nach Südafrika!" ("Come to South Africa in 2010!").
Of course, there is still some very important FIFA World Cup football to come before it is South Africa's turn. On Sunday 9 July, the Final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup will be held in Berlin's Olympiastadion, with a short closing ceremony before kick-off.
Under the direction of Emmy award-winning US choreographer Doug Jack, 400 volunteer performers will appear on stage alongside Colombian megastar Shakira, between 7.357.46pm.
The high-octane show, which will be performed on the Marathon Steps of the Berlin Olympiastadion on a vertical, eight-tonne stage decked out with 350 metre-long white footballs. "It won't be serious and ceremonial, but a liberating performance which will maintain the energy levels that we've experienced the length and breadth of Germany over the past few days," Jack explained.
"The show is designed to show Germany as a friendly and open country which is how it has been throughout the World Cup," added Dieter Brell, whose 3deluxe agency is in charge of the closing ceremony.
The international pop/opera quartet Il Divo and American singer Toni Braxton will open the show with the official FIFA World Cup song Time of our Lives', while Placido Domingo will entertain the crowds during the half-time interval.