Africans are renowned for their penchant for dancing and celebrating and that spirit is set to be on display at the ten FIFA Fan Fest venues across the country as the Rainbow Nation of South Africa prepares for their biggest party ever.
South Africans will join millions across the globe who will witness the first FIFA World Cup on African soil, and nine of South Africa’s host cities will host the 10 FIFA Fan Fests, which promise a prime spectator experience at all the venues. Inside South Africa, FIFA World Cup fever has been gaining momentum and it comes as no surprise that thousands of South Africans, who were not lucky to enough secure a seat at the stadiums, will now flock to the FIFA Fan Fests to savour some historic moments of football.
With thousands of foreign visitors having already booked their tickets to the tip of the continent, football fans are now looking forward to the start of footballing action, with the opening game scheduled for 11 June at the majestic Soccer City Stadium between the hosts and Mexico. And, for those who have not secured a seat at the match venues, the FIFA Fan Fests are another place to experience the collective emotion that comes with the greatest show on earth, the FIFA World Cup.
“South Africa has about 47 million people, and the reality of the FIFA World Cup is that we have only three million tickets. This means that the majority of the population will have to look for an alternative venue to be part of this historic tournament. The Fan Fests are especially tailored for that. The most important thing for us is to make sure that this FIFA World Cup is enjoyed by as many people as possible. And, at the Fan Fests, football enthusiasts can bask at the atmosphere and celebrate together,” FIFA Director of Marketing Thierry Weil said.
All 64 matches will be screened live at the FIFA Fan Fests. This will also include live entertainment and performances. Johannesburg, the country’s economic hub, will host two FIFA Fan Fests. The first one is at the awe-inspiring Innes Free Park in Sandton with the second one to be held at the celebrated Soweto township at the Elkah Stadium and the Soweto Cricket Club. Soweto gained international acclaim during South Africa’s fight against the apartheid system and is the biggest township in the country.
The Grand Parade in Cape Town is one of the venues that is certain to attract maximum exposure. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Draw in Cape Town, a dry-run Fan Fest event was staged that saw more than 50,000 Capetonians joinining in celebrations. The success of that test event convinced organisers that this phenomenon will not only be a success in South Africa, but will set another benchmark from where future events might be judged from. A few hours after his release from prison in February 1990, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech at the Grand Parade in front of thousands of people who had been waiting to catch a first glance of a man who had been incarcerated for almost three decades.
In Durban, New Beach will provide a perfect setting for the FIFA Fan Fest. This FIFA Fan Fest is the only one in South Africa situated on the beach and can take up to 25,000 people. One of the biggest advantages of this location is that it’s located literally few minutes from the majestic Durban Stadium meaning fans can walk to the FIFA Fan Fest after the game to join the festivities. “The Fifa Fan Fest will provide an opportunity for millions of our people to watch the matches in a festival environment for free, and will also provide an opportunity for small businesses and our musical talents to benefit from this event," 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising CEO, Danny Jordaan said.
The Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth FIFA Fan Fest will be at the St Georges Park Cricket Stadium - the second oldest cricket ground in South Africa. The stadium is located in the heart of the city, and will provide fans the opportunity to experience all the fun and excitement of the FIFA Fan Fest in the electric atmosphere of a stadium environment. In Nelspruit, Bergvlam High School will be the venue. In Tshwane/ Pretoria, the FIFA Fan Fest will be held at the Centurion Cricket Ground. The Polokwane Cricket Club will host the event in Polokwane while the Field’s College will be the venue for Rustenburg. Mangaung/Bloemfotein, will bring the township touch to it’s event with the Mangaung Outdoor Sports Centre in Rocklands as it’s chosen venue.