In 2010 the Football World Cup will be held in Africa for the first time. The names of five African nations are in the hat to win the honour of inviting the cream of the footballing world's talent to play. JAMES BADCOCK reports on the economics of winning the bid.
For World Cup 2010, guaranteed to Africa, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia are the remaining bidders for the publicity and economic windfall as billions of people around the world tune in to pictures from the host nation during the month-long duration of football fever.
Since the success of Cameroon in reaching the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup, there has been an increasing global awareness of the huge potential of African football, which could one day challenge the supremacy of the South American and European nations. In fact, no African team has, as yet, bettered that performance by Cameroon--led memorably by the veteran Roger Milla, whose goals and dancing celebrations lit up Italia '90--although other national teams like Senegal and Nigeria have beaten top sides in early games of more recent tournaments.
Hosting the event would be a golden opportunity for one African team to shine, playing in front of their own supporters in familiar conditions, besides the luxury of not having to qualify through eliminatory groups and therefore being able to train uninterruptedly for the finals. Despite the pressure of expectation, host nations have traditionally exceeded themselves. France, of course, won their first ever World Cup at home in 1998, while 2002's joint-host, South Korea, reached the semi-finals, having knocked out Italy and Spain on the way!
FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) inspection teams have now visited all five candidate nations and the final decision is due to be taken in May be a voting committee comprising representatives from 24 national football associations. There was controversy over the selection process for the 2006 finals, after the New Zealand delegate defied the wishes of his national association by switching his crucial vote from South Africa to Germany amid rumours of aggressive lobbying by the latter concerning South Africa's crime problems.
This was the background to FIFA's decision to limit bids for 2010 to countries from the continent considered unlucky in losing out in 2006. South Africa may feel the honour is theirs by right, but there is real competition from the North...