World Cup heritage

World Cup fans. Image courtesy of Octagon (Own work) CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Set in the gladiatorial arena we know as Soccer City, it was a moment that lifted the Rainbow Nation and catapulted African soccer into the international spotlight. Siphiwe Tshabalala smashed the ball past the Mexican goalkeeper 55 minutes into the game, scoring the first World Cup goal on African soil and igniting the 2010 Fifa World Cup™.

The tournament gave the nation an opportunity to shine, and Gauteng the chance to show the world its capabilities. Soccer City hosted the opening game and the final, in addition to lavish and spectacular ceremonies. Many group games were spread among Gauteng’s three World Cup stadia. There were also Loftus Versveld in Pretoria and Coca-Cola Park (Ellis Park Stadium) in Johannesburg.

The other stadia used outside Gauteng were:
Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Durban Stadium
Green Point Stadium
Peter Mokaba Stadium
Free State Stadium
Mbombela Stadium
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

But the party was not contained within the sporting venues, as Gauteng also played host to the some of the wildest four weeks in its history. Many memories were formed by those attending the soccer spectacular, but the World Cup was not just a competition; it laid a firm foundation for tourism and industry in Gauteng that is hoped to last well into the future. It was always intended that Gauteng build on the success of the World Cup.

Much infrastructure was put in place, not to mention upgrades and renovations to hotels and OR Tambo International Airport. The main idea? To ride the wave of the World Cup and cement Gauteng as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

Outside Soccer City before the Bafana Bafana against Mexico game. image courtesy of Marcello Casal Jr//ABr [CC-BY-3.0-br], via Wikimedia Commons
The World Cup gave Gauteng a reason to celebrate its unique position as Africa’s most exciting tourist destination, and brought the world’s eyes to its exciting and diverse offerings.

A great emphasis now is on business in the province, where there are now a great variety of services, and more opportunities for doing business in Gauteng.

This is not to mention the blossoming cultural scene, from multi-cultural arts to world-class cuisine, from markets and malls to a variety of entertainment.

And what remains of the World Cup stadia? For one, you can tour Soccer City, which has since been used for a variety of concerts such as U2’s 360° tour. The guided tour affords visitors the opportunity to ask questions, take photographs and experience the stadium first-hand. See where your favourite teams prepared for games by taking a stroll through the change rooms; experience the excitement of walking through the same tunnel as did John Smit, Christiano Ronaldo, Siphiwe Tshabalala and many other sporting legends.

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