South Africa Feature

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World Cup 411

Held since 1958, the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup is truly a worldwide event; more than 40 billion fans in 200 countries tuned in for the monthlong 2006 World Cup, in Germany. The 2010 World Cup (June 11-July 11), anticipates an even larger audience, and South Africa, the host nation, has been hard at work preparing for its moment to shine. Airports have received makeovers, neighborhoods have been revamped, and cities are putting the finishing touches on the 10 venues that will host the 64 matches. Some stadiums were built from scratch, while others were modernized and expanded.

More than a year before the event some venues and matches were already sellouts. Large public viewing areas called fan parks outside many of the stadiums are planned for those without tickets.

The Mascot and Logo

The official logo, called a "symbol of hope" by some officials, was inspired by Khoi-San rock paintings and pictures a soccer player over the shape of Africa in the colors of the South African flag.

The name of the mascot, Zakumi, a playful, green-haired leopard with a soccer ball, is an amalgamation of ZA, the abbreviation for South Africa, and kumi, which means "ten" in several African languages.

Who's Playing?

Thirty-two teams compete in the World Cup, with allocations made geographically. Europe will enter 13 teams; the Americas, 8; Africa, 6, including the one automatically allotted to the host nation. Asia will have 4 teams, and a fifth slot will go to the winner of a playoff with the Oceania region. Qualifying matches started in 2007.

Where Are The Games?

Matches will be spread across the country, in 10 stadiums in nine cities.

Soccer City

Near Soweto, where nearly 40% of Johannesburg's residents live, Soccer City is the tournament's main venue. The old stadium on this site hosted several historic events, including Nelson Mandela's first mass rally after his release. The overhauled stadium, a new landmark for Johannesburg, was designed to resemble an African bowl, or calabash (gourd), in daytime and a traditional African cooking pot when lit at night.

Hosting : Opening and closing matches; first- and second-round and quarterfinal play

Location : Johannesburg

Capacity : 94,000

Ellis Park

A 15-minute walk to the Johannesburg city center, Ellis Park was originally constructed as a rugby venue and was the site of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final when South Africa bested New Zealand. The arena has been refitted with new upper tiers at either goal post.

Hosting : First- and second-round and quarterfinal play.

Location : Johannesburg

Capacity : 61,000

Cape Town Stadium

Planted between Cape Town's V&A Waterfront and Signal Hill in Green Point, the country's costliest new stadium has a retractable dome, just in case the "Cape doctor" comes to call (that's the nickname for the unpredictable Cape weather, which can be chilly and wet in June and July).

Hosting : Semifinal play

Location : Cape Town

Capacity : 70,000

Moses Mabhida Stadium

Upgrades to this stadium near Durban's Golden Mile include new roofed upper tiers, which make it a three-tier stadium. Dramatic arches cross the stadium's rooftop and a slatted facade protect against the elements but still allow views to the outside. The stadium is part of the Kings Park Sporting Precinct, developed to aid in Durban's 2020 Olympics bid.

Hosting : First- and second-round and semifinal play

Location : Durban

Capacity : 70,000

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Soccer teams will trade kicks and passes in this modern stadium, built specifically for the games.

Hosting : First- and second-round and semifinal play

Location : Port Elizabeth

Capacity : 50,000

Loftus Versfeld Stadium

In the vicinity of Embassy Row in South Africa's executive capital, this stadium is home to Sundowns, a South African soccer club.

Hosting : First- and second-round play

Location : Tshwane (Pretoria)

Capacity : 50,000

Royal Bafokeng Stadium

Only minor renovations will bring the relatively new stadium—named for the local Bafokeng people—up to FIFA standards. The stadium's location, just 90 minutes outside Johannesburg, means that you can gamble in Sun City between matches.

Hosting : First- and second-round play

Location : Rustenburg, North West Province

Capacity : 42,000

Peter Mokaba Stadium

In the capital of Limpopo Province (previously Pietersburg), the stadium is named after controversial anti-apartheid activist Peter Mokaba, a native of the area. The arena was built fresh alongside the previously existing field.

Hosting : First-round play

Location : Polokwane, Limpopo Province

Capacity : 46,000

Mbombela Stadium

This brand-new, aptly named stadium—Mbombela means many people together in a small place—was purposely built close to the city center, local airport, and game parks.

Hosting : First-round play

Location : Nelspruit, Mpumalanga Province

Capacity : 46,000

Free State Stadium

The arena is getting some new additions including a second tier on the main grandstand, a new electronic scoreboard, and a new sound system—perfect for hearing the announcer over the din of the crowd.

Hosting : First- and second-round play

Location : Bloemfontein, Free State Province

Capacity : 48,000

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