FIFA World Cup in South Africa

Unlike Jackie Lotzoff, Jim Akiatan, Dr. Stanley Villacin, Rachel Genco, Ariel Uy, and Chad Songalia, I’m no huge football devotee. My adulation for soccer heightens only once every 48 months. Well, guess what? That event which I never miss is coming soon… as in four months soon. It’s the World Cup! Is there anything bigger, more celebrated and glorified?

Having just watched an overdose of football the past weekend during the 7th Thirsty Cup, I’d like to pursue getting this kick out of soccer. Thanks to the internet, I researched simple FAQs for the ordinary football pupil…

The FIFA World Cup will be held for the first time in South Africa. It commences on June 11 (that’s 121 days from today) and ends on July 11th. A total of 32 national teams are playing. The most successful countries since the WC began in 1930? Brazil has won five, Italy four, Germany three, Argentina and Uruguay two apiece, and France and England once each. Interestingly, while there have been 19 World Cups in the past (and a total of 204 who attempted to qualify this year), only these seven nations managed a WC victory.

In South Africa (the first African nation to host the WC), nine cities will host the games. The game schedules this June? There are three main time slots. And since South Africa is six hours delayed from RP time, the TV schedules will be as follows (RP time): 7:30 p.m. (perfect!), 10:00 p.m. (excellent!) and 2:30 a.m. (too late!). The July 11 final, to be held in the 94,900-seater stadium named “Soccer City” in Johannesburg, will be at 2:30 a.m.–which many diehard Cebuanos will, for sure, watch. (With these favorable time schedules for us, I’m sure plenty of enterprising restaurant and bar owners will feature the games.)

Ticket prices? The average price is $139 (around P6,500). But, for South African residents, they have a special rate of tickets at only $20. How many tickets are available? Around three million tickets for the WC’s 64 matches. One-third (a million) will go to South African fans, another million to international visitors, and the third million to sponsors, teams and “the FIFA family.”

How many tickets have been sold so far? Over 2,000,000 tickets have been gobbled up in three of the five ticket selling phases. The fourth phase, coincidentally, starts today (Feb. 9), with over 400,000 available on a first-come, first-served basis (www.fifa.com/2010). This is one of the last opportunities for fans to secure tickets.

How popular is the WC? According to Wikipedia, “The World Cup was first televised in 1954 and is now the most widely-viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of all matches of the 2006 World Cup is estimated to be 26.29 billion. (A total of) 715.1 million individuals watched the final match of this tournament (a ninth of the entire population of the planet). The 2006 World Cup draw, which decided the distribution of teams into groups, was watched by 300 million viewers.”

Prize money? It’s huge. A total of $420 million. The semifinalists get $20 million, the runners-up, $24 million, and the champions… a mighty $30 million!

3D? Sure. Using Sony technology, FIFA have revealed that up to 25 games at World Cup 2010 will be filmed in 3D.

Funny question: In the website Southafrica.info, this query was posed: “Are there lions in the streets?” Ha-ha. The reply: “Er, no. But if you want to see wild animals, you won’t have to go far to do so. An hour’s drive from such urban jungles as Pretoria and Johannesburg, you can see lions, elephants, buffalo and hundreds more species in their natural environments.”

Finally… Nelson Mandela, speaking during World Cup draw last December, said: “The people of Africa learnt the lesson of patience and endurance in their long struggle for freedom. May the reward brought by the World Cup prove that the long wait for its arrival on African soil has been worth it… KE NAKO! It’s time.”

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