Africa’s first World Cup is coming to a glorious climax. We have seen so much to wonder at, we have seen so many problems surmounted, so many great goals, so much scintillating football, so many poor refereeing decisions, so many dreams shattered.
The World Cup that was supposed to collapse in chaos has risen above the carping doomsayers. As I have said from the start, it could turn out to be the best yet. Every night for a month, the eyes of the world have been upon the Rainbow Nation. And I have yet to meet an unhappy traveling fan—Algerian, American, English, Italian, Slovenian, Brazilian. Believe me, I have spoken to footballing pilgrims from around the world.
Okay, the pitch at Port Elizabeth wasn’t perfect. Some of the park-and-ride facilities have required a stiff hike after the whistle. Polokwane and Nelspruit, just two of the wonderful new stadiums on offer, may never see the like again.
And Sepp Blatter is still a dictator with one eye firmly on the profit margins.
But now I think we must address the truly miraculous elements of South Africa 2010. The unexpected realities must be examined before 22 gladiators meet for their life-or-death struggle at Soccer City on Sunday. As the Romans might have said: Incredibili (that’s unbelievable in Latin).