Fight to host Nations Cup
Nine countries ‘ including four Southern African nations ‘ will present their bids to host the showcase whose profile has been boosted by the fact that it will be held in the same year when the World Cup finals will come to this continent for the first time. South Africa will host Africa’s first World Cup finals in 2010 and Fifa have already announced the host cities for the showcase. Four new stadiums will be built in Cape Town (Greenpoint Stadium), Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium), Durban (King’s Park Stadium) and Nelspruit (Mbombela Stadium). Six other stadiums will be upgraded ‘ Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenberg, the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Loftus in Pretoria, the Peter Mobaka Stadium im Polokwane and Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg. But while the issue about the hosting of the 2010 World Cup finals has already been sorted out to such an extent that even the host cities are now known, the host of the Nations Cup finals in the same year is not yet known. And on Sunday the battle will effectively start when the bidding nations present their documents in Cairo hoping that they will be able to convince decision markers that they offer the best prospects for the tournament. The Southern African nations bidding for the 2010 Nations Cup finals are Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and an Angolan nation that is still in high spirits following its qualification for the World Cup finals in Germany next month. The Angolans believe winning the right to host the 2010 Nations Cup finals will help them further heal the scars of decades of a bloody civil war that wrecked havoc in the country. “This would be a wonderful thing for our country, especially since the 2010 World Cup will be in South Africa,” read an Angolan football website this week. “It would create jobs and help Angola’s economy, while helping us to improve our stadiums and football infrastructure. I think our bid is a bit of a long shot, but my fingers are crossed that we get it.” The Angolans are in a very good position given that none of the Portuguese-speaking nations in Africa have ever hosted the Nations Cup finals. This could certainly be their chance. But Mozambique appears to have the better odds of winning the right to host the 2010 Nations Cup finals than Angola. The Mozambicans have done all the early running and captured the imagination of the continent with a brilliant presentation of their bid in Cairo in January. They were the only nation who took advantage of the Nations Cup finals in Egypt to present their bid to a bigger section of the Caf family with an impressive presentation that won them a lot of credit. The Mozambicans, just like the Angolans, also suffered from the brutality of civil war but have emerged very strong in recent years with an economy that is ticking. Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, who have launched a joint bid, are the other nations vying to host the 2010 Nations Cup finals. The Caf leadership, which will decide in September which country to host the 2010 Nations Cup finals, will consider a lot of factors before coming up with the winner. And this includes regions where previous finals have been held, language, footballing aspects, government guarantees and organisational ability. Once the marking has been completed by the technical committee, the Caf executive committee will reduce bidding nations to three or a maximum of four. The next Nations Cup finals will be held in Ghana in 2008 and this could eliminate all the West African nations, bidding to host the event in 2010, from the equation. Although both Egypt and Tunisia ‘ who are in the same region ‘ hosted the tournament in successive years, it is very likely that the Caf leadership will not do it again in West Africa in the next two years. That should eliminate Nigeria and Senegal while the joint bid by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea appears a very long shot. Libya, Nigeria and Senegal have staged the tournament before while Zimbabwe lost the right to host the 2000 Nations Cup finals amid concerns by the Caf leadership that the preparations were way behind schedule. But what are the benefits of hosting such a tournament and why is the world already buzzing by the fact that South Africa will host the 2010 World Cup finals? And why is all this buzz surrounding the hosting of the 2010 Nations Cup finals? Ask the Mozambique Football Federation, who are leading the race, and they will tell you that there is more to hosting the Nations Cup finals than just football. Manuel Monteiro, the MFM secretary-general, told journalists that the Nations Cup tournament was a festival that would mean more to his country than just the pride of playing good hosts. “What we intend is more than the African Cup of Nations we want to try to create centres for our football as well as social and development centres for our communities,” said Monteiro. “Aside from the sporting facilities we will be building other social infrastructures such as hospitals, schools and other entertainment facilities. “In Maputo, we intend to build 4,000 housing units, some of which will be sold at a later date, and others will become part of the federation’s real estate possessions. “The last stadium built in Mozambique was more than 40 years ago, which is the Mashaba Stadium, and is used as the national stadium but it belongs to the national railways company. “So we plan to build a 40,000 seater stadium in Maputo as well as new ones in the northern city of Nampula and in the central city of Manica, each with a capacity of between 20,000 and 21,000. “According to our preliminary study the whole project will cost about US$50,000,000. “The money for the sports facilities will come from the government, but we have had to prove that we have ways of maintaining and paying back the investment. “The other infrastructure such as the commercial centre we hope to rent out or sell to private businesses, while the schools will be maintained along with the ministry of education or private entrepreneurs.” That is precisely why there is all this buzz, even for South Africa 2010. Veteran journalist Brad Morgan probably puts it all into perspective. “It has been 10 years since the huge step was taken to allow all people of South Africa a meaningful say in the manner in which the country is governed,” he wrote. “In those 10 years tremendous progress has been made, but more time is needed to balance the opportunities on offer for all; one decade is not enough time to overcome the inequalities of South Africa’s past. “Now, though, the financial impact and possibilities the 2010 World Cup offers creates an opportunity to speed up the process that will truly allow all South Africans an equal opportunity to excel with hard work. “Tourism is the one sector that is set to benefit above all others. “Looked at from a different angle, the World Cup is expected to create 159 000 new jobs. This is a tremendous boost to the country, as unemployment remains one of its biggest problems. “Ensuring that South Africa is ready for the biggest show on earth means its infrastructure needs to be improved. That will be of lasting benefit to all South Africans. “Not only will that work remain in place after the World Cup, but it also means a windfall for local construction companies, who will build what is necessary for a successful tournament. “As many as three-million tourists are expected during the World Cup. That’s 40 percent more than the average annual number of tourists. “The potential bonus from the huge exposure this will provide for the country is massive.” Whichever way, the year 2010 will be a landmark year for this part of the world.