Just back from South Africa, I’m fired-up about travel opportunities there, most notably, the imminent World Cup. The Big News: it’s not too late to go, tickets and hotels are still available!
The world is stricken every four years by an all-consuming fever that is so catchy, so virulent, that literally billions of people succumb. But don’t be alarmed, nothing to be scared about, unless you can’t stand soccer (aka football to everyone outside the US). It’s the World Cup, truly the sporting world’s─ if not Planet Earth’s─most global event, where nations from every continent compete for bragging rights to call themselves World Champions, add a little more swagger to their collective step and bring home the famous silhouette of the solid gold trophy.
How big is The Cup? Estimates vary, but most agree on figures like over 700 million viewers for the 2006 final game and a collective audience of over a billion during the month-long tourney, which this year runs from June 11-July 11 in 9 host cities around South Africa.
I’ve been in Brazil during the Cup. Streets were deserted during games, with just the sound of thousands of televisions playing in unison, cheers or groans emanating from houses in a unified chorus. During the 2006 Cup, I was in Monaco. At a seaside bar, patrons from Italy and France screamed, shouted and taunted one another as the final game between their two countries played on the TV. (I laid low in the corner, watching both the spectacle on the screen and in the bar). Now just back from South Africa, I can tell you the country has its gameface on and is ready to host, support the teams (especially their own of course) and throw one helluva party. And the good news for all you procrastinators: there are still tickets and hotel rooms to be had in most of the host cities. Terry von Guilleaume of US-based tour operator Destination Southern Africa explained his agency not only has tickets for all Team USA games (as do other sanctioned operators), but also has TST (Team Specific Tickets) for Round of 16 games and the Quarterfinals, paired with hard-to-find city-specific packages that include accommodations.
“If you don’t book for this World Cup, you’re the loser. This will be a completely unique event─a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Africa will not get another Cup for years, and there has never been a better time to visit South Africa,” says von Guilleaume. Sounds convincing.
Following is a collection of links to get you there and give you all you need to know about host cities, the teams and how to enjoy the World Cup like a winner.
World Cup Links
FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, has a comprehensive site with enough stats, updates and insider info to satisfy even the most hardcore fan.
The official South Africa Tourism site is a great resource for travel ideas while you are in this vast and varied country.
Sanctioned Agencies for tickets and packages:
Extra Credit: You know that dancing guy on Youtube? Yup, he’s been to South Africa too…