Verdict is in on 2010 World Cup
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
JOHANNESBURG -- Less than a day after the World Cup ended, the verdict is in.
Spain deserved to beat the Netherlands for its first title and South Africa has done well financially and from a public relations standpoint.
Spain's 1-0 win over the Netherlands was almost universally panned for the poor quality of football. Fans and commentators were critical of the ugly nature of the Netherlands style of play that led to 14 yellow cards and a red card in the game. Players were fortunate that only one was sent off considering the nature of some of the tackles.
Holland ended the tournament with 22 yellow cards, 10 more than the team with the second-most yellows.
There was also great disappointment at the diving, simulation and rolling around on the pitch whenever contact was made. When that's combined with the constant complaining and whining to the referee, the game proved a turn off not only to the casual fan but also to those who were desperate to see a good final.
The most exciting part of the game happened seconds before the match when fan "Jimmy Jump" ran towards the World Cup looking to place a Catalan "Barrentina" hat on it.
He managed to reach the cup before being drilled by a punch from a security guard, thrown to the ground and carried out of the stadium.
"After a World Cup final of so toxic a nature the stadium is in need of decontamination more than the regular clean-up," wrote one newspaper.
The Dutch media were quick to blame English referee Howard Webb while playing down the inadequacies of their own team, while the Spanish media were quick to blame the ref for not taking a harsher approach to the Dutch.
The post-game press conference was a condemnation of Bert van Marwijk's team. He was vilified by the Spanish press.
That is the nature of what happens in the World Cup where media members are not embarrassed to wrap themselves in their country's flag and impartiality be damned.
The Dutch will now have to live with the title of not-so-lovable losers. It was their third World Cup final and they remain winless.
Spain solidified its hold as the best team in the world. The game also showcased Spain's coming of age. The Spanish won the type of nasty, ugly game they never would have won two or three years ago.
This is not only a highly skilled team but a much tougher team mentally.
With the action on the football pitch completed, attention turned to what the tournament meant for a nation that wasn't supposed to be able to stage this event.
The World Cup was a public relations gold mine for South Africa. The beauty, people, food and wine of the country captivated visitors. There were minor incidents of crime. In fact, the situation was so much improved that residents of South Africa are now demanded the standard be continued after the tourists have gone home.
Estimates are that 250,000 fans came to South Africa.
The major credit card sponsor for the World Cup said in the first 20 days of June credit card users spent 101 million euros, an increase of 54% on the same period last year. There was plenty of spending through the rest of the month.
With an estimated 750 million viewers watching the World Cup, tourism officials believe many of them will decide to put South Africa on their travel agenda.
Complete financial details won't be known for months but South Africa spent about $6 billion preparing for the World Cup, with estimated revenues at $5 billion. However, officials believe when everything is counted the country will break even.
Some of the money went to building and renovating stadiums, but there were numerous infrastructure improvements including an international airport in Durban, upgrading a 50-km highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg to 10 lanes, setting up a new bus system with dedicated lanes and building a rapid train service from Johannesburg's airport to Sandton, where the stock exchange is based.
It will take several years before the true benefits of the World Cup become known. Will all the money spent actually benefit South Africa? Will the country continue to move forward?
Now that South Africa defied the odds and the critics by pulling off a good World Cup, the chances of South Africa continuing to grow when the eyes of the world are no longer on it becomes a believable reality.