South Africa boasts 10 venues for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, from northern Polokwane to southern Cape Town, several of which have been built or redeveloped especially for the tournament. We take a look at the ten selected venues…
Soccer City – Johannesburg
Considered one of the most innovative, breathtaking football venues in Africa, the newly-reconstructed Soccer City Stadium is situated in the south west of Johannesburg, near the township of Soweto, home to some 40% of the residents of the city.
Its immediacy to this football mad area will ensure the 95,000 capacity stadium sees plenty of action during the finals. Built in 1987, it was the first international football stadium in the country and has hosted many important matches. Perhaps the most memorable of these was the 1996 African Cup of Nations final, which saw the South African national side defeat Tunisia 2-0. It will host the opening match of the 2010 World Cup, scheduled for June 11th and the final, scheduled for July 11th, along with last 16 and quarter-final fixtures, making 8 in total.
Ellis Park Stadium – Johannesburg
The Ellis Park Stadium is located in the centre of Johannesburg.
Originally built in 1928, it was demolished and rebuilt in 1982. It has hosted numerous, memorable sporting contests, including South Africa’s shock win over the All-Blacks to lift the 1995 Rugby World Cup shortly after being welcomed back into the sport.
The stadium underwent extensive refurbishment prior to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, with a new tier on the north stand which increased the seating capacity to 62,000 for the Brazil v USA final. The Ellis Park Stadium has been allocated 7 fixtures for the 2010 World Cup Finals, including last 16 and quarter-final matches.
Green Point Stadium – Cape Town
The newly-built Green Point Stadium, with a capacity of 70,000, is situated in one of the much sought-after areas in the city of Cape Town.
It has replaced the previous, far smaller stadium which was demolished in 2007. The new ground, built on a former golf course, is ideally situated just a short walk from public transport links.
The Green Point Stadium has an allocation of 8 fixtures for the 2010 finals, including a first-day group match, last 16 / quarter-final matches and one of the semi-finals.
Moses Mabhida Stadium – Durban
The 70,000 capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium was built especially for the 2010 World Cup, on the site of the old Kings Park soccer ground, near the Indian Ocean.
Its design is inspired by the national flag. The two legs of the arch on the south side form a single footing on the northern side, symbolising the unity of the once-divided country. It has been specifically designed as a world-class, multifunctional venue, complete with a cable car which ascends to a viewing platform at the top of the 350m arch, an incredible 106m above pitch level. From this vantage point, visitors can experience magnificent, panoramic views of the nearby shoreline and city.
The Moses Mabhida Stadium will host seven fixtures, including last 16 games and one of the semi-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Nelson Mandela Stadium – Port Elizabeth
A new construction for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the state-of-the-art Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was completed in time for the 2009 Lions’ rugby union tour.
Located on the shore of North End Lake, the 48,000 capacity arena is the first football-dedicated stadium in the area. The stadium has an attention-grabbing, unique roof-structure, offering impressive views. Its first major “test” event was the Soweto “derby” between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, a fixture that inevitably attracts a capacity crowd.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will host the third place playoff and a quarter-final amongst a total of 8 matches during the 2010 World Cup.
Mbombela Stadium – Nelspruit
The Mbombela Stadium, another venue purpose-built for the 2010 World Cup, is located near the renowned Kruger National Park.
In the siSwati language, Mbombela literally translates as “many people together in a small space.”, certainly an appropriate translation for the coming of the World’s biggest football tournament!
The 46,000 capacity stadium is 7km from the centre of the city of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga Province and has been allocated 4 first-round fixtures for the 2010 World Cup.
Loftus Versfeld Stadium – Tshwane/Pretoria
The Loftus Versfeld Stadium, located in Tshwane / Pretoria, is one of the oldest stadiums in South Africa, dating back to 1903.
Construction of the original concrete structure, with room for a mere 2,000 fans, commenced in 1923. Since the late 1940s, the Loftus Versfeld Stadium has undergone continual upgrades and will have a capacity of 50,000 for the World Cup Finals. It has been used for many significant rugby and football matches and is the home ground of top rugby teams, Super 14 champions, the Blue Bulls. The stadium was used as a venue for both the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1996 African Cup of Nations. However, it is probably most memorable for the South African national football team’s inaugural victory over a European team, when defeating Sweden 1-0 in 1999.
Its allocation for the 2010 World Cup is 6 matches; 5 first-round ties and a last 16 contest scheduled for June 29th.
Free State Stadium – Mangaung / Bloemfontein
Opposite Bloemfontein’s cricket ground and home to fanatical supporters of Bloemfontein Celtic, the 48,000 capacity Free State Stadium seems likely to prove a lively venue for the 2010 World Cup Finals.
Refurbishments prior to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup saw its capacity increase from 38,000. The stadium has hosted numerous major football and rugby union matches, including the memorable Spain v USA semi-final of the aforementioned event, when the United States pulled off a shock defeat of the European Champions.
The Free State Stadium has an allocation of 6 World Cup 2010 fixtures; 5 first-round matches and a last 16 tie on June 27th.
Royal Bafokeng Stadium – Rustenburg
Originally built as a venue for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace is about 12km from the centre of Rustenburg and a half hour drive from Sun City.
It is named after the Bafokeng people native to the region. With a capacity of 42,000, it has played host to many Premier Soccer League matches, despite Rustenburg lacking its own team. The South African national team played a World Cup qualifier at Rustenburg in their successful qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup Finals, defeating Burkina Faso 2-1. South Africa could be deemed unlucky at the finals, when having drawn with Paraguay and defeated Slovenia they were eliminated at the first group phase.
The Royal Bafokeng Stadium’s 2010 World Cup allocation is 6 matches; 5 first-round ties and a last 16 match, scheduled for June 26th.
Peter Mokaba Stadium – Polokwane
The newly-built, 45,000 capacity Peter Mokaba stadium is situated approximately 5km from the city centre of Polokwane in Limpopo Province.
The stadium holds much historical significance, being named after one of the local, renowned sons of the struggle to free South Africa from apartheid, celebrated for his fighting spirit and stirring leadership. A predominantly concrete structure, its design was inspired by the locally iconic Baobab tree. Former African player of the Year, Didier Drogba made his international debut for Côte d’Ivoire in a memorable, decisive African Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa at the previous, nearby Peter Mokaba Stadium, with the home side prevailing 2-1.
The Peter Mokaba Stadium has been allocated 4 first-round matches for the 2010 World Cup finals.