This years World Cup is set to begin on June 11th and end four weeks later on July 11th. It will be the first time in history that the World Cup will be hosted by an African country. Most of the high profile matches including the championship will be played in the newly renovated Soccer City Stadium located in Johannesburg with a capacity of 94,700. South Africa has been eagerly anticipating this event for years now and has spent close to 4 billion U.S. dollars in preparations. They have upgraded some of the major airports, built brand new stadiums, and have hired an extra 41,000 police. Security has long been one of the main questions concerning the World Cup being played in South Africa. They have one of the highest crime rates in the world (50 deaths per day) and just recently racial tensions have once again flared up after a very prominent white supremacist was murdered at his farm. South African officials have reassured the world that security will be at it’s best and all threats will be investigated thoroughly.
As far as the actual soccer goes, Italy will be defending their World Cup title in 2006 and still has a very strong team. Some of the other favorites to win it all are Spain, Brazil, Germany, and Argentina. All of which are currently ranked in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings. Many believe the best chance Africa has at winning will be Ivory Coast which is currently ranked 25th in the world. The country of South Africa did qualify for the tournament but many believe they could be embarrassed. In total there are 32 teams who play in the World Cup, 6 of which are represented by the host nation of Africa. The continent with the most qualifiers is Europe with 13. This will certainly be a historic World Cup for Africa as the anticipation grows by the day.