Only one year to go
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is going to be the biggest global show ever
Like the Olympics, it requires top notch infrastructure, accommodation, and a stable political situation. (We're a long way from all three here in Nepal, so it is clear we wont be hosting the World Cup any time soon!) Sports events like these put a country on the map which can be a good thing or a bad thing. It may help tourism, but it will also, put the country under massive scrutiny for its shortcomings.
When the 2008 Summer Olympics were held in China, it put the country's human rights record under the spotlight. Media attention during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Korea helped usher democracy. So it's safe to say that such massive events aren't all just a game.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is sure to be a monumental event as the tournament will be held in Africa for the first time in history. In 2000, South Africa made a bid to host the 2006 World Cup, but ultimately lost out to Germany.
South Africa began preparing its host cities by enhancing infrastructure, cleaning up pollution, and let's hope, cleaning up its policies. South Africa is a great vacation spot with beautiful beaches, amazing mountains and a great nightlife. It's also a country still bearing the wounds of Apartheid. Although great strides have been made to end the segregation between blacks and whites, the separation, discrimination and oppression still exists.
The country also has one of the highest percentages of HIV/AIDS in the world and one of the highest unemployment rates. The tournament will create more than 400,000 jobs ranging from hospitality to the construction of any of the five stadiums still in the process of being built.
In order to participate in the World Cup, teams first compete in their regional confederations to ensure only the best of the best appear. From the Asian Football Confederation, Japan, Australia and South Korea have already snatched up three out of four of the spots in the tournament. Australia's shift to the AFC has enabled New Zealand to dominate the Oceania Football Confederation.
UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) will send 13 countries to the tournament, but as to date only the Netherlands is confirmed. The other teams have yet to be determined with the main concerns being whether or not Portugal and France, two teams with strong performances in the past, will qualify or not.
No surprise, Brazil is dominating the South American Football Confederation, but the underdog gaining attention is Chile, as the team has won four out of five of its last matches. In the final round, anything can happen in the Confederation of African Football.
The final draw before the event will occur in Cape Town, South Africa on 4 December before the tournament kicks off in July 2010. Here in Nepal we will probably be losing a lot of sleep next summer since many of the games are going to be late at night our time.