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On air: How successful was the 2010 World Cup?

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Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 07:01 UK time, Saturday, 10 July 2010

When something goes smoothly, effectively and without a hitch, it is a boring story.

So it is to the immense credit of those in charge of the 2010 World Cup that we have heard almost nothing about the organisation.


Had things gone as wrong in South Africa as was predicted before the tournament - with stabbings and muggings interspersing matches in unfinished stadiums being played by teams unable to train - the chaos would have been in the headlines day after day after day. The football would have been reduced to a sideshow.

Effectively, the pre-tournament speculation was whether South Africa would let down the World Cup.

Now it's more a case of the World Cup letting down South Africa.

The epitaph of the 2010 tournament might well be "great tournament - shame about the football."

Fans have not, after all, needed the stab vests being flogged to them. A constant stream of dangerous substances has not flooded in through the country's airports.

Instead, the criticism of the tournament has been directed chiefly at the quality of the football, lack of dazzle from the big names, and absence of drama, and South Africa can hardly take responsibility for that.

When I spoke to South Africa's Matthew Booth before the tournament, he was critical of the way that his country had been presented in the foreign media, and I got the feeling he was not alone.

Huge credit must go to the South African authorities, police and the World Cup organisers, led by Danny Jordaan.

Jordaan now says the tournament has "rebranded" South Africa. He adds:

This World Cup has helped with an image makeover and a rebranding of the country and the capacity of the country. For every South African there is an immense sense of pride in the tournament. Their intense and emotional and passionate support for all teams has been an amazing feature

The vuvuzelas - love or hate them (and oh, so many people hate them), certainly made for a unique atmosphere. In years to come, adults who are children now will hear a blast of that famous drone and be instantly transported back to the summer of 2010.

There have been problems, of course, with traffic and theft, but it is not as if either of those are unknown outside of major tournaments.

The poor ticket sales, resulting in half-empty stadiums at some games, have been an issue, and something Fifa needs to address for Brazil 2014. Insisting that tickets could only be bought using the "official Fifa partner" is the sort of alienating corporate nonsense that infuriates fans who feel the soul of the game is being sold.

But overall, South Africa can be proud of what it has done. If only the football could have matched it.

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