More than three million fans across the globe have already watched the 2010 FIFA World Cup games at the 16 FIFA-accredited Fan Fest venues over the first first weeks of the tournament, according to FIFA's recent official figures. Durban has proven to be the most popular site in South Africa and Berlin in Germany is the most popular international venue so far.
Cape Town also saw a mass invasion of fans during the Argentine-Germany game on Saturday, 3 July 2010, with a record 300 000 people walking through the inner city and nearly 45 000 finding their way into the Grand Parade Fan Fest. This fan fest, which cost R22 million to build, can accommodate up to 25 000 people.
Some believe that since the venue is highly accessible to public transport (next to Cape Town Station), and directly linked to the network of buses, minibus taxis and pedestrian routes, this makes it a location of choice for soccer fans who do not have tickets.
Furthermore, more than 1.5 million fans flocked to 10 FIFA venues across SA over the first two weeks or so, with Durban topping the list with 375 571 fans, followed by Cape Town (304 581), Port Elizabeth (146 974) and Johannesburg/Sandton with 133 326.
So far, stats for the first few weeks indicate that the highest day attendance at a single site was Durban (16 June: 65 714), the top match and total attendance across all sites was SA vs Mexico (11 June: 303 671), and the highest total attendance (non-Bafana Bafana) was Brazil vs Portugal (129 183).
Some analysts attribute Durban's popularity not only to its warm weather, but also to an aggressive campaign marketing the city undertook before the beginning of the tournament.
More than 1.5 million fans in Rome, Paris, Berlin, Sydney, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro also followed the matches on the giant screens at the official FIFA Fan Fests, FIFA's recent statistics show.
Top cities include Berlin (385 255), Rio de Janeiro (262 747) and Paris (258 500).
But while SA fans - mostly in cold parts of the country - stay indoors to shield themselves against winter hazards, many foreign tourists brave the cold to enjoy the fun, freedom and independence provided by the outdoors.
According to reports from the Western Cape, close to 1000 De Oranjecamping soccer fans from Holland, clad in orange, have settled in the banks of the Berg River in the town of Paarl - the same place their forefathers settled some 300 years ago - to watch soccer in a 'special way'.
Biggest soccer fan camp
De Orangecamping is believed to be the world's biggest soccer fan camp, with at least 175 vehicles travelling across Africa. The Western Cape department of finance, economic development and tourism reports that the Dutch campers have injected R6 million into local economy.
Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs said on Sunday 4 July that 1 020 321 foreigners have visited SA during the period of the world cup (1 June-1 July), an increase of 25% compared to the same period last year (819 495), with SADC countries topping the list, closely followed by UK, US, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Mexico.
Issa Sikiti da Silva is a winner of the 2010 SADC Media Awards (print category). He freelances for various media outlets, local and foreign, and has travelled extensively across Africa. His work has been published both in French and English. He used to contribute to Bizcommunity.com as a senior news writer.
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