World Cup gives South Africa a new image overseas

Updated: 2010-07-12 14:10
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The World Cup unveiled a new South Africa to the rest of the planet, upending stereotypes and nightmare scenarios about a country that proudly showed off its modern accomplishments.

Images of the world's best footballers, ecstatic fans and top stadiums ruled headlines usually clouded by South Africa's painful apartheid divisions and staggering crime and poverty that still afflict millions.

"The world has seen this country in a different light," President Jacob Zuma boasted.

The first World Cup on African soil has also rubbed off on the rest of the continent, often written off in shades of despair, as 17 states mark 50 years of independence from European colonial powers.

Newspapers from around the world have declared the World Cup a "win for all of Africa", "a big successful party", and a "well-organized Cup" as visiting celebrities gushed about the host.

"The explosion of national pride and the unity that has been displayed by all South Africans is an invaluable benefit of the tournament," Zuma said.

Despite stadium white elephant worries - the perennial headache of major sports events - the finance ministry says a 38 billion rand ($5 billion) investment in the event paid off without overburdening a budget already financing a $110 billion construction spree.

And the real gains, South Africa believes, are in changing the world's perceptions, a benefit that is hard to quantify.

"You could never pay for it, so I think it's invaluable," said Gillian Saunders, director of Grant Thornton advisory services.

For more audio news, log on to language.chinadaily.com.cn. I’m Renee Haines

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

World Cup gives South Africa a new image overseas

About the broadcaster:

World Cup gives South Africa a new image overseas

Renee Haines is an editor and broadcaster at China Daily. Renee has more than 15 years of experience as a newspaper editor, radio station anchor and news director, news-wire service reporter and bureau chief, magazine writer, book editor and website consultant. She came to China from the United States.