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S Africa urged to build on World Cup success

South Africa today basked in the World Cup`s afterglow as the country was urged to build on the success and unity inspired by the football showcase to tackle pressing social challenges.



Johannesburg: South Africa today basked in
the World Cup`s afterglow as the country was urged to build on
the success and unity inspired by the football showcase to
tackle pressing social challenges.

Yesterday`s final at Soccer City stadium here was crowned
with an appearance by Nelson Mandela ahead of Spain`s 1-0
victory over Netherlands in front of a capacity crowd with 700
million people watching world-wide.

The 91-year-old Nobel laureate and global icon brought
rapturous cheers as he rode on the field with his wife Graca
Machel at the end of the closing ceremony to Africa`s
widely-praised first World Cup.

But amid wide praise, the focus turned today to
harnessing the unity and success to tackle the challenges
still facing South Africa 20 years after Mandela walked free
from apartheid jail.

"We`ve done it!" blared The Times front page, adding "Now
the lessons of hosting the Cup must be applied to service
delivery".

"The tournament could not have come at a better time.
Just a few months ago ... our very existence as a united and
non-racial nation was being questioned," its editorial said.

"But with the World Cup came the outpouring of South
African patriotism in ways we have never seen before."

"This is a spirit we should not lose now that the
tournament has ended."

The Business Day said the benefits of uniting the country
needed to be weighed against pressing social needs.

"That said, it would, not be difficult to argue, in fact,
that we did not spend enough money on the Cup," it said.

"FIFA World Cup 2010 has opened the eyes of the world to
what we have to offer, while simultaneously reminding South
Africans what is possible. It is a sublime combination, rich
with opportunities we dare not waste."

For South Africans, the enormous national pride at
hosting the tournament outshone the football stars such as
Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney.

But while the World Cup was marked by a show of unity,
massive challenges now lurk in a country still struggling to
bridge a racial divide and a gaping chasm between rich and
poor.

"This has been a wonderful World Cup, but it doesn`t
negate the fact that the majority of South Africans don`t have
houses, schools, clinics, running water and many more things,"
retired archbishop Desmond Tutu said.

President Jacob Zuma said the World Cup brought
"priceless" benefits for bringing South Africans of all races
into the stands.

"To just present a new South Africa that we dreamt about
when Mandela walked out of prison in 1990 becoming a reality
in 2010, and that was special," said the top organiser Danny
Jordaan, also a veteran of the struggle against the
white-minority apartheid regime.

"The contribution to this society is the new sense of
pride, walking tall and being united," he said.

"This World Cup created a platform for South Africans to
sit together and discover their own sense of pride and their
concerns and their hope for the future."

South Africa has delighted in proving wrong sceptics`
fears that its rampant crime and rudimentary public transport
made it an inappropriate venue for the world`s most widely
watched sporting event.

The deployment of more than 40,000 police helped prevent
any killings of football fans while an overhaul of public
transport saw many South Africans leave their cars at home for
the first time.

FIFA says overall attendance at all matches topped three
million, only the third tournament to do so, and predicted the
television audience will top 700 million with live broadcasts
in 215 countries and territories.

On Sunday night, Colombian superstar Shakira performed
her World Cup anthem "Waka Waka" on the field, which was
transformed into a giant screen used to project a highlights
reel of the tournament`s best moments.

More than 700 performers showed off the nation`s varied
musical heritage, while giant elephant puppets glided across
the field.

Bureau Report

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