The Africa Cup of Nations has been hailed as a success.
Despite the failure to sell all tickets for the continental soccer spectacle, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said this week that South Africa set a new benchmark for attendance and ticket sales.
A total of 857 473 tickets were sold for the tournament, surpassing the local organising committee’s initial target of 500 000.
The LOC has also confirmed that there were no serious security incidents during the tournament, and that transport to and from the stadiums hosting the Afcon games ran without a hitch.
Several of the games were also sold out, including the final, after which Nigeria lifted the trophy for the third time since 1994.
World Cup and soccer tournament analyst Nikolaus Eberl said South Africa should be proud of the tournament it hosted.
“This Afcon edition certainly beat the previous two held in Gabon and Angola respectively, in terms of spectator attendance and quality of the organisation,” said Eberl.
He added that the tournament would stand out for the fervent passion of the visiting fans.
“The colourful Ethiopian fans surprised everybody by travelling in huge numbers.”
More than 15 000 fans had reportedly come from Ethiopia.
“Also, the Nigerian fans were notable and just for the final game, 39 additional flights were logged from Lagos to Nigeria.”
Eberl added, however, that there had been no marketing for the tournament.
“The problem was that (the) Treasury had not bought into hosting another football tournament so soon after the World Cup.
“The marketing funds were only released in December 2012, which was far too late for any serious marketing campaigns.”
With the tournament being hailed a success, Eberl said several legacies would be left behind.
“South Africa has certainly confirmed its reputation as being Africa’s shopping mecca,” said Eberl.
“Retail has seen a major upswing at popular shopping venues such as Sandton City where visitors were greatly attracted by the year-end specials.”
“As a shopping destination, Johannesburg has gained the most – by attracting the bulk of the official visitors to the main Sandton hotels, Sandton City astutely positioned itself as the shopping centre of choice and has collected the lion’s share of the shopping dollars.”
Eberl added that South Africa had now positioned itself well for attracting future continental sporting events and garnered much goodwill from the visiting countries and their football federations.
The local organising committee has also said South Africa will gain immediate benefits from hosting such a major sporting event.
“There are a lot of benefits attached to any international sporting event; some of them are tangible and some are intangible,” said committee spokesman Sipho Sithole.
“For instance, intangible benefits were the social causes that were part of this tournaments, such as the fight against malaria with the United Against Malaria project, HIV/Aids with UNAids, Make Peace Happen with the AU, and education with 1Goal.”
“Also the employment of 2 500 volunteers, 107 interns, small and medium enterprises doing business with the LOC/Afcon, accommodation and transport, etc.”
Sithole added that CAF had distributed 3 000 adidas soccer balls to schools to the nine provinces.
The committee was overjoyed at the success of the tournament, he added.
“We had a target of 500 000 tickets and we exceeded this target by 357 473.
“Preliminary reports from CAF indicate that South Africa has set a new benchmark in terms of attendance and ticket sales.
“We hosted a very successful tournament and that has been confirmed by the CAF organising committee,” added Sithole.
The local organising committee could not comment on how much money had been spent on the tournament because the figures were still being reconciled.
In Joburg, which hosted the opening game of Afcon as well as the final, said the City of Joburg was delighted at being given the two major games of the tournament.
“The two games were most welcomed by the city,” said council spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane.
“It was a good decision to spread the games across other venues in the country so that the South African citizenry gets to appreciate the tournament at large.”
He said Joburg had been satisfied with just the two games because the other provinces would have suffered if Joburg had held more than two games.
Modingoane added that the tournament had helped to Joburg position itself as a world-class sporting destination of choice with world-class infrastructure and the ability to host major events.
He added that Joburg was the destination to be this month, having hosted several huge events.
“Hosting the opening and final matches should not be looked at in isolation of other events that took place,” Modingoane said.
“Joburg was the popular destination and the place to be in the first week of February. The council facilities were optimally used,” he added.
“The council hosted several events that promoted Joburg as an attractive sporting destination and increasing the tourism spent and numbers.” – Saturday Star