Workers install a giant soccer ball in the centre of a traffic roundabout near the stadium in Cuiaba prior to the 2014 World Cup. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Johannesburg - South Africa on Wednesday wished 2014 Fifa World Cup host Brazil a successful sporting event.

“On behalf of government and people of South Africa, we wish Brazil all of the best. Football has the ability to unite people from different cultures and backgrounds,” Government Communication and Information Systems deputy CEO Nebo Legoabe said in a statement.

“It is our hope that, just as we experienced this in 2010, a deep sense of pride and confidence will sweep over Brazil, as the world experiences its rich culture and vibrancy, and its hosting of this major event.”

The four-week feast of football in the sport’s spiritual homeland gets under way in Sao Paulo on Thursday, when Brazil faces Croatia.

The build-up to the event in Brazil has been marred by social unrest.

A wage strike by Sao Paulo subway workers last week brought the city to a standstill, and led to riot police firing teargas to break up a protest before the walkout was suspended on Monday.

Union leaders threatened to resume the strike during the tournament if their demands were not met.

On Tuesday, subway workers in Rio de Janeiro, which hosts seven games including the final, threatened similar action.

South Africa's national team failed to qualify for the event.