OUR WORLD CUP: The South African flag flies on the back of a makarapa during the opening ceremony of the Soccer World Cup in Joburg in 2010.

Sameer Naik

For many South Africans the 2010 Soccer World Cup is a distant memory, but we should be proud: it was the best World Cup ever. On Monday, we will celebrate two years since hosting the tournament and although everyone has since lapsed into normal life, the historic event has left a lasting legacy, according to World Cup analyst Nikolaus Eberl.

“In terms of visitor feedback, 2010 has been rated the best World Cup ever, as it received a 92 percent Net Promoter Score from visitors compared to 88 percent in Germany 2006,” Eberl said.

“Financially too, 2010 was the most successful World Cup Fifa has ever held, breaking through the $4 billion mark in revenue.”

Eberl added that among the most noticeable benefits has been football development in the country, nation branding and safety and security.

“Probably the most visible legacy has been the construction of artificial pitches in rural areas.

“South Africa’s brand image shot up considerably. It is now ranked 36th out of the top 50 nation brands and voted the most valuable country brand in Africa by the Brand Finance Nation Brand Index.”

Eberl said safety and security was one of the most sustainable legacies. “The perceptions of South Africa as a dangerous destination have been dispelled once and for all. Even the domestic media have moved away from beating the crime drum and are now focusing on more constructive issues such as health, education and service delivery.”

In terms of tourism, he said South Africa had benefited hugely. “In 2011, the country became one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world. In a recent survey by TripAdvisor.com, respondents voted Cape Town as the number one tourist destination on the planet.”

Eberl added that South Africa’s primary goal for the World Cup was to reverse stereotypes about Destination SA being unsafe for visitors and investors.

“Perceptions about South Africa have improved significantly and the country is now considered as a primary choice for hosting international events.”

So what was the main highlight of the 2010 World Cup? Eberl singled out the nationwide parade that took place two days before the start of the World Cup.

“The nation took to the streets to celebrate that South Africa was ready to stage the greatest sporting spectacle on earth. This has never happened at a World Cup before.”

Eberl believes that Africa’s chance of hosting a Fifa World Cup again could be round the corner.

“As the European markets are collapsing and the US recovery is slow, Africa has become the most lucrative place for staging global events,” Eberl said.

“It is highly likely that either the 2026 or 2030 edition will return to Africa, probably a country in West Africa, a region that is growing exponentially and has produced some of the best footballers to date.”