Cape Town — The numbers surrounding the 2010 Fifa World Cup draw to be held here on Friday are both record-breaking and staggering.
The show, which will last around 90 minutes, will be beamed to 200 countries, a massive leap from the 137 countries for the draw for Germany 2006. Viewership figures are set to exceed the 130 million who watched the names come out the pots four years ago, with some estimates putting the number at 200 million.
It speaks volumes for the globalisation of the sport, but also for the excitement and genuine interest in this first African World Cup. It is clear that the world is not entirely sure what to expect from South Africa and the tournament, and so will watch with fascination as events unfold.
Organisers of the draw say 3,254 people will be involved in its management, from volunteers and security personnel through to production staff. The production crew will be the same as that used in the 2007 draw, in Durban, for the World Cup qualifiers and in the 2008 draw, in Johannesburg, for this year’s Fifa Confederations Cup.
The glitz and glamour will be provided by Hollywood actress Charlize Theron, a native of South Africa, while the footballing razzmatazz comes in the form of another Hollywood couple, English icon David Beckham and his wife Victoria. They’ll be there to provide images for newspapers around the world.
More important, 27 of the 32 coaches of the national teams which have qualified for the tournament had confirmed by Monday that they will be here.
But there will be one notable absentee: Argentine tactician Diego Maradona was banned from football for two months by Fifa following a foul-mouthed tirade to the press after his side qualified for the finals by beating Uruguay in October. The ban extends to attending the draw in Cape Town.
It is a shame for one of the game's great characters, but organisers are no doubt relieved that the “loose cannon” that is Maradona will not be providing them with additional headaches.
The programme for the draw itself will see South African President Jacob Zuma and Fifa President Sepp Blatter take the stage to give speeches, while there will also be a video production which shows Fifa’s projects in Africa.
Each of the 32 qualifying teams will be individually introduced, and then the history of the World Cup will be portrayed in a video.
Traditional African music and dancing against the backdrop of a set design incorporating baobab trees will give a distinctly African aura to the show.