“The country needs to get World Cup fever and, hopefully, Port Elizabeth will be the first host destination to catch the bug.”

These were the words of Dr Nikolaus Eberl, author of best sellers Brand Ovation: How Germany won the World Cup of Nations and The Hero‘s Journey: Building of World Champions at a business briefing hosted by the Port Elizabeth Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Percci) and Businesswomen‘s Association (BWA) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University yesterday.

The briefing was the last of a series that have been running throughout the year to give people, mainly entrepreneurs, a chance to engage before, during and after 2010.

Eberl, also a commentator on CNBC Africa, highlighted the stereotypes and negativity that existed before the 2006 World Cup in Germany. “The German stereotypes changed after the hosting of the tournament. It was about much more than just soccer, but the Germans proved themselves to be truly a ‘love generation‘,” said Eberl.

Coincidentally, Germany was surrounded by similar negativity to that looming around the 2010 host nation, South Africa.

In 2004, Germany was plagued by xenophobia issues and the German national soccer team was not doing well, crashing out of the Euro 2004 tournament, leading to a number of coaches avoiding taking over the national side‘s head coach position.

“The change was drastic during and after the World Cup. The entire 82 million population was transformed in 34 days, the German economy lifted, unemployment dropped by 29 per cent, tourism bookings increased by 31% and nine months after the tournament Germany experienced a baby boom,” said Erbel.

Many of the guests were moved by the speaker who encouraged a civic effort starting from the lower sections of society to get involved in making a successful hosting of the tournament, which ought to be “a people‘s event and not one planned by the government”.

Nelson Mandela Bay municipality spokesman Kupido Baron said the people needed to change the despondency about Bafana Bafana.

Eberl added: “It‘s not the stadiums nor the soccer, but the unity that is impressive. Port Elizabeth and South Africa have what it takes to be successful hosts.”

PUBLICATION: The Herald Online
AUTHOR: Chumani Bambani
DATED: 5th November 2008