After defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in a closely contested match, Spain has won the World Cup for the first time — but host country South Africa came out looking pretty good, too. In a nation best known for its poverty, racial divisions, and AIDS epidemic, South Africa proved the skeptics and naysayers wrong and showed that an African nation can host World Cup with resounding success. If South Africa and its neighbors can build off this regional PR coup, will the world's poorest continent ultimately be the biggest winner of the 2010 World Cup? (Watch a compilation of the top moments from the 2010 World Cup)
Africa, 1; Skeptics, 0: An African team didn't win the World Cup, but "the official outcome was beside the point, says Dayo Olopade in The Washington Post. Africa showed "it could compete." South Africa's success in hosting, and Ghana's success on the field, made the World Cup "an essential engine for African self-confidence" and "continental solidarity."
"How Africa won the World Cup"
Next up, the summer Olympics? "This has very much been the continent's tournament," say Robb Stewart and Matthew Futterman in The Wall Street Journal. But time will tell if Africa "as a whole will benefit from the mainly positive coverage of sport's most-watched spectacle." South Africa isn't resting on its laurels: It's got its eyes on becoming the first African nation to host the Olympics, in 2020.
"South Africa has big goals after Cup success"
Let's not get ahead of ourselves: An African Olympics? "Why not?" asks Alec Russell in the Financial Times. Well, for all the "talk of a turning point for Africa," the continent still faces a mountain of problems, and "fluffy optimism is as unhelpful as Afro-pessimism." South Africa "is on a high" now, but if it doesn't tackle its high unemployment and inequality, it will wake up with an "acute" hangover.
"After the rapture how to make Africa roar"
Africa's image makeover — priceless: The tournament was way over-budget, and didn't go off without some "transport mix-ups and armed robberies," says Robyn Dixon in the Los Angeles Times, but "if the first World Cup on African soil wasn't perfect, at least it was real." What people will remember is "the event's vibrancy and enthusiasm, and its ebullient African style."
"South Africa the nation is the big World Cup winner"