And it could go either way. "It is a wonderful opportunity, and I am sure South Africa will come out of it well," said Paul Browning, a transportation consultant. "We also have the opportunity to fall flat on our face," he quickly added. Browning's comments drive home the point that the South African Football Association is cutting it close. In early January, FIFA, which administers the World Cup, complained that the host had already used up all of the days allotted for stadium construction delays.
Never before has the World Cup taken place in Africa. In fact, according to the economic analysis firm Econometrix, not since Chile was the host of the 1962 World Cup has FIFA awarded its prized tournament to a nation as underdeveloped as this one. South Africa's "dauntingly high" crime-rate, debilitating AIDS epidemic and laundry list of infrastructure problems notwithstanding, FIFA insists that its sticking with South Africa for 2010.