President Jacob Zuma has applauded the progress of the 2010 Fifa World Cup and says the country will never be the same again after the soccer spectacle.
Speaking at a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event in Sandton yesterday, Zuma said though the country was still facing other challenges such unemployment and crime, South Africans have showed that they can deliver world-class events such as the World Cup.
"Two weeks into the tournament we can proudly say that everything has gone according to plan regarding the logistics of the tournament. This is due to careful planning that began in May 2004 when we were announced as the host country," Zuma said.
He said more than 584000 spectators attended the first 11 games of the tournament, with more than 84000 attending the kickoff match.
On foreigners visiting the country in the first two weeks of June, Zuma said the movement control system recorded the arrival of more than one million travellers in the country.
"Of this figure close to 500000 were foreigners," Zuma said.
He said the tournament was a catalyst for development, the benefits of which would be felt "long after the final whistle".
The newly built stadiums would be further utilised for other sporting codes such as rugby and cricket.
"We are also looking into getting foreign soccer stars, especially during the European leagues season, to come and play here," Zuma said.
"We also need to be innovative and bring back provincial soccer competitions that have not been there for a long time in this country."
He urged the nation to go on supporting Bafana Bafana.
"We are truly excited by the success and the spirit engulfing the country.
"For the first time ever in the 16 years of freedom democracy, we see black and white South Africans celebrating together in the stadiums and fan parks."