THE prophets of gloom have long been silenced.
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a complete success. The only problem was that Germany did not reach the final, but that was no fault of the South African organisers. My German heart is beating here.
Germany and Spain played the best football. Germany's game was perhaps even more inspiring than Spain's.
At the last meeting of the organising committee shortly before the end of the tournament everything was given top marks. The organisation, security, all went well. It was not only the great stadiums, some of the best in the world, that impressed. South Africa was a wonderful host.
Even fears that South African fans would be in mourning and might lose interest after their team went out in the group stage proved to be unfounded. The opposite was the case.
The South Africans were enthusiastic followers, out on the streets, supporting foreign teams and fans to the last. It was heartfelt, and the most valuable aspect of all in this country. All Africa profits from it.
Only at the beginning were there one or two shortcomings. South Africa wasn't used to transporting such a mass of people. But it was a problem fixed relatively quickly. The overall picture was always positive.
The fact that luxury hotels were sometimes a bit empty had nothing to do with the South Africans but was a matter for Fifa and their agency Match.
A bone of contention for me right up to and including the final was the performance of the referees. That's also an issue for Fifa.
In my initial anger I said it would be best to wipe the slate clean and start again. It can't carry on like this, with yellow cards being shown every time a player coughs.
Spain are worthy world champions despite my doubts about their goal-scoring.
The Dutch had actually exported this ball-possession game to Spain.
The present Dutch side had the better strike force in players like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt and, lying deeper, Wesley Sneijder. But Iker Casillas in the Spain goal had another brilliant evening, and Spain were the stronger team.
The longer the game lasted the more their technical ability shone through, as was also the case in the second half against Germany in the semifinal.
Youth proved Germany's downfall in the end. With less experience you play less consistently. The performances in beating England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 could not be bettered against Spain, and Spain deserved to reach the final.
After Europe's initial disappointments with the exits of titleholders Italy, France, Greece and England, everything turned out fine in the end. For the first time, a European side has won the World Cup outside the European continent. With two European teams in the final and Germany taking third place with the 3-2 victory over a surprisingly strong Uruguay, it was a positive turnaround for Europe.
Uruguay's Diego Forlán deserved to win the Golden Ball award as best player of the tournament, a small consolation prize for Uruguay.
That Europe could so dominate is, I believe, down to the weakness of Brazil and Argentina. The two great South American nations could not bring out their best. Brazil have changed their style. The 2014 hosts played more European than all the Europeans together, and became predictable as a result. That is bound to change by the next World Cup.
Argentina, after convincing victories at the start of the tournament, simply couldn't cope on the day against Germany. In the 4-0 defeat they came up against a wonderfully prepared Germany team, so you really can't blame them for losing.
Let's hope we will have such a beautiful tournament in 2014 as we have had here in South Africa. - Sapa-DPA