2010 World Cup left African football no better off

This piece is the first in a series looking back on the 2010 World Cup with a decade’s worth of perspective. Over the coming days, we’ll be dissecting the landmark moments that happened and themes that developed in South Africa and their long-tail legacies.

Briefly, for perhaps 24 minutes, it was possible to believe. The World Cup had come to Africa. FIFA was spreading its arms and embracing the globe, taking the sport into new areas, showing that football really was the world’s game. 

Amid feverish excitement in Soweto, the tournament got underway. Siphiwe Tshabalala put South Africa ahead after 55 minutes, with “a goal for all of Africa” as Peter Drury famously and aptly put it on the UK commentary. Don’t examine that too closely, don’t pick it apart: in the moment it felt hugely symbolic. 

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