While the mercury on Cape Town’s Long Street edged toward 30 degrees Celsius on Friday as thousand of revellers packed the street for the 2010 Fifa Final Draw party, many guys had their shirts off. But none could boast a torso like football fanatic Gary Smith’s. Attention was drawn to Smith’s body not because of his good looks, but because as fans adorn themselves with World Cup paraphernalia, Smith has trumped them all with a tattoo of a football stadium across his entire back.
Smith said he was so sure South Africa was at some point going to be awarded the rights to host the World Cup that he got the tatoo in 2000.
South Africa drew the World Cup four years later, in 2004.
Smith was born and bred in what is one of the most crime ridden parts of the world – Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town – but football is his religion, and Manchester United is the team he worships.
He sports not only a football stadium, beneath the words ‘theatre of dreams’ across his back, but also three trophies and a Manchester United crest on his right shoulder.
He also plans to get 2010 tattooed on the top of his chest, but thinks maybe he should wait till after the tournament so he doesn’t get tackled by Fifa who have put got the marketing rights to the number.
A shopfitter by trade, 44-year-old Smith is “keeping his fingers crossed” for England winning the World Cup trophy next year, but believes France will probably take it home.
That’s because they’ve got Thierry Henry’s “hand of God” on their side.
As for South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, his only hope for them is that they get to the second round. “We’re not that good.”
Like football fans around the world, Smith was sipping on a beer as giant puppets and street jugglers and mimes entertained throngs of people – most of them wearing yellow jerseys in support of Bafana Bafana – milling on Cape Town’s famed party street.
Closed off to traffic for much of it’s length, the street on Friday was a bedlam of honking vuvuzelas, cheering crowds, bobbing football hats and the shouts of drinkers competing with the star-studded line up of musicians playing from a four-storey stage at the top of the street.
A giant screen on the stage was also have a live link to the Cape Town International Convention Centre where 3000 dignitaries, including David Beckham and South Africa’s own Hollywood star Charlize Theron, will attend the draw determining where and against who the 32 participating countries will play next year.
The draw was broadcast to about 150 million viewers in 199 countries.
Long Street was expected to host about 15 000 revellers who would party to the early hours of the morning celebrating what Fifa President Sepp Blatter described as the event which marked “the end of doubt” in South Africa’s ability to host the 2010 World Cup. – West Cape News