During the Knock Out Phase of the cup I had the opportunity to visit restricted parts of Soccer City. The tour began in the Stadium’s Media Center and ended in a broadcasting set in the Cup’s International Broadcasting Center. The Media Center had computers for journalists and included a McCafe. Though we were not allowed to enter the player locker rooms – the teams that were playing were super superstitious – we had a chance to walk through the player’s entrance tunnel, touch the grass on the field and watch the Sony and McD volunteers practice walking out with the flags. The McD children held the hands of volunteers in the place of the Mexican and Argentinean players. The director informed us that the children were expected to practice and practice until the directors of that portion of match were satisfied. While we were in the stadium they practiced at least five times. After spending sometime around the pitch we walked to the International Broadcasting Center for the games. This is when my camera died so I unfortunately have no footage of the Broadcasting Center – I borrowed some images from another intern on the tour.
Thousands of kilometers of wires run through Soccer City and its surrounding buildings – bringing people in South Africa and around the world pictures of the games. The Broadcasting Center was a large convention center that had temporary studios built inside. Some of the international media outlets bought a permanent space while others were renting out space based on need. We actually walked passed a German Television Station studio while England and Germany were playing. Every time Germany scored you could hear cheers coming from that direction. The Broadcasting Center has three well-designed viewpoints where reporters could set up and record an interview with an interesting backdrop. The Center also had a 3-D theater where selected games were shown in 3-D. Sony is producing a documentary about the games in 3-D and selected stations in Europe are broadcasting the 3-D games as well. Before heading back to the stadium to drop off the actual tour guests in their suite we visited the Satellite ‘graveyard’ as well as a beautifully designed studio run by a Spanish network.
Throughout the tour I kept reminding myself that the company I was assigned to do hospitality work for provided the majority of the telecommunication infrastructure. I left the stadium as Mexican and Argentinean fans, many with large hats and fake horses, entered the stadium for another game – unaware of the large amount of money invested to provide the technology and infrastructure needed to broadcast the game from Soccer City to around the world.