(WFI) A carnival atmosphere at Ellis Park in Johannesburg underpinned a thrilling finale to the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament, as Brazil showed their undeniable class to overcome a determined USA 3-2.
The U.S. team looked on target for another upset, going into the break two goals up, but the Brazilians launched a stunning comeback to level the score before bagging a winner in the 84th minute. The official crowd of 52,291 was fittingly the best crowd of the tournament.
FIFA chiefs appear pleased with the staging of the final, with no major crowd control and event management issues to give cause for concern less than a year before the World Cup kicks off in South Africa.
Match day arrangements by tournament organizers, who will also be involved in staging next year’s FIFA showpiece, allowed for effective crowd control and tight security. Extra police at access points to the stadium helped pat-down searches on fans and minimized delays for supporters entering the venue.
Inside the ground, fans were targeted with entertainment attractions operated by the tournament’s commercial partners including Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai, Sony, BP, Castrol, Adidas and South African mobile operator MTN.
Despite a distinct lack of creativity on the part of the sponsors – four pavilions featured penalty kick competitions – fans queued to get involved.
Adidas gave fans the opportunity to pose for a photograph next to a giant-sized replica of the official ball for next year’s World Cup; Emirates added a technological twist to its penalty-kick attraction, with fans having to put the ball past a simulated video goalkeeper.
Sony gave some of the more outrageously outfitted fans a chance to be interviewed in their pavilion, while MTN stuck to the tried and trusted tactic of pulling fans up on to a stage and getting them partying to loud dance music while offering them branded merchandise.
Organizers Address Fan Issues
There were also signs tournament organizers have been paying close attention to some problems encountered by fans and making genuine attempts to iron them out.
At the South Africa vs Brazil semifinal at Ellis Park two days ago, a badly positioned food and beverage marquee behind one grandstand had created a potentially dangerous crowd control situation, with queuing fans blocking a key access point between stands and toilet amenities.
Arrangements were changed for the final, with fans cordoned off into an orderly single-file line, avoiding another bottleneck.
Organizers also continued to tweak the troubled ‘Park and Ride’ facility in the venue precinct at Ellis Park. It aimed to avoid congestion caused by too many vehicles in the precinct by allowing fans to catch a shuttle bus to and from the stadium from one of four designated car parks a short distance from the venue.
Early problems with the service led to long delays for fans waiting for shuttles, some arriving late to matches as a result.
An organizing committee spokesman said the City of Johannesburg, which was responsible for the service, improved the system by substituting the small shuttle buses for larger coaches and streamlining the marshalling of fans.
A public address announcement during the closing minutes of the Confederations Cup final urged fans using the ‘Park and Ride’ service to take their time leaving the stadium, reminding them it would be operational up to four hours after the end of the match.
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