Controversial refereeing in the FIFA World Cup have rekindled debate over ‘technologizing’ one of the few sports where judgments still rely on human skills alone.
Away from the pitch, however, the global soccer contest was as reliant on technical muscle as any other major sporting event, with cast-iron networking infrastructure ensuring every second of every match could be faithfully relayed to millions worldwide.
But a critical difference between this World Cup and the last one, held in Germany, or last year’s Olympics in China is that the contest was not hosted by an economic superpower with high-grade networking infrastructure.
The 2010 World Cup was a test not just of the world’s elite soccer teams but also of the ability of an African nation, South Africa, to host the event. And the evidence so far points to a resounding success from which two important lessons emerge.
The first is that Africa can no longer be considered a technological backwater. With mobile phone penetration soaring and undersea cables now starting to provide much-needed backhaul and broadband capacity, the continent is now getting the infrastructure it needs for a digital transition.
The second, related point is that Africa also has the manpower and skills for major projects such as wiring up a country to host the World Cup.
Cisco’s South Africa team was among those from many regional companies who hard behind the scenes to make the event a technical success, supplying everything from basic Internet plumbing to state-of-the-art TelePresence suites.
Much of this equipment is being left ‘in the ground’ as an enduring legacy after the end of the Cup—a fitting reward for a community which has shown such world-class form in hosting the event.