From Our Partner Blog: Football Special,For those countless football fans,
Winter World Cup Kicks Off Friday:
The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off this Friday and ends July 11, making it the very first World Cup to take place on African soil, and the first to take place during the winter since Argentina hosted in 1978.
A Winter World Cup?
South Africa is a nation of varying climate and landscape. During the Southern Hemisphere winter, South Africa transitions from warm days to mild and cooler nights.
In the mountains in the northeastern part of the country, temperatures can drop to near or below freezing overnight. In July, the city of Bloemfontein has an average high temperature of 17 degrees C (63 F) and an average low temperature of -2 C (28 F), according to the South Africa Weather Service.
Cities on the coast can also be cool due to sea breeze and current. The warmest cities during the World Cup will likely be inland cities that are low in elevation.
Coastal South Africa will be in the midst of a rainy season during the tournament. The rainy season brings considerably more rainfall to the coast than to areas inland.
Cape Town averages about 93 mm (3.66 inches) of rain in the month of June, and 96 mm (3.78 inches) in July. This may not seem like a lot of rainfall, but compared to Johannesburg's average of 7.6 mm (0.3 inches) in June, there is quite a difference between the two locations.
Rainfall and temperature are not the only things players and spectators will have to deal with this time around. The altitude will be a huge factor and will likely have an effect on the ball and players' performance. Some teams chose to undergo altitude training to acclimate to the conditions.
In 2007, a FIFA ruling declared that no international matches can be played in an elevation above 2,500 meters (8,202 feet). Although the elevation in the mountain cities of South Africa is lower than the limit, someone not used to the altitude could still be affected.
Since each of the 32 teams will play throughout the country, a team may play one match at sea level and play their next one more than a mile above sea level. Six of the 10 stadiums used in the tournament are situated at least 4,000 feet above sea level.
To put things into perspective, both teams playing in the final match in Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, a high-altitude venue, will have played their semifinal match at sea level.
However, these sea-level semifinals are not as even-matched. Both semifinal matches will be played between a team that won its quarterfinal at sea level and a team that won its quarterfinal at altitude.
Weather for Opening Weekend
As for the first few days of group play, rain is expected this weekend along the coast. Cape Town could pick up more than 1 inch of rain from Saturday through Monday as a cold front comes through.
This rain could be seen during gametime, as Cape Town Stadium will host matches on Friday and Monday evenings. Across the inland locations, rain is not expected.
From Mark's blog.