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Cold play in South Africa as fans shiver in football fest

None of those geography lessons from school and mental preparation on the flight from Mumbai made shivering on an early June morning any less disconcerting. This, after wearing a jacket. Dhiman Sarkar reports.

sports Updated: Jun 19, 2010 00:18 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

None of those geography lessons from school and mental preparation on the flight from Mumbai made shivering on an early June morning any less disconcerting. This, after wearing a jacket.

It's only got worse since. Over the next four days, the minimum temperature here is predicted to be either 0 degree Celsius or 2. The maximum temperature will be 15 degrees or below and the average wind speed is 19 kmph.

The media here is confident that this is the coldest WC ever with one report stating that the mercury dipped to -10.3 degrees Celsius on Wednesday in Frankfort in the Free State whose capital Bloemfontein is a World Cup venue and roughly 400km from Johannesburg .

It's made evening games a chilling experience. Humberto, who's travelled from Venezuela, and his friend Rafael from Brazil, reported many people left at half-time during Brazil's opener against North Korea, at Ellis Park on Tuesday. They braved it because Rafael bought his ticket for $200 from a tout on matchday.

That evening it was 3 degrees Celsius before kick-off. Even inside the huge, heated tents that the stadium media centres are and with at least 200 people, the howling wind could be felt and cold feet was a literal state of being.

“I need to bang away as soon as the game begins otherwise my hands will freeze,” a portly South African reporter was overheard saying on Wednesday in Pretoria when it was worse. That night, according to the South Africa Weather Service, the mercury had dipped to -3.2 degrees in Johannesburg, making it the coldest ever in June. The city is getting used to frost, icy roads, burst geysers and even power shortage.

All this has led to gloves, beanies and scarves being as much in demand as vuvuzelas and, ironically, ear plugs. How those McDonald's cheer girls stay warm in that skimpy red-and-yellow dress while swaying to Shakira at half-time at every game is probably the best-kept secret of the 2010 finals.