Two planes filled with soccer fans headed for Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal between Spain and Germany were forced to turn back from Durban’s King Shaka airport because it was swamped by arrivals, and never made it to the match.
Three other planes were allowed to land, but the severe delays caused fans to miss at least the start of the match, airport operations director Bongani Maseko told The Associated Press.
Maseko said nearly 300 fans were on the planes diverted from the Durban airport, but more than 300 more were affected by the delays. He apologized to anyone who missed the game, won by Spain, 1-0.
Delays caused by weather earlier in the day were compounded by the high number of aircraft trying to land, Maseko said, leading officials to shut down arrivals to the airport.
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King Shaka airport was built to replace the old Durban International and cope with the influx of visitors to the World Cup. The airport opened May 1, and the switchover had been seamless before Wednesday.
Michelle Kaufman, writing in the Miami Herald:
“Germany should have had an inkling (pun intended) that things were not going to go their way because Paul the psychic octopus chose Spain to win. Don’t laugh. This is serious stuff. The eight-legged creature, which lives in Germany, correctly predicted all of Germany’s matches this World Cup.
“… Not sure if Paul has a feeling about Sunday’s final, but I do. If Spain plays how it played the second half Wednesday, it will win. This is Spain’s time.”
Vuvuzelas, the plastic horns heard droning through every World Cup soccer match, have been banned in some of South Africa’s largest malls after shoppers complained.
Sharon Swain, centre manager of Sandton City, said she banned the instruments because, “No one could hear themselves think, let alone speak.”
Sandton City, located in Africa’s most expensive shopping district, has been a hub for World Cup visitors.
Wednesday’s game was interrupted briefly in the fourth minute when an Italian fan carrying a vuvuzela ran onto the field to protest the exclusion of a player from Italy’s squad. Italian news agency ANSA reported that the intruder is named Mario Ferri. … Colombian pop star Shakira will perform the official tournament anthem “Waka Waka” at the closing ceremony. Shakira also performed the song at a June 10 Cup concert in Soweto. ... South African officials say Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is among 14 heads of state who will attend Sunday’s final.