Blatter ‘a happy man’ after visit
Posted: 18 September 2008 Time: 7:07 am
After four days in South Africa meeting with key political leaders and visiting venues, Fifa President Sepp Blatter told a press conference at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg that all stadium workers will get two free tickets to a Fifa World Cup game in their stadium.
“After having been at Soccer City and Ellis Park yesterday, and with all the guarantees and assurances given by the political authorities, I’m a happy man. Together we will make a great success of the Fifa World Cup,” Blatter told the gathering.
“It’s important that you promote this World Cup. Make banners! Put them up all over the world! The Fifa Confederations Cup - our dress rehearsal - is just around the corner. Sometimes I have the feeling, that you are not outspoken enough. It will be good for the credibility of the country. You will be a proud nation after having hosted the competition.”
We have met with the project managers from the different cities, because the venues and the stadiums will play a big role in this FIFA World Cup. The players and spectators will come to the country and to the cities and it’s important that we have things in order.”
Blatter also praised the warm welcome and strong support demonstrated by political and sports authorities, the Local Organising Committee (SALOC) and in particular the South African people with their spontaneous cheers.
He said his satisfaction stemmed from what he had witnessed in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
On the chances of Bafana Bafana and other African participants in 2010, he said: “It’s High Noon now for Bafana Bafana. The host nation needs a good team for this showcase. The talent is here, so bring it together now under the right direction and, for the Confederations Cup, you will have a strong team on display.
“I hope that we can see an African Team in the semi-finals. And if they get to the semis, then why not go to the final. But it will be difficult, as Africa has six representatives in the competition.
“Europe, for example, has 13 and thus has a much greater chance to advance. One day we should change that, but we’ll do it step-by-step.”
In various meetings with political and sports authorities during the last four days, the Fifa President met the President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, the Board of Directors of the Local Organising Committee (SALOC) chaired by Irvin Khoza and comprising, among others, South African Football Association President Molefi Oliphant and SALOC CEO Danny Jordaan.
Additional meetings were held with former Presidents of the Republic of South Africa and joint-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela and Frederick W. de Klerk, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Amos Masondo, the Premier of the Western Cape Province, Lynne Brown and the Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille.
The Fifa President also paid a courtesy visit to ANC-President Jacob Zuma.
SA’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma thanked Blatter for being a champion and passionate supporter who has ensured that Africa is not a forgotten continent and is a major part of the international community: “We promise you that we will do our best. We will not fail you and we will not fail our continent. We are moving forward and I am confident the World Cup will be unique and will show the beauty, vibrancy, culture and nature of the people of our continent,” she said.