We published this series of articles five years ago. We think they are still relevant, so we are republishing them now.
By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (November 27th 2009)
There are only a few short months to go before South Africa prepares to welcome football’s élite to the first World Cup on African soil. The Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee of South Africa’s World Cup Dr Danny Jordaan worked hard to bring the tournament to Africa. He was involved in the bid for the 2006 World Cup, which controversially failed when the late Charles Dempsey, Oceania’s representative, ignored the instructions of his confederation and abstained rather than support South Africa’s bid, which failed by one vote.
Dr Jordaan granted Empower-Sport Magazine an exclusive interview, during which he recalled those hard times. “Well of course it was a huge disappointment”, he said. “It was a technical aberration at that World Cup. South Africa alongside Germany was the two countries best placed to host the World Cup. I think England had tried, but it came down to Germany and South Africa and therefore we had a lot of confidence, but when we lost it was a huge disappointment, but we understood that that was a setback”.
After the disappointment, they dusted themselves off and set about turning despair to elation. They set about ensuring that next time their bid would succeed. “We must pursue the ideal that Africa must host the World Cup because now it would be over a hundred years since FIFA was established in 1904 and Africa also had the right to host this event, so we prepared for 2010”, Jordaan said.
He gets a lot of criticism, much of it deserved in the wake of corruption scandals, but some of the good Sepp Blatter did gets washed away as a result. “I think one must acknowledge the support of the President Sepp Blatter in supporting the African cause in making sure that the World Cup will eventually be hosted on the African continent”, Jordaan said and he was right.
FIFA introduced the rotation policy to ensure that Africa got its chance and South Africa emerged victorious. Hosting the tournament was part of Jordaan’s vision to promote his country on the world stage.
“It was something that we wanted to do because after 1994 there was elections”, said Jordaan. “In 1990 [Nelson] Mandela walked out of prison. ‘94 we had our first democratic elections and one of the things that we had to make sure of is that we must not be forgotten by the international community – rather that South Africa must be discussed at the dinner tables, the lunch tables of the big business companies and I believe that our aim must be to be discussed at every dinner table and coffee table of the world”.