Blatter leaves SA

2010-07-15 14:02

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has left South Africa.

The Fifa media department confirmed that the football body

president left the country yesterday, having arrived at the beginning of

June.

The man whose security detail in the country matched that of a

president, left the country happy, pronouncing the 2010 World Cup a resounding

success.

He awarded South Africa a whopping 9 of 10 for its efforts, a score

above the 7.5 the country scored after hosting the Confederations Cup last year

– seen as a litmus test for the World Cup.

Ordinary South Africans hailed him as a hero after he announced in

2004 that the country had won the right to host the world’s biggest sporting

event.

But as the tournament neared and Blatter’s grip tightened, this

relationship deteriorated, culminating in reports of him being booed at the

opening and closing games of the World Cup.

This was after reports emerged of key guarantees the government had

to agree on to host the World Cup.

City Press newspaper reported that the SA Revenue Service (Sars)

was “forced to accede to an extraordinary ‘tax bubble’ around ‘Fifa-designated

sites’ which exempts Fifa, its subsidiaries and foreign football associations

from paying income tax, customs duties and value-added tax”.

Media controls, stringent trademark rules, pricey tickets and

complicated ways to procure them all added to citizens’ disenchantment with the

football body.

However, despite the scepticism from the international community

and the media, which blighted the country’s journey to the World Cup, Blatter

remained steadfast in his belief that South Africa could host it

successfully.

This prompted President Jacob Zuma to announce at a post-World Cup

briefing that Blatter had been “vindicated” by South Africa’s successful hosting

of the event.

Zuma said: “Our hosting of this historic Fifa World Cup on African

soil vindicates Mr Blatter’s strong conviction that we were capable of

delivering a spectacular and successful event.”

Blatter also vigorously defended the use of the vuvuzela after the

droning instrument raised the chagrin of international football players and

fans.

He urged visitors to “adapt”, saying the instrument was “part of

African soccer culture”.

Blatter departed yesterday with an estimated $3.2 billion (about

R24.2 billion) in revenue from the South African tournament. Exact figures would

only be available in Fifa’s next financial report.

His attention would no doubt now turn to the 2014 Fifa World Cup in

Brazil.



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