Trophy must remain in the continent: JZ

2010-06-08 10:36

President Jacob Zuma said yesterday he was hopeful that many of the

soccer fanatics visiting the country for the Soccer World Cup will learn the

diski dance and dance to proudly South African music.

Speaking at the gala dinner to welcome Fifa dignitaries, Zuma urged

each and every one of them to explore the Africa hospitality and the beauty of

South Africa.

“Interact with our arts, cultures, heritage and enjoy our African

food. Let this be a truly unforgettable African experience,” he said.

Zuma said the World Cup will also help in forging deeper

relationships with the world, adding that hosting the event has also helped

South Africa consolidate the gains achieved after the attainment of

freedom.

“The nation is celebrating like never before. South Africa has come

alive and will never be the same again after this World Cup.”

He said it was the sacrifice and suffering of many South Africans

that has made it possible for the international community to entrust the country

with such a responsibility.

“It is the sacrifices of our African brothers and sisters on the

continent, the diaspora and indeed many in the world over (that made it

possible),” Zuma said. “They refused to rest until South Africa was free of

apartheid oppression.

The World Cup is their celebration too.”

He acknowledged the work by the men and women who worked on the

stadiums, saying they remain “greatest heroes” for working long hours to finish

the stadiums.

They are still toiling to this day on the infrastructure which will

last beyond the World Cup. We are proud of them, said Zuma.

“Thanks to their sweat South Africa has become a stage, and Africa

a theatre, where people now assume their rightful place in the family of

nations.”

The challenge though for employers during this month was to ensure

that there was some productivity at work.

Earlier Fifa president Sepp Blatter whom Zuma bestowed with the

Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in gold, also expressed gratitude to the

construction workers, saying they played a vital role in bringing the tournament

to Africa.

“They have done so much in bringing the famous, magnificent stadia

to end. This merits high appreciation,” said Blatter at the dinner hosted by the

sports and recreation department.

Blatter said that since he started working in the continent around

1976, he has been received warmly and has remained happy. “It became a

friendship and now it’s a love story.”

When he accepted the Order, with his wife by his side, Blatter said

he was overwhelmed by emotions but also that he was grateful to be honoured this

way.

“I’m touched by this honour. I take it for Fifa, the football

family and my own family,” he said before lifting the award high.

The Order is awarded to those who have actively promoted the

interests and aspirations of South Africa through excellent cooperation and

active expression of solidarity and support.

Safa president Kirsten Nemathandani told the hundreds of guests who

were in attendance, including some members of the Cabinet and various sports

bodies, that he was excited and proud of the country hosting the biggest

sporting event.

He thanked Blatter for having faith in the country, describing him

as a man who is committed to the games.

“One cannot work without committed administrators.”

The Gallagher Estates’ conference centre was packed to capacity for

the event, with some of the delegates standing because of shortage of tables and

chairs.

Some guests, including Fifa delegates, were fuming outside

demanding an explanation on the lack of space.

Included in the entertainment for the night were performances by

urban, modern and traditional dancers.

Meanwhile, Zuma congratulated all African teams who have qualified

for the World Cup, saying those players carried the hopes of all Africans on

their shoulders.

“The instruction to African teams is unambiguous. The trophy must

remain in the African continent,” he said.


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