Blatter: Now there’s no doubt about 2010

2007-11-26 00:00

LAST night’s near-faultless 2010 World Cup Preliminary Draw ended any debate that the global event will be held in this country, and will be a success, said Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

The draw, to determine the continental qualifying schedule for 2010, was held at the ICC in Durban and televised live on 34 television channels worldwide. It was the first official Fifa event to be held in South Africa in the build-up to 2010.

“It [the draw] is the kickoff,” Blatter said. “It is the window of South Africa that is opening to the world through television and through the media, and now there is no doubt that the 2010 World Cup will be here and will be a big success.”

The only slight blemish was a video clip that lost its sound for about 15 seconds. Even Bafana Bafana being drawn with arch-nemesis Nigeria in the 2010 African Nations Cup qualifiers could not ruin the event.

Asked what message last night’s draw sent out, Local Organising Committee (LOC) CEO Danny Jordaan replied: “I said before, there may be doubting Thomases, now there will only be Thomases.”

He added: “I’m very happy. We worked long and hard and it’s what we wanted in the end and we are absolutely delighted. It’s a celebration of Africa.

“That is what we promised, an efficient, celebratory World Cup in our country. It shows that we can do it. This is the first hi-definition television show from South Africa.”

In his address, President Thabo Mbeki said: “We reiterate what we said more than a year ago in Berlin, at the unveiling of the Fifa World Cup South Africa emblem, that Africa is ready, that Africa’s time has come”.

The official slogan for the 2010 World Cup was also announced at the draw by LOC chairman Irvin Khoza. It is: “Ke Nako [It’s time]. Celebrate Africa’s Humanity.”

Khoza said: “We felt it appropriate that we develop a message and a theme that would represent the objectives of the football family, as well as the intentions of the African diaspora”.

Blatter added: “Football is a game that shall bring people together to unite nations.

“And here it is also time to unite your nation through football.”

Delegates attending the draw included Holland’s soccer coach Marco van Basten, Portugal coach Luis Felipe Scolari, and Russia’s Dutch coach Guus Hiddink.

Senegalese artist Youssou N’Dour, South African band Freshlyground and jazz artist Judith Sepuma were among the performers.

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