What would Danny Jordaan do?

2014-06-15 15:00

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With the 2014 Fifa World Cup having kicked off on Thursday, four years after the SA event, FIFA.comasked SA 2010 World Cup CEO Danny Jordaan for his insight into the event?and the possible spin-offs thereof.

How does it feel being four years removed from South Africa 2010?

People say there are a few great moments in our history: the day Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, the day on which all of us went to vote for the first time in our country and the day of the opening ceremony, with the wonderful concert before the opening match. These are special moments for us. We will cherish them.

Nelson Mandela came on the night of the final. It was a bitterly cold night, but he insisted on coming because he wanted to embrace the best of the human spirit and be part of debunking the myth that Africa would never have the capacity to deliver such a complex, complicated event as the World Cup.

There were questions about what was going to happen in South Africa after the World Cup. Can you tell us what legacy you have seen the World Cup leave in South Africa?

Legacy is determined during the bidding stage. What is it that must be left behind as a benefit for your country after the event? Remember, the event lasts just 30 days and you cannot construct a long-term plan and determine its success or failure by what happens over those 30 days. We were clear about what we wanted to achieve. Our country had a struggle to change the perception of South Africa and the African continent in general. People refer to the concept of Afro-pessimism. To show the world that Africa has potential and capability and that it is not a hopeless continent – as it was made out to be – we wanted to change the notion of an Afro-pessimists’ view of Africa. Africa is now a place for business, trade and investment. This is what we want.

Would you agree that an investment in the World Cup is intended to be a long-term one and cannot only be judged over the duration of the tournament itself?

For example, in preparation for the World Cup, we built new airports in our country and invested in Joburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

When we invested in airport expansion, it was not just for the 30 days of the World Cup. That would be a total misrepresentation. It’s part of tourism growth in our country. And we have seen tremendous growth as a result.

You cannot buy those results with all of the money in the world – and we tried. We spent R400?million over a 10-year period on marketing. It didn’t work. The real-life experience of those who came to the World Cup and saw the country’s infrastructure and engaged with South Africans is how you convince people to come to your country.

The media have claimed Fifa earned $3?billion (R32?billion) on South Africa 2010, while the host country has been left in $3?billion debt. What is the reality of that claim?

There is no reality in that claim. It is simply false. We did not build any infrastructure for the World Cup based on loans. So we have no outstanding loans as a consequence of the World Cup.

South Africa and every other country incurred loans after 2008 as a result of the global economic crisis, but it was not a result of the World Cup.

As for Fifa’s profits, even if Fifa hosts the World Cup on the moon, the majority of that money comes from the television broadcast rights. So it is a total misrepresentation.

There have been criticisms about the stadiums that were built for South Africa 2010, which are now not being used. How would you respond to that?

We had 10 stadiums. Four were existing stadiums; we built five and upgraded one. Of those new stadiums, two of them have now received teams with Premier

League status in Nelspruit and Polokwane. It is important to have weekly use of the stadium to make sure it is commercially viable and those stadiums have those anchor tenants, so I think they will be able to generate the revenue.

You are aware there are some worries from the people of Brazil on the eve of the start of the World Cup. Do you understand their worries about the money spent for the World Cup?

I certainly understand that, particularly in developing countries. But you cannot build a society that is focused only on building schools and houses. There must be recreation.

You cannot build a society that has no possibility to create for the young generation in your country the opportunity to be whatever they want to be. And some of these kids dream to be the next Ronaldo, Pelé or Neymar.

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