Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy

Lessons absorbed during the long years of the struggle against apartheid contributed towards making the 2010 Fifa World Cup one of the most successful since the event’s inception.

“In the struggle, we learned that if a goal is of national importance, you never give up on it,” reminisced Danny Jordaan, who spearheaded South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup as the chief executive of the Local Organising Committee (LOC).

Jordaan, who is one of the few South Africans who defined 2010, said the fruits were there for everyone to see?– from the awards the hosting of the event has generated to rave reviews.

Jordaan, who has been ranked by a number of international publications in the top 10 most powerful soccer administrators in the world, said it was a privilege to find himself counted among the 18 chief executives of the World Cup.

South Africa’s winning formula of the LOC – which for the first time included government ministers and business executives, as opposed to only football administrators – could be used in many other aspects, said Jordaan.

He added that he could not contain himself when on December 2, during Fifa’s announcement of the countries that would host the 2018 and 2022 events, all competing nations quoted South Africa in their presentations.

“I was sitting in the hall in Zurich when all the bidding nations presented their bids and each had a clip about South Africa’s World Cup in their ­presentations.”

South Africa faced many challenges from the failed bid for 2006 to the bid for 2010 and even after being awarded the host status on May 15 2004.

Concerns about whether the country could deliver on such a huge event were raised the moment the announcement was made.

“Leaders such as former president Thabo Mbeki, President Jacob Zuma and Kofi Annan (former UN secretary-general) had to deal with issues of Afro-pessimism wherever they went,” said Jordaan.

“I am glad that our successful hosting of the World Cup helped us dismiss perceptions of Afro-pessimism and turn them into Afro-optimism.”

South Africa’s World Cup also offered a number of firsts, such as the international concert at the Orlando Stadium on the eve of the opening ceremony, all 64 matches being broadcast in 3D and international fan parks in cities such as Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Mexico City (Mexico), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Sydney (Australia).

“I am proud to say that the LOC continues to be a role model on time management and sticking to time lines,” said Jordaan.

“We achieved goals such as finishing the King Shaka International Airport in Durban within 15 months and all the roads on time by close supervision, monitoring and intervention when needed.”

Jordaan believed that the LOC model could be used as a template to achieve high levels of service delivery.

This also showed that if we applied our mind properly, anything could be done, he reasoned, adding that credit should go to the entire nation for their single-mindedness in ensuring that this mammoth task was delivered. 

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