Wednesday, May 9, 2007
2010 World Cup head honcho Danny Jordaan let it be known that South Africa is ready to host the world's biggest sporting event.
Criticism has been rampant (take a look at this previous post) from FIFA, the press and fans regarding the nation's ability to host the games.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter went as far as to make public contingency plans should South Africa fail in its attempts to upgarde its stadiums, transportation systems and security.
Adressing reporters at the Soccerex business and football conference at Wembley Stadium in England today, Mr. Jordaan let it be known that they were ready.
Regarding Blatter's comments, Jordaan said, 'It is because of Sepp Blatter that we are hosting the World Cup. Without him bringing in a rotation policy it would have been very hard for us. He said that Plan A is South Africa, Plan B is South Africa and Plan C is South Africa....he just stated that in case of a natural disaster they would look elsewhere but our country has no history of natural disasters so they won't need to.' (Sounds nice, warm and fuzzy but anyone else get the feeling FIFA regrets this rotation system?)
Jordaan said work on five new stadiums had started, including the 68,000-seat Green Point stadium in Cape Town that was delayed.
The other new stadia are in Port Elisabeth, Durban, Polokwane and Nelspruit while five existing stadia are being upgraded, including the FNB and Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Jordaan pointed to the huge financial backing for the tournament as further proof that confidence was high in South Africa successfully hosting Africa's first World Cup finals.
'FIFA has already generated for the World Cup in South Africa the highest revenue ever, $3.2 billion. It's the highest in the history of the World Cup,' he said.
'South African companies have also committed $100 million to the event...it's higher than what local companies committed in 2002 in South Korea and Japan.
'If major multi-nationals and South African companies are investing in the World Cup surely they have done their homework. The notion that we must consider something else does not make sense.' He has a point. But wouldn't local companies support this event no matter what?
Jordaan believes most of the scepticism is coming from people who have never been to South Africa. (Very true.)
"The issue is consistently arising since we won the vote in 2004...it's based on the views of people who have never been to our country," he said.
"If I have never seen Chelsea play I cannot be in a position to express a view on whether they are good or bad.' (Oh come on, we all know they stink! Just kidding!)
"We want this event to be a huge success. we owe that to our former president Nelson Mandela who spent a huge amount of energy pursuing this dream, we owe it to archbishop Desmond Tutu, we owe it President Thabo Mbeki and we owe it to so many South Africans. It's not something we are flippant about."
He's passionate and on-point with most of his comments. It's great that South Africa has someone like Jordaan in their corner. His confidence and demeanor will instill pride to the nation preparing for this major event.
I have no doubts. I wish FIFA didn't.