Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chief of 2010 World Cup Believes in South Africa

Interesting piece by Reuters' Mike Collett about Danny Jordaan, the man leading the South African charge towards 2010.

Jordaan's had to face a lot of challenges as the chief organizer of the 2010 World Cup. From work stoppages at stadium sites to incessant questions about his country's preparedness for the tournament, Jordaan has handled all inquiries with class and style. He strongly believes that South Africa is ready to host the games and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Have a read at Mr. Collett's recent article about the man behind the 2010 World Cup.

Danny Jordaan is a man with a raft of problems but he shows no sign of panic or fear.

As the driving force of South Africa's preparations for the 2010 World Cup, Jordaan has much to contend with.

"It is absolutely inevitable that if you are putting on a World Cup then there are going to be problems, big problems in some cases, but it's how you deal with them that matters -- not that you have them," he said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday. "Of course there are things we worry about but we are not worried that we cannot solve them, that is the key issue."

Jordaan, 56, is the chief executive officer of South Africa's World Cup organising committee and has just passed a significant milestone on the long road he has been traveling to ensure the finals will be played in his country.

Sunday's draw in Durban for the preliminary tournament, a glitzy 90-minute affair staged in Durban, went off with barely a hitch.

As the finals inch closer, Jordaan admits his main concern is the stadium rebuilding programme. While he is convinced that every seat in every stadium will be in place in time for the kickoff on June 11, 2010, there are still hurdles to overcome.
"We will not sleep peacefully until the day the stadiums are all finished," the former member of parliament and anti-apartheid activist said.

"Stadium building programmes have become such a major news item. People read about it day to day. In the past, people decided to build a stadium and they built it, simple as that. But now the media seem to focus on every nut and bolt as it goes in.

"I understand why and while it puts us under enormous pressure, a lot of pressure from the media...we are comfortable with it."


He is not so comfortable, though, with the idea that striking construction workers could hinder plans to get the stadiums finished on time.

"We will never call on the workers not to strike or condemn them because the right to strike is a part of the culture of our democratic society but the stadium building plan is also a national priority.

"The workers may have conflicting interests but our interests are that the stadiums must be finished on time.

"This is a national priority. We must resolve these matters in a way that all of our interests are taken into account."

Another issue close to Jordaan's heart is making the World Cup accessible to some of South Africa's poorest citizens by introducing a cheap category of ticket costing $20 for the opening-round matches and making 120,000 of around three million tickets free to residents.

He has also pledged that some of the World Cup finalists will stage some of their training sessions in townships and poorer areas, so those who cannot get to matches will have a chance to feel a part of the World Cup.

"Perhaps they will not train there every day and of course some training sessions are closed. But we have stadiums suitable for World Cup training. We want to make the World Cup as open as possible to as many people as possible."

Sounds like a good plan. So far, so good Mr. Jordaan.

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