No, I didn't conduct this interview. I only wish I did.
(If anyone has connections and can hook me up with Mr. Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the South African World Cup organizing committee, I'd be happy to do it.)
Alas, I'm but a poor blogger in New York. But one day, I promise.
This interview was conducted by Keir Radnedge for SportsFeatures.com.
I include it here as it's insightful, full of meat and provides a clear eye of where South Africa believes they are, one year before the world's biggest sporting event.
Take a look at it here or click the link above.
Q: What targets did you set yourselves at the outset?
DJ: We have two priorities. One is event success and one is onfield success. Onfield success is the responsibility of the national team and in countries which have hosted the World Cup and done well this has been a very positive experience – France winning in 1998, Germany and Korea reaching the last four in 2006 and 2002 and the English still talk about their win in 1966.
Q: After the Confederations Cup, where do you think you stand in terms of event success?
DJ: We are very happy from an organisational standpoint. We have achieved everything we set out to do so we will now have a full debrief and then we will start on preparing for the World Cup next year. As for the South African team we also saw a good performance, which is something we have not seen for a long time. There was structure, discipline and the ability to play with credibility against the best teams in the world. However the question of getting the ball in the net remains a challenge.
Scale of difficulty
Q: What will change at the World Cup compared with what has been on view at the Confederations Cup?
DJ: We are looking forward to the 2010 World Cup through the eyes of the Confederations Cup. We have to use the experience of the Confed Cup to understand the scale and complexity and difficulties ahead. In size the World Cup is a vastly different proposition.
Q: What are the positives for next year?
DJ: One factor concerns the stadia. For example, we have played the Confed Cup in existing stadia in Ellis Park (Johannesburg), Rustenburg, Bloemfontein and Pretoria. But people should know that these are our worst stadia – the six best, the new ones, are to come. They are spectacular. Also, the common use of of stadia will not be a complicating issue next year as it has been this year with the British Lions tour running parallel to the Confederations Cup.
Q: How will fans, next year, find the transport arrangements?
DJ: Transport, we know, is an issue. We introduced a park-and-ride system here to bring fans to the stadia and it had some teething problems with people arriving late at the games and then having to wait for a long time after matches. It was a new experience for South African fans but for the later games things were smoothed out.
This raises the issue of co-ordination with the host cities because local transport is their overall responsibility. We will have 1,000 extra buses and extra aircraft so we can move the fans who want to follow their team. We have signed contacts with bus suppliers and we know that is one area in which we have to focus.
Q: Are you still worried about African fans’ habit of turning up very late at a game, just before kickoff?
DJ: I’m happy to say that over the two weeks of the Confed Cup we saw a significant improvement in terms of the early arrival of fans. It’s all about behavioural change. But then, here at the Confederations Cup around 90 per cent of the fans have been South African. The World Cup is different. The vast majority of the fans will be foreign and the late flow of fans into a ground will not be an issue then.
Q: Is there a concern that some of the new stadia will turn out to be “white elephants”?
DJ: This stadia issue is a long debate. South Africa wants to bring back the Rugby World Cup and, in the case of Cape Town, matches would be staged in the new stadium and not Newlands because the infrastructure in these old stadia are no longer up to the standard needed to host major international matches any more.
A stadium normally has a lifecycle of between 30 and 70 years but, beyond a certain point, it is false investment to continue upgrading. Once the commercial partners who buy naming rights go to the new stadium it is very difficult for anyone to stay in the old stadium because it’s about revenue generation.
Look at what happened with Wembley in England. The debate lasted years with clashes between realists and the traditionalists who had wanted to keep the old, twin towers. The same thing will happen in South Africa but, ultimately, people will realise, as with Wembley, that the old stadium does not suffice any more. Then it will be clear to everyone that the old stadia may be rich with history and tradition but they don’t meet international requirements.
Q: Security is a major concern for foreign officials and fans because of South Africa’s domestic crime rate. What is being to allay people’s fears?
DJ: We have invested huge sums of money in security through both the South African Police Service and stewarding at the stadia. In the outer perimeter around a stadium security is the responsibility of police but inside the inner perimeter you have private security security and inside the stadia the stewards. You cannot turn a policeman into a steward and these thing are well defined.
We also have a VIP protection force for people such as FIFA president Sepp Blatter. This country has hosted 146 international events so it’s not for first time we’ve faced this challenge and I can say we have never had a major incident.
Q: Will all the tickets be sold?
DJ: Yes, of course. This is the World Cup, the most popular sports events on the planet. Already all the tickets which have gone on sale have been oversubscribed many, many times over.
Q: What reaction have you had from the teams who came here for the Confed Cup?
DJ: Overwhelmingly we have had positive feedback from the teams, the media, the broadcasters, commercial partners and from our own fans? I think this event been a revelation in terms of the interest but we are not going to waste time celebrating the pluses: we are going to study the debrief and then knuckle down to ensure we deliver the sort of World Cup we want - the first World Cup in Africa, the one which Sepp Blatter and Nelson Mandela had in their heads and have brought to reality.