Soccer

SA receive glowing SWC report

2010-09-23 19:48
Jerome Valcke (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a great success and has set a benchmark that future World Cups will be judged by, FIFA said on Thursday.

The financial benefit for South African football is still to be revealed, however, as world football's ruling body said its audit of the latest edition of the game's biggest tournament was ongoing and was expected to be completed at the end of October.

Following Thursday's final board meeting of the organising committee in Johannesburg, a little over two months after Spain beat Netherlands in the same city in the July 11 final, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke gave Africa's first World Cup a glowing report.

He said future tournaments would be measured against South Africa's.

"Hosting the event in South Africa proved to be a huge success," Valcke said as organizers were united for one last time. "I think that we can say that South Africa brought a new benchmark in terms of the World Cup. That's what we will have to achieve with 2014 and the World Cup in Brazil.

"During the 31 days (of the World Cup) there was not a single day when we had a big problem, where we had a crisis. For FIFA it was a unique experience and we will use this experience for 2014 and all the World Cups we have in the future."

For the tournament's chief local organiser, Danny Jordaan, the biggest achievement for the month-long event was that it changed the widely held view that South Africa was unsafe.

"At the end I think the police walked away with great credit for the efficient and safe environment that they created," said Jordaan. "The police took off this monkey that we had on our back about this country is not safe."

Jordaan added it was "a remarkable achievement" after organizers had battled with the country's reputation for violent crime for much of the buildup.

Final figures for the money earned by the local organizing committee, to be set aside for the development of South African football, will be announced in early November by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the country's president Jacob Zuma.

South Africa is already benefiting from the tournament's legacy, according to Jordaan.

He said the new stadiums, built at great cost, would boost the country's sporting profile, not just its football profile, and not turn into the white elephants that were feared.

"I think this country is in a strong position," he said. "It has made the investment. You don't build stadiums every day, you build them once in 50 or 70 years and over 50 to 70 years this country has the ambition to make bids for other events which, of course, we will do."

Jordaan pointed to a likely Durban bid for the 2020 Olympics. The city's Moses Mabhida Stadium, built for the World Cup, was also designed to be an athletics venue. The 94 000-seat Soccer City stadium, venue for the World Cup final, has already been used for rugby.

Jordaan, who led South Africa's organizing committee from the time the country was awarded the event in 2004, summed up the event: "For 31 days South Africa was on the front page and the back page all over the world and it was an incredible story."

He said he realized the World Cup's worldwide success when he was greeted at a meeting at the White House by an American politician wearing a makarapa - a carved and painted hat worn by South African football fans and made famous, along with the vuvuzela, at the 2010 World Cup.

"I have just been all over the world and whether it was 10 Downing Street or the White House or the Kremlin... the first line was 'this was the best World Cup ever,"' Jordaan said.

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