Cup atmosphere 'inspirational'

2010-06-17 19:27
Cape Town – It is an inspiration to see how the World Cup has brought South Africans together, and the atmosphere is "incredible", London Mayor Boris Johnson said in Cape Town on Thursday.

"It has been amazing to go around Cape Town and look at the way this World Cup is bringing this city and this country together," he said.

"The atmosphere is quite incredible and is an inspiration for us because it is what we want to do in 2018 in London... "

Johnson, with his dress sense matching his eccentric hairstyle, arrived in South Africa on Wednesday on a goodwill visit to football club Ajax Cape Town, accompanied by former Leeds United and South African soccer player Lucas Radebe, and former England international soccer player Andy Cole.

The trip was part of England's 2018 World Cup bid.

Radebe and Cole are England's 2018 ambassadors for the World Cup.

Huge multi-cultural metropolis

"If you have football in London 2018, if you have football in a great world city, then perhaps you will have a little bit of the atmosphere that you've got in Cape Town, because London is a huge multi-cultural metropolis, and there's nowhere like it on earth," he told a press briefing.

"We bring more nations, more languages together than any other city on Earth and you will have that atmosphere of the world coming together in a great world city, but also you will generate a revenue for football across the world to support the expansion and participation in football in kids around the world."

Ajax Cape Town spokesperson Shooz Mekuto said the club had set up a programme to teach children life skills through soccer, with help from London-based football club Charlton Athletic.

The programme had already reached 25 000 children and 120 schools since it started in 2007.

Seventy-five youth players from the programme had made it into professional soccer teams, said Mekuto.

Johnson called it an "incredible thing" and said he fully supported the programme.

"I believe strongly in the power of football to change people’s lives."

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