Khoza: SWC my lasting memory
Johannesburg – South Africans had plenty to be proud of after the country staged one of the most successful World Cup tournaments in history, 2010 organising committee chairperson Irvin Khoza said on Monday.
Everything had gone according to plan, he told a World Cup wrap-up press conference in Sandton, Johannesburg.
The spirit of unity among all South Africans during the month-long event, that ended at Soccer City on Sunday night, when Spain defeated Holland 1-0 before a capacity crowd, was the highlight of the four-week tournament.
“Never before have I seen so many South Africans of all colours united as country watching not just Bafana Bafana, but the event. This is my lasting memory.”
The opening ceremony, followed by Bafana’s 1-1 draw in the opening match against Mexico, was emotional and would stay in his memory forever.
But Khoza, OC CEO Danny Jordaan and FIFA president Sepp Blatter all said the outstanding moment of the tournament was former president Nelson Mandela's being driven onto the pitch at the final to a rapturous roar from the capacity crowd.
In paying homage to Mandela, who turns 92 next week, Blatter said: “It was Madiba’s dream to see the World Cup final in South Africa.
"That dream has now come true. It was done in honour of this great man who has done so much for his country since he was released from jail in 1992.
"It was Madiba who brought the World Cup to Africa and South Africa and I was delighted when he was able to attend the final. It was a fitting climax to the World Cup.”
Blatter ducked a question on why a section of the crowd at the final booed him when he took the pitch before the game.
“I was not aware of that,” he said.
Blatter also evaded questions on the performance of World Cup final referee Howard Webb, who booked 14 players and sent off Holland’s John Heitinga during extra time.
Humans make mistakes
“It is not my job to assess the referee or his assistants. We are all human and can all make mistakes. It is not up to me to judge the referee.”
Meanwhile the FIFA World Cup road show transfers to Brazil shortly where the 2014 event will be staged.
But like South Africa, Brazil’s ability to host the biggest sporting event in the world will come under close scrutiny from the world media.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke admitted there were challenges ahead.
“There are problems to be solved in Brazil such as building new stadiums, airports, roads and stetting up a communication system. But we are looking forward to the next four years.”
A total of 13 642 journalists were accredited for the 2010 World Cup.