“It is the day after Match 64 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was played for the first time on the African continent and specifically South Africa. I have to give a big compliment to South Africa, its people and its government, the latter especially for giving the guarantees needed to stage the FIFA World Cup and for meeting them. I have to thank the LOC, especially Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan, as well as all of its workers, volunteers, security staff, hospitality workers. They were great.
I also have to pay a big compliment to Africa. They proved that they could organise the FIFA World Cup and a massive competition. I said at the beginning of this competition that this was a question of trust. FIFA trusted South Africa and from this trust, people gained confidence and South Africans can be proud of what they have achieved. FIFA are satisified and as FIFA President I am more than satisfied. I am also satisfied that in Spain we had a winner who played good football.
I can only underline the comments made by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma yesterday, who said that this World Cup brought people together in a sense of unity and pride.
As a fan and a spectator, I thought we saw some good matches and some not so good matches, but it was always entertaining. We have to remember that in terms of football, perfection does not exist. But what we did learn from this World Cup was that there are no more small national teams. Football has developed everywhere and we’ve learned that internationalism has been good for some national teams and not so good for others. It was also good to see that three of the youngest teams: Ghana, Germany and Spain doing so well – it shows that our young players are making headway.
After the Confederations Cup, I gave South Africa a 7.5 out of 10, but now – after a successful Final Draw and this tournament – I would give a 9, which in a University would earn the highest honours.
Overall we saw an improvement in terms of Fair Play at this tournament, but the Final caused this level to drop slightly. The referee and his trio had a very hard task during this game and he was not helped. I always say that football is a school of life, based on discipline and respect. You learn to win, which is easy, but when you lose – you must lose with discipline and respect.
This World Cup had a special momentum, linked with a history of freedom and the history of one man. This man is still living, at the age of 92 and this is a man who has suffered so much. But despite this, upon his release from prison, he spoke of peace and understanding. I met him for the first time in 1992 and he had a dream – to bring the World Cup to his country. The dream came true in May 2004 when South Africa were awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He brought the World Cup to South Africa. He wanted to attend the tournament – and last night he fulfilled that ambition. So, I must pay a homage to the greatest living humanist – Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela.”