At a media conference held 48 hours before the kick-off of the FIFA Confederations Cup, the FIFA President complemented everyone involved in the tournament's organisation.
At the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, together with Chairman of the FIFA Organising Committee of the FIFA Confederations Cup, Issa Hayatou, FIFA Secretary General, Jérôme Valcke, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (OC), Irvin Khoza and CEO of the Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan held a press conference in front of 100 members of the global media.
The mood of the speakers and of South Africa in general was perhaps best illustrated by the FIFA President when he said: "Although we're in wintertime in South Africa, the fever for the tournament is over 37 degrees and the football virus is spreading in terms of the interest, anticipation and excitement for the FIFA World Cup. Now I hope that in the next days will affect the FIFA Confederations Cup."
A number of topics were highlighted, including South Africa's readiness for the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup, security, and even the proposed transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter
On the state of the facilities in South Africa
We are happy in what has been realised and what will be realised by the end of this year. One stadium has been opened already in Nelson Mandela Bay and the four stadiums that will be used for the FIFA Confederations Cup are in top condition. I must complement the organisers: our credit to them is great, the confidence in them is there. This is more than a rehearsal for the FIFA World Cup; looking at the participating teams, this is a high-quality football competition and we are proud that we will stage such a competition in South Africa.
On trusting South Africa
If we hadn't have taken the decision to adopt the rotation system for the FIFA World Cup, we would not be on the African continent. And since FIFA announced that South Africa would host the FIFA World Cup, a part of the media has not been at ease in trusting South Africa to organise it. There are 40 million people here, every year over ten million tourists come to South Africa. They have organised sporting competitions, international conferences and FIFA are organising competitions all over the world; so why is there a question mark over football? Maybe there is a little bit of envy. Let's trust South Africa and its people.
Security is a matter for the government and the state. There is no authority in any football organisation to have a police force. However, there must be a good co-ordination between football and the authorities. This has been done and has been confirmed by Jacob Zuma on the day of his election. He told us that we can rely on South Africa's new government on all aspects of security. Nowadays, problems do not arise in the stadium, but outside of the stadium.
On bringing the FIFA World Cup to Africa
This is an African legacy, not my legacy. As the President of FIFA, my legacy is that football will become the social-cultural movement in our society and this game, which touches the world, can build a better future, a better understanding and integration between societies. The game should be for the world - and especially our youth.
On Cristiano Ronaldo's proposed transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid
We are in a sensitive market nowadays, because of the economic crisis. If we have a good market in football, it means we have a good product. But it is not only a product to sell or to buy, it gives people what they want; and that is emotions and entertainment. Football is the game of the people - and they need stars. More than ten years ago there was a transfer involving two Spanish clubs and that was $50m USD. So, what is £80m now? It means that there is still a demand to have stars.
At the same time as Ronaldo's transfer ten years ago, there was a Picasso painting sold at Sotherby's in London for over £100m and what happened to it? They put it somewhere where no-one could see it or on display at a museum for a short period, but with a football player, you can see him once or twice a week. It's not the money the star is getting; it's the money between the clubs. So, although you can say it's too much, you have to put it into context of what football is worth to our society.
I heard yesterday that you could buy millions of pieces of bread to give to the people for that amount, but entertainment is also food for the people.
Chairman of the FIFA Organising Committee of the FIFA Confederations Cup, Issa Hayatou
We've just come from a meeting of the Organising Committee and we are satisfied with what we have seen. We have touched upon all the elements: security, safety, organisation, movement of the fans and I can say, without being triumphant, that things will be organised well and under good conditions.
Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (OC), Irvin Khoza
On his emotions
Today is a great day for all of us in Africa. After five years of hard work, the centre of the footballing world is here. All the ingredients to host a successful Confederations Cup are in place. I think you won't be disappointed.
On Nelson Mandela's potential appearance at the Opening Match
An invitation has been extended to our icon [Nelson Mandela] and also our former President, Thabo Mbeki. We are also expecting the president of our country and deputy president to be there. It's a question of wait and see.
CEO of the Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan
I think there are two measures of success. There is event success in terms of organisational matters and then on-field success. Obviously, on-field success is the responsibility of the national team. However, it's very clear that in countries that have hosted the World Cup, a successful team entrenches a very positive memory in the minds of the public. That's why it's very important that the Confederations Cup is successful for our own team and we'll see whether the potential of our own team will be turned into a reality. But there is a myth in the world that South Africa is a rugby and cricket country, but in the next few days you will see that by far the overwhelming and most popular sport in the country is football.