With the last remaining teams having now secured their spot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and with Cape Town feverously preparing to host the Final Draw show on 4 December, the 200 day countdown is certainly a significant one.
For the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC), Dr Danny Jordaan, the 200 day mark is a time to reflect on the hard work done.
“The stadiums that were once just architectural plans, artists impressions and piles of dirt have risen from the ground to now become world class sporting facilities, some of which are already hosting international football matches,”said Jordaan, referring to the match between Japan and South Africa at Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth last week.
“The airports that will service most of the 450,000 expected foreign visitors during the World Cup are currently being upgraded, with many of them now nearing completion. The roads are being worked on extensively, and although they might be an inconvenience at the moment, the end result will be a far easier flow of traffic for 2010 and beyond,” continued Jordaan as he described the progress of preparations for 2010.
For the man at the helm of the OC the 200 day mark, and the fact that the 32 teams are now qualified for 2010, is a significant moment that requires a change in how we see the build up to the World Cup.
“The storyline is now changing. The stadiums will be ready, we can see this. The World Cup is about the teams, the coaches and the fans now. This storyline has changed from the concrete of the stadiums and the roads to the people and the emotion of the World Cup.”
“With 200 days until the party starts the world will begin to focus on the football – no longer do you hear talk of ‘plan-B’ or that the stadiums won’t be ready. Over the last few months the focus has been on the qualifiers and who will make it to South Africa 2010. And from now on the focus will be on the team’s preparations for the tournament,” said Jordaan.
Referring to the recent flag raising ceremony at SAFA House, in which representatives from all 32 qualified nations raised their country’s flag, Jordaan talked about the significance of the ceremony.
“If you drive past SAFA House today you will see 32 flags along the borders of Soccer City stadium. These flags represent the teams, the hundreds-and-thousands of fans and the hopes of nations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup next year. This is a sign to us that the World Cup is no longer about getting the stadiums ready, it is celebrating with people from around the world next year.”