Members of South Africa's building trade unions handed FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter a memorandum at the Home of FIFA in Zurich today - Tuesday, 11 March 2008. The trade unionists expressed their appreciation of FIFA's show of solidarity towards them, encouraging them to continue their efforts to ensure that equitable working conditions were in force while the infrastructure for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa was being built.
The FIFA President expressed concern that the builders and other workers involved in constructing the World Cup projects were all treated fairly. "Although FIFA is not the employer or the builder responsible for constructing the stadiums, it is well aware of its social responsibility in connection with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and is also keeping an eye on it," explained Blatter, who has visited several stadiums in South Africa to see the situation there for himself.
The trade unionists themselves had asked to pay a visit to the Home of FIFA. Paul Rechsteiner, President of the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions, and Vasco Pedrina, National Secretary of the Unia Trade Union and Vice-President of the International Building and Timber Federation, accompanied Crosby Moni, Vice-President of South Africa's biggest 280,000-strong builders' union, as well as other trade unionists to the meeting. They thanked FIFA for its willingness to open its doors and lend an ear to their concerns, not only at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich but also through the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa. At the meeting, Moni presented the "Fair Games - Fair Play: humane working conditions" campaign. "The workers, especially those labouring on the construction sites, need a wage that will enable them to live, enjoy a safe and healthy workplace and social benefits as well. We have no doubt that FIFA can help significantly to reach this goal."
Various matters concerning the building and infrastructure of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa in addition to FIFA's role were discussed at the one-hour meeting. Fortunately, no fatal accidents have occurred to date during the building of the World Cup stadiums. Blatter explained the world governing body's aims at the meeting. "We sent a signal of hope and trust in the abilities of South Africa and the entire African continent when we awarded the 2010 World Cup," he stated. "The FIFA World Cup is intended to have an enduring and positive effect on the economy and generate social change."
Through its Win in Africa with Africa initiative, FIFA is using its flagship competition and football specifically as a vehicle towards achieving development goals. Several projects in which artificial pitches are being laid in every African country and African executives trained at various African universities are already well underway. Small, medium and microtourism companies are, for instance, deliberately being targeted in South Africa, as is know-how and technology interaction. All these endeavours are being supplemented with a variety of humanitarian projects organised by FIFA as part of its Football for Hope initiative. More information on FIFA's various initiatives is available under the FIFA World Cup section on the official website, www.FIFA.com.