Joint Media Release of FIFA and the Government of the Republic of South Africa
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter today (Sunday, 14 September) kicked-off his four-day visit to South Africa with an audience with the President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria.
The talks between Mr Blatter, and Mr Mbeki were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere and were centred on the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and the ongoing preparations for FIFA's flagship competition and next year's FIFA Confederations Cup. The FIFA President was accompanied by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, as well the SALOC CEO Danny Jordaan. The South African government delegation included Minister in the office of the President Essop Pahad.
At the ensuing media briefing FIFA President Blatter acknowledged the significant contributions and support of President Mbeki and his government since their nation was awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup in May 2004. "My primary goal of my visit is to reassure the entire country of FIFA's 100% commitment, confidence and trust in this big and proud country to organise the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This event is South Africa's biggest chance show that as a united nation they can bring the 2010 FIFA World Cup to life", said Blatter, who also personally thanked President Mbeki and his government for their tremendous support, saying that without such a commitment, it would not be possible to stage a successful FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 and FIFA World Cup in 2010.
The FIFA President said that he had been so invigorated upon touching down on South African soil on Sunday, that he "danced and danced"and felt "full of life" as he arrived at the airport in Johannesburg for the start of his four-day visit. "I will also have the privilege again to meet the monument of South Africa Nelson Mandela, who was so instrumental in bringing this World Cup to South Africa. I will have the pleasure to offer him a small replica of the FIFA World Cup Trophy that brought tears to his eyes back on 15 May 2004 when South Africa was awarded the right to host the first African World Cup."
"It is ordinary South Africans and Africans that are making the World Cup a reality. All of us - construction workers, engineers, educators, volunteers, business people, government officials - are transforming our country and continent as we prepare to host the world in 2010 and we are on course to meet all FIFA's commitments ", said Mbeki, who added: "The government is totally committed to meet FIFA requirements and deliver an inspirational event. Together with the Organising Committee and the private sector the government is and will continue working to deliver an inspirational World Cup and leave a legacy for our country and the continent of Africa."
President Mbeki further underlined the tangible beneficial effects of the 2010 FIFA World Cup such as the upgraded communications infrastructure allowing more South Africans access to information, the improvement of emergency medical services, with new ambulances and helicopters that can reach people in remote areas. Mbeki also emphasised that the event will leave the country with a state of the art safety and security technology and a better trained police force. "South Africa will be ready! We are using this event to make things better in our society."