FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter today (17 September) completed his four day visit to South Africa with an encouraging assessment of the preparations of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. "I am very pleased with what I have seen over the last few days, in particular in the stadiums. The progress being made is good. With all the guarantees and assurances given by the political authorities, I am convinced that, together, we will bring the FIFA World Cup to a great success," said Blatter who praised the warm welcome and strong support demonstrated by political and sports authorities, the Local Organising Committee (SALOC) and in particular the South African people with their spontaneous cheers. His satisfaction stemmed from what he had witnessed in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Joseph S. Blatter was accompanied by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke as well as by FIFA Goodwill Ambassador Tokyo Sexwale on his visit.
At a well-attended press conference at Ellis Park stadium (Johannesburg) today, the FIFA President also appealed to the South Africans to more strongly promote their World Cup within and outside South Africa. "The FIFA World Cup will be good for the credibility of this great country. South Africa will be an even prouder nation after having hosted this competition."
In various meetings with political and sports authorities during the last four days, the FIFA President met the President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, the Board of Directors of the Local Organising Committee (SALOC) chaired by Irvin Khoza and comprising, among others, South African Football Association President Molefi Oliphant and SALOC CEO Danny Jordaan. Additional meetings were held with former Presidents of the Republic of South Africa and joint-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela and Frederick W. de Klerk, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Amos Masondo, the Premier of the Western Cape Province, Lynne Brown, and the Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille. The FIFA President also paid a courtesy visit to ANC President Jacob Zuma.
Mr Mandela, who received a specifically manufactured replica of the FIFA World Cup Trophy from the FIFA President, said during the meeting: "It was my desire to meet you and I am happy that we managed it. Thank you for this very special gift."
In the SALOC Board meeting on Tuesday (16 September), the FIFA President and the FIFA Secretary General heard the latest information on key logistical issues such as stadiums, transportation and accommodation. "The Host Cities and the Local Organising Committee are fully committed to making the 2010 FIFA World Cup a resounding success. There is much work to do, but we are working together to find the necessary solutions to put on two world-class events starting with next year's FIFA Confederations Cup, featuring top teams such as Brazil, Italy and Spain. The 2010 FIFA World Cup is a legacy, not only for South Africa but also for the entire African continent," says Valcke.
At the SALOC Board meeting, South Africa's Foreign Affairs Minister Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma thanked Mr Blatter for being a champion and passionate supporter who has ensured that Africa is not a forgotten continent and is a major part of the international community: "We promise you that we will do our best. We will not fail you and we will not fail our continent. We are moving forward and I am confident the World Cup will be unique and will show the beauty, vibrancy, culture and nature of the people of our continent."
"When the FIFA President was in South Africa in June last year he told us he wanted to see more picks and shovels at our World Cup stadiums. Now, when he has returned he has seen stadium roofs being erected and seats being installed." said SALOC CEO Danny Jordaan.