The grey skies and light rain over Cape Town did little to dampen the enthusiasm of some 2,000 workers, who sang and danced as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter came to visit them on Monday. On his second day of a four-day trip to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ host nation, Blatter visited the construction site of the Green Point Stadium, one of the ten venues for the finals in two years' time.
"It was a very emotive moment," said Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille, one of several local leaders who accompanied Blatter on a brief tour. The FIFA President exchanged greetings with the enthusiastic workers, shaking hands and then tapping his foot as the workers burst into song. "I was so happy to hear the determination of this wonderful country," he said minutes after the tour.
Blatter, who will also visit two more stadiums in Johannesburg on Tuesday and Wednesday, said he had travelled to South Africa to "appreciate what you are doing here in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup".
President meets the Presidents
His trip includes meetings with all the country's major political figures, starting on Sunday night when he had a private meeting with President Thabo Mbeki. On Monday, he was accompanied by former president FW de Klerk, who told Blatter: "I wish to assure you the whole of South Africa is behind making a big success of hosting the 2010 event." The former Nobel Peace Prize winner said South Africans wanted the 2010 finals to recapture the spirit of 1994, when a new democratic South Africa was born.
On Tuesday, Blatter is to present a small replica of the FIFA World Cup to another former president, Nelson Mandela, who shared the Nobel Prize with De Klerk. "For me that will be the highlight of the visit," said the FIFA President. "I remember the words of Mandela, on 15 May 2004 when the decision was made to give South Africa the FIFA World Cup, that he had now achieved what he had set out to do and could now look forward to the future in peace."
On Wednesday, Blatter is to also hold talks with Jacob Zuma, president of the African National Congress, the country's ruling political party.
Mayor Zille invited the FIFA president to return when the roof of the new Cape Town stadium was fixed into place in the coming months. "It will be the biggest roof-wetting party ever," she said.