The growing stature and success of African football took centre stage this past week as the Africa Cup of Nations reached its crescendo in Luanda on Sunday. And according to many of the football administrators present for the tournament, this was just a taste of things to come in 2010.
Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC), Dr Danny Jordaan, summed up the mood in Angola when he told officials gathered at the 32nd CAF Congress that Africa is not a charity but has the right to host the FIFA World Cup and any other major football competitions.
“Last year the FIFA Under 17 World Cup, the FIFA Under 20 World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup were all hosted successfully on the African continent. As we go towards this World Cup we must defend our right to host this event on the basis that as members of FIFA we are all equal, and not as a charity, but as a right.”
The media and football administrators discussed football development on the continent, preparation for the FIFA World Cup, just over 130 days away, and other football events on the African continent in 2009.
As the world continues to focus on Africa and its role in world football, Jordaan took the opportunity to congratulate Egypt and Nigeria for hosting successful tournaments last year.
“It does not matter whether you have the economy the size of the USA or of Uganda or whether you have a population the size of China or Chad, as members of FIFA we are all equal. “
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter said it was time for the world to stop doubting Africa’s capabilities.
“Why do people still doubt Africa? We have been working with Africa for years and now we have brought the World Cup to Africa which has given so much to football. I think it is only fair that the World Cup comes to South Africa. So let us trust the organisers.”
Issa Hayatou, president of CAF and head of FIFA’S World Cup Organising Committee said he was confident that Africa’s first World Cup would be a success.
“Journalists, fans and the teams must have trust and confidence in the organisation of this tournament. All the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that this World Cup is a success.
2010 FIFA World Cup ambassador, Roger Milla, who spoke to the congress via a pre-recorded video message, once again reiterated his joy at the World Cup being hosted in Africa for the first time.
“The World Cup is an historic event and we are particularly proud not only of South Africa but of the African continent as a whole. As the days go by we that Africa is going forward and that Africa is an important part of FIFA and is part of the power of football to generate hope. I hope this will continue,” he said.