Dr Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, today paid tribute to Nelson Mandela and the role he played in securing the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

Mandela was part of the delegation that presented South Africa’s bid to the FIFA Executive in 2004 and was present on May 15 2004 when FIFA President, Dr Joseph S Blatter, announced that South Africa had won the bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“Who will ever forget the images of him grasping the FIFA World Cup Trophy as they were beamed around the world? It is thanks to Mandela and his comrades that we as South Africans could even dare to dream about hosting the world’s biggest tournament. It is also thanks to him that the world could finally trust us to deliver this event at a worldclass level,” Jordaan said.

Twenty years after Mandela’s release on 11 February 1990, a day which will remain one of the most important in South Africa’s history, the world prepares to celebrate with the country once again.

“Come 11 June thousands more South Africans and our friends from all over the world will be cheering. They will be celebrating the opening of the world’s biggest sporting spectacle and the arrival of the world’s best footballers. And they will do so on the exact spot where tens of thousands of South Africans celebrated Mandela’s freedom in the first mass rally after his release – Soccer City,” said Jordaan.

He thanked Mandela for lending his support to the successful bid. “He gave us a momentum and self belief that we could achieve what many thought was impossible and we, and this country will be forever grateful for that.”