A warm exchange of letters between FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Jacob Zuma, the President of the Republic of South Africa, has seen both reaffirm their commitment to the FIFA World Cup™ leaving a lasting social legacy.
In the letters, both addressed to “a dear Friend and Brother”, the respective leaders stressed the importance of maintaining the momentum established by a hugely successful tournament and subsequently continued by the first-ever FIFA World Cup Education Summit in Pretoria on 11 July.
Blatter, for his part, expressed a belief that the FIFA World Cup would “provide a trigger for long-term and sustained social, cultural and educational development”, while Zuma focused on their shared passion for the 1 Goal Education for All Campaign.
“As we know,” he wrote, “the success of this campaign will assist approximately 72 million children, almost half of whom are in Africa, who are not attending school. That would be a powerful legacy of the World Cup.”
There is a very real sense that the World Cup brought South Africans together. This is a matter that extends far beyond the outward manifestations of national pride.
The South African President also made a point of thanking Blatter for “his sterling support” before and during the FIFA World Cup, adding that “your confidence in us and in Africa has made it possible for us to prove Afro-pessimists wrong”.
Reflecting with pride on the tournament’s positive impact on international perceptions about South Africa and the country’s economic growth rate, Zuma also highlighted the FIFA World Cup’s success in an area more difficult to quantify, but every bit as important.
He wrote: “Though it cannot be measured, there is a very real sense that the World Cup brought South Africans together. This is a matter that extends far beyond the outward manifestations of national pride. It is clear that South Africans of all races feel a greater sense of common nationhood.”
While Zuma was anxious to acknowledge the benefits the tournament has brought, Blatter was equally keen to praise South Africa and its people for making the Mother Continent’s first-ever FIFA World Cup such an unforgettable spectacle. As the FIFA President, who lauded the nation’s “incredible hospitality, the likes of which we have scarcely seen before”, wrote, this was “a unique, fantastic and successful World Cup in all of its many facets.”