FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke was in South Africa to attend a meeting of the 2010 SALOC Board.
During his time there, Valcke sealed a partnership between FIFA and Telkom South Africa, who will be a National Supporter of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in the key category of fixed-line telecommunications.
The General Secretary took time out to FIFA.com to discuss a number of important issues relating to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
FIFA.com: This is your first trip to South Africa as General Secretary of FIFA, but you have of course been here many times before as FIFA Director of Marketing & TV. What it is like to be back? Jerome Valcke: It is always great to come to South Africa, I really love this country. Each time I come here I can feel the growing passion of the people here in anticipation of 2010. Africa has such a colourful culture and people and also such an extraordinary love for the game. For me, this is another important trip on our joint endeavour to stage the most successful FIFA World Cup ever.
*Is there any significance in you being in South Africa now? * As the General Secretary I represent FIFA at the 2010 SALOC Board meeting. It is a good tool to see how far we are with our preparations and to identify and tackle any possible challenges that may arise on the way to 2010. It is a great forum of mutual exchange which helps in making key decision to further develop the project.
*The FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter again strongly reiterated his confidence in South Africa's ability to stage a wonderful World Cup when he was in the country recently. What are your views as FIFA General Secretary on South Africa's state of readiness at the moment? * President Blatter has said many times that, for FIFA, Plan A is South Africa, Plan B is South Africa and Plan C is South Africa. He's even added that Plan D is South Africa! I don't know how many more times FIFA have to say that we are committed to South Africa, but it is most certainly my view as well that FIFA has the utmost confidence in South Africa.
Any World Cup has its challenges and in 2010 it will be no different. That's to be expected with such a major undertaking. But South Africa has made great progress in recent months. Construction of the stadiums are now underway and firm plans are being put in place by the South African government and the Local Organising Committee to ensure the event goes smoothly and that everything is in place starting with the Preliminary Draw this November up to 2010. And of course we at FIFA are working very closely with them in partnership to ensure that the event is a tremendous success that will live long in the memory and leave a lasting legacy on the African continent for many years to come.
However, it is important to note that South Africa is already in the focus of the world. Therefore the Preliminary Draw in Durban this November will be crucial for the international perception of South Africa's capability of organising the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The countdown has already begun.
*Germany 2006 was of course an extremely successful FIFA World Cup. What advice would you give South Africa as they stage Africa's first World Cup in 2010? * Yes, Germany was an extremely successful tournament. But it will be important that South Africa does not seek to emulate Germany, but rather that it stamps its own unique flavour on the event. The African continent has a rich football culture and of course a very dynamic vibrancy and spirit. It will be important that Africa's first World Cup celebrates that warmth and hospitality and showcase its arts, music and culture. It promises to be some event. I can hardly wait.
*What will be your main focus for the 2010 FIFA World Cup as FIFA General Secretary? * Hosting a successful event. And so far we are well on track to achieve this. Obviously it is important for us, and South Africa, that we leave a lasting legacy for the continent. And I think for us at FIFA, developing the game on the continent and using football to make people's lives better is important. Personally, it is for me a great honour to be part of something so significant.
I really believe in the people of this continent and I really believe in the power of football to make big changes in the world. I think we will be surprised at how big and how successful this one will be. At the same time South Africa embarks into a new era, with presidential elections taking place in 2009 and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and 2010 FIFA World Cup the perfect international stage for a new cycle in South Africa.
*It may be Africa's first FIFA World Cup, but today's sign up of Telkom as National Supporter underlines the enthusiastic support of the South African business community behind the event. Do you see this as a sign of confidence in South Africa's ability to stage a successful event? * It certainly is. The deal we finalised today with another South African company shows that it is not just FIFA who are confident in the 2010 hosts, but also that the South African business community believes in the immense impact that the event will have on the country. In total we have now three major South African companies on board who are all contributing significantly to the lasting legacy we want to leave in this country. MTN, who became the first African global FIFA World Cup sponsor and in so doing joined major international conglomerates like McDonalds and Anheuser Busch, have played a major role in the development of African football by sponsoring the MTN African Nations Cup and the MTN Champions League.
FNB and Telkom too continue to play a major role in South African football as well, showing their commitment not only to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but to the long-term longevity and development of the game as a whole. This shows the calibre of the South African sponsors who have come on board, which FIFA is delighted with. And we are not allowed to forget the faith and trust shown by the FIFA Partners, six major international companies namely adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai, Sony and Visa, for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. These global players promote and support the 2010 FIFA World Cup and South Africa worldwide through their international programmes. And I can assure you that they are as excited and committed as we are too at FIFA to work on this exciting event, the first staged on African soil.
*Recently there have been many statements in the media with regards to the trademark process and the media's right to use the Official FIFA World Cup marks such as the 2010 event logo. Could you clarify FIFA's position on this matter? * It is absolutely incorrect that FIFA is seeking to gain a monopoly on terms such as '2010' and 'World Cup', and that no one else could use these generic terms. FIFA's intention is and has always been simply to protect its commercial partners and their exclusive right to create a commercial/marketing association with the '2010 FIFA World Cup'.
I would like to use this occasion to emphasise that there are no restrictions for media to use the official marks of the 2010 FIFA World Cup for editorial purposes. Using the marks for commercial marketing purposes are another matter, as it is a right granted to our sponsors in return for their significant financial and value in kind support.
*Do you think there are opportunities for ordinary South Africans? * There are a wide range of opportunities for non-rights holders to benefit from this event without commercial marketing association with the event. Both FIFA and the Local Organising Committee are working closely with the governmental institutions, South African Tourism and the host cities so that there are opportunities created for South Africans to benefit from the FIFA World Cup being staged in their country.
Examples are the tremendous infrastructural investments (such as transportation and communication, to name a few in the country, which will significantly improve the long-term conditions of millions of South Africans. The tourism business that will be generated by 2010 also offers great business opportunities for South African companies, not to mention the impact that will be made by the global exposure of the country up to, during and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Where do people find the information about what they can and cannot do in relation to the 2010 FIFA World Cup? * We have tried to provide the public with an explanation of what is possible and what not in our 'Public Information Sheet' which we have presented during the Business Opportunity Conference in Johannesburg nearly two months ago. The guide on the use of the official marks for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is readily available on our official website - *FIFA.com.
*What advice would you give to someone who has never been to South Africa and is perhaps contemplating a trip to the 2010 FIFA World Cup? * I would say every person, if they're able to, must experience the African continent first-hand at least once in their lifetime. It's a truly moving experience. South Africa's beauty and scenery is well known and the beaches, wildlife and hundreds of tourist attractions are amazing. But it is really the warmth and hospitality of South Africans and all those on the African continent in general that leaves a lasting impression. It's a continent with so many challenges, yet the people are still so positive and welcoming.
Africa's first FIFA World Cup in 2010 will be a unique experience not to be missed and I would strongly advise every football fan in the world to come and be part of what will surely be an unforgettable FIFA World Cup like no other before.