2010 should change perceptions - Motlanthe

Friday, February 6, 2009

Parliament - The 2010 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in South Africa should be used as a catalyst to shift perceptions about the country and the rest of the African continent, says President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Delivering his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Friday, the President said the world cup should be used as a platform to showcase South Africa to the world and to change the perceptions of the country.

"The true legacy of this spectacle will be in our ability to showcase South African and African hospitality and humanity - to change once and for all perceptions of our country and our continent among the peoples of the world."

He further encouraged South Africans to join in and help showcase South Africa as the rainbow nation that it is.

"That depends on all of us; and to that we can attach no price," he said.

The President reiterated government's commitment to ensuring a successful tournament in 2010, saying plans to host both the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup were on track.

"Virtually all the projects and plans are completed or nearing completion - from stadia, transport infrastructure, security measures, issues of accommodation, to health and immigration plans - confirming the confidence of the global soccer fraternity that ours will be a truly successful tournament," he said.

President Motlanthe lauded the senior national soccer team - Bafana Bafana - for their recent performances. The on song Bafana Bafana have notched five wins in a row against Malawi, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon and more recently Zambia respectively.

"We believe that, after five consecutive wins, the national soccer team is now more confidently gearing itself to perform above expectations!" he said.

President Motlanthe also used the occasion of the State of the Nation Address to congratulate South African sportsmen and women who have excelled in the past year.

"We also wish in this regard to congratulate all our sporting teams which have asserted South Africa's pursuit of excellence over the past year. Special accolades are due to our cricket team which has climbed to the apex of global rankings.

"We are of course Rugby World Champions; Giniel de Villiers and his team have won the Dakar Rally; our Paralympians continue to do us proud; and our under-20 soccer team did quite well in an extremely competitive environment," he said.

The 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup will be hosted in four South African cities from 14 June 2009 to 28 June 2009 followed by the 2010 Fifa World Cup which will take place in nine host cities between 11 June and 11 July 2010.