International leaders sing SA's praises

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pretoria - South Africa got the thumbs up on Sunday for its role as host nation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup as international leaders sang the country's praises.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter was among the most vocal, describing the country and its citizens as role models while addressing the 1Goal Education for All Summit in Pretoria.

South Africa had set an example, not only through the hospitality the country had shown as a host nation, but also through its exceptional organisational skills, Blatter said.

"The trust FIFA has put into the country and its people have been answered with a big, big success. Thank you South Africa, thank you," he added.

Blatter joked that everyone had survived the vuvuzelas, even though it did not seem as if they would at the start of the tournament.

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende also congratulated South African on the "outstanding organisation of the World Cup".

Balkenende said he had visited a church service in South Africa on Sunday where vuvuzelas were used during the service.

"It is an excellent example for other countries," he said.

The only comment the Prime Minister would make on the final match between Netherlands and Spain was to disregard octopus Paul's prediction that Spain would win the World Cup.

"Don't believe the octopus Paul because the female octopus Pauline from the Netherlands and the small bird Mani from Singapore are predicting another result.

President of the Gabon and African Union representative Ali Ondimba Bongo thanked South Africa for making the continent proud.

"The World Cup has drawn the attention of hundreds of thousands of international visitors and millions of viewers to the continent. I want to congratulate South Africa for the successful hosting of the World Cup as an African event," he added.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Director General Irina Bokova said she was planning to take three vuvuzelas home for her children