World Cup must instill African pride - Blatter

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Johannesburg - FIFA President Sepp Blatter has once again reiterated that the legacy of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa should not only be about the infrastructure that has been built in the country but that the tournament should leave a lasting sense of pride among Africans.

He is strong in his belief that the people of South Africa and the continent should be able to look beyond the "magnificent stadiums, the beautiful roads, airports and the famous Gautrain" to see the legacy of the first FIFA World Cup to be played on their continent.

"Its more than that, the people of this beautiful country and of course the Sub-Saharan Africa should be able to say we are seeing the development of football, football for hope centres are working and our children are being educated," Blatter said on Monday night.

"This World Cup must be able to inspire the Football for Hope we have been preaching, long after 11 June," he said, speaking at a gala dinner hosted by the Department of Sports to welcome members of the FIFA executive committee to the country. FIFA will also have its first historic two-day congress in Johannesburg this week, a first to be hosted on the African continent.

The South African government has invested billions of rands to ensure it meets all the FIFA guarantees that has made it possible for the country to host the event.

But Blatter, who was also awarded the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo by President Jacob Zuma, said the investment should be worth every cent spent. The Order of Companions of OR Tambo is one of the most prestigious accolades awarded to a non-South African who has consistently demonstrated solidarity with the country and its people.

Zuma later said South Africa will be supporting the 1Goal Education for all Campaign that FIFA had embarked on throughout Africa. "We will be asking Heads of State and government as well as the private sector to invest in education to ensure that 72 million disadvantaged children are able to go to school," Zuma said.

Meanwhile, Blatter applauded South Africans for the hospitality they have demonstrated throughout this period adding that the hundreds of visitors who continue to invade the country's shores ahead of the tournament will no doubt regard this year's World Cup as the "best ever" they have seen. "I can tell you that the teams that have arrived here are very happy and thanks to the warm hospitality the people of this country and the government has given to us, the FIFA family. I I have no doubt this is going to be the best world cup ever".

Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo also called on South Africans of all races to use the World Cup as a catalyst against the scourge of racism and other forms of discrimination. Masondo said the event was being embraced by all South Africans, including Africans beyond the continent's borders. "It is for this reason that we must use this powerful event to unite our people against all forms of racism and all forms of discrimination," he said.