2010 must be used to change Africa's image

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pretoria - The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has called on 2010 FIFA World Cup organisers to use next year's tournament to change Africa's image.

"There is great power in this [tournament]. It is a time to present a different story of the African continent, a story of peace, democracy and investment," Ban told Local Organising Committee (LOC) boss Dr Danny Jordaan in a meeting in New York on Wednesday.

Jordaan was in New York to update the United Nations General Assembly on the preparations towards the World Cup, with emphasis on the legacy benefits of the tournament for the African continent.

Ban said the tournament was about far more than the 90 minutes on the pitch and was an event which touched every corner of the globe. He fondly remembered his native Korea Republic co-hosting Asia's first World Cup with Japan in 2002.

The game of football above all other sports, unifies people and builds solidarity and consensus, said Ban, adding that he believed this would be the case when South Africa hosted the World Cup in June and July next year.

All members of the United Nations General Assembly this week passed a resolution to endorse next year's event in South Africa as a platform for social development and peace across the African continent.

"More than ever, we are beginning to see the legacy of this event take shape and it is given more impact and impetus to have the endorsement of all the 192 member states of the General Assembly," Jordaan enthused.

He thanked Ban for his assistance in helping South Africa take the message of hope to the world, saying that peace is not just the absence of war but it create circumstances that create hope.

"The legacy of this World Cup embarks on changing the circumstances of many people through its social legacy projects, job creation and advancements in telecommunications and infrastructure," Jordaan told Ban.

The LOC boss has also extended an invite to Ban to attend Africa's first World Cup next year and later, saying that it was imperative for the UN Secretary General to attend the tournament.

"The UN Secretary General must not only come to the continent when there is war, when he wants to talk about Darfur.

"He must come to Africa when Africa celebrates, when Africa excels. When there is good news, he must always be there," said Dr Jordaan.

Meanwhile, South Africa's Ambassador to the United Nations, Baso Sangqu, said he was very pleased with the support received for the country's 2010 FIFA World Cup efforts from the United Nations General Assembly.

"This resolution is the first of its kind and underpins the global support to the commitment of South Africa to not just make this another sporting event, but to ensure that it is based on the agenda for peace, development and stability for Africa - in the hope that these benefits will trickle through far beyond the final whistle.

"This resolution will continue to energise and engage the United Nations to walk this path with South Africa and Africa," said Sangqu.