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Source: The Presidency
Title: T Mbeki: Presentation to FIFA on SA's bid for 2010 Soccer
PRESENTATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, THABO MBEKI, TO THE
FIFA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ON SOUTH AFRICA'S BID FOR THE 2010 SOCCER
WORLD CUP: Zurich, Switzerland, 14 May 2004
President of FIFA, Mr Sepp Blatter
Distinguished Members of the Executive Committee of FIFA
Elected officials of the Federation
Ladies and gentlemen
We thank you most sincerely for giving us this extraordinary
opportunity to address the President and the Executive Committee of
I am also privileged to convey to you our deep felt gratitude for
giving the peoples of Africa the possibility to host the Soccer
World Cup. The historic decision you took has made the unequivocal
statement that you, the leaders of world soccer, are firmly of the
view that Africa's time has come!
Today and tomorrow, the eyes of 800 million Africans will be
focused on FIFA House, Zurich. It is true that each one of these
Africans will be waiting in tense expectation to see which among
our sister countries will have the privilege to host the 2010
Soccer World Cup.
But these millions of Africans will also be united by the common
desire to hear that this distinguished Executive Committee has
taken its earlier decision to its logical conclusion, by electing
one of our countries to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
As you know so well, Mr President and Honourable Members of the
Executive Committee of FIFA, these millions have embarked on an
exciting human journey.
This is an African journey of hope - hope that, in time, we will
arrive at a future when our continent will be free of wars,
refugees and displaced people, free of tyranny, of racial, ethnic
and religious divisions and conflicts, of hunger, and the
accumulated weight of centuries of the denial of our human
And therein, Mr President and Honourable Members of the Executive
Committee of FIFA, lies the immense importance of the decision you
took in 2001, to afford Africa the privilege to host the Soccer
Through this decision, you conveyed the message to all Africans,
both on the continent and the African Diaspora, that you are ready
and willing to accompany us on our journey of hope, and give us the
strength and stamina we need to traverse the difficult terrain that
separates us from Africa's renaissance.
The Soccer World Cup is one of the biggest festivals of our age. It
provides a global stage on which nations and peoples of the world
come together to reaffirm our common humanity. It creates the
opportunity, so important in our troubled universe, for all of us
to experience the reality that we belong to one human family,
regardless of race, colour, gender, age, political and religious
belief, and country or continent of origin.
It is therefore right that you, who have custody of the World Cup,
must insist that the best conditions should be created to ensure
that each and every Soccer World Cup succeeds, as it must.
We understand this very well that we too, who humbly seek the
opportunity to host the 2010 World Cup, are bound by the same
requirement to ensure that the 2010 Soccer World Cup succeeds as it
We have also understood this very well, that the fact that the
tournament will be coming to Africa for the first time, coming to
an Africa going through its moment of rebirth, makes it doubly
important that, if this were at all possible, the 2010 Soccer World
Cup should reach new heights in confirming the correctness of the
decision that the Executive Committee will announce tomorrow.
As you will have seen, Mr President and Honourable Members of the
Executive Committee of FIFA, the delegation appearing before you
includes the President of the South African Football Association,
the leadership of our Bid Committee and other South African soccer
leaders, three of our Nobel Peace Prize Winners, three of the most
outstanding African footballers, business leaders, Ministers of our
government and, of course, the President of our Republic.
We have come to Zurich together, Mr President, to pledge to the
FIFA Executive Committee, both singly and collectively, that if
South Africa is granted the privilege to host the 2010 Soccer World
Cup, we will ensure that we respect the high standards that FIFA
must necessarily set as a condition for granting this
We have come to Zurich together to convey the seriousness with
which we take your decision that Africa should host the 2010 Soccer
World Cup. In front of you, we reiterate our commitment to ensure
that indeed all Africa shares a common sense of participation in a
World Cup hosted by Africa.
With all due humility, we undertake that as hosts of the Soccer
World Cup, we would ensure that our continent shares a common sense
of empowering achievement at what we would do to ensure that we
sustain the pride of FIFA, all footballers and lovers of football
throughout the world, and humanity in general in the human festival
that is the Soccer World Cup.
In addition, Honourable Members of the FIFA Executive Committee, we
have carefully studied the Report of the Inspection Group. We
commit ourselves to address all the concerns raised by the Group,
at all times working with you and your colleagues in FIFA, Mr
President, fully respecting your responsibility to ensure an
excellent 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Less than three weeks ago we had the privilege to welcome you to
our country, Mr President, as well as other leaders of FIFA, as we
celebrated our First Decade of Democracy. We were greatly honoured
that you were able to attend these historic celebrations because as
Africans and South Africans, we had wanted to say - thank you FIFA
for what you did to help us achieve our freedom!
We wanted you to celebrate together with us because of the
important role that FIFA played in the international struggle
against Apartheid, to ensure that our people, both black and white,
attain freedom, democracy, peace and reconciliation among the
different racial, ethnic and religious groups that had seemed set
to sink into an abyss of a bloody catastrophe.
I trust that what you saw of the new South Africa that you helped
to bring into being, told you that we have not disappointed the
expectations of FIFA about our country and people when the
International Federation imposed a sports boycott against apartheid
South Africa in 1976 and when it lifted that boycott in 1992,
practically showing all our people the rich reward of persisting in
the peaceful negotiations that resulted in the birth of democratic
South Africa in 1994.
We held our third democratic general elections exactly a month ago.
In a real sense, these peaceful, free and fair elections were a
referendum about our first 10 years of freedom, and a plebiscite to
decide the agenda of our Second Decade of Liberation.
In that plebiscite, the millions we represent said that by 2014
they want to see a South Africa that has made decisive advances in
the national effort to build a society of which all humanity would
be proud. They said they want to see an African continent that has
taken a giant step forward towards its renaissance.
Mr President and Honourable Members of the Executive Committee of
FIFA, I dare say this without fear of contradiction, that nothing
can serve to inspire our people and all Africa to achieve these
humane goals as much as would the knowledge that the 2010 Soccer
World Cup would come to our shores.
Nothing could ever serve to energise our people to work for their
and Africa's upliftment than to integrate among the tasks of our
Second Decade of Democracy and the African Renaissance our
successful hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
During the years that have now passed, we were privileged to walk a
difficult road side by side with FIFA, to end what was offensive to
all humanity. It is our heartfelt desire that, once more, we will
walk side by side with FIFA on a journey of hope for South Africa,
Africa and the world.
We pray that thus you will help us fully to restore Africa's
dignity, as humanity advances to the year 2010, the end of the
first decade of the 21st century and the third millennium, as
together we undertake a journey of hope that would be crowned by
the joyful festival that will be the 2010 Soccer World Cup.