Source: The Presidency
Title: T Mbeki: Presentation to FIFA on SA's bid for 2010 Soccer World Cup
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 FIFA.
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 dignity.
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 World Cup.
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 must.
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 privilege.
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.
I thank you for your attention.
Issued by: The Presidency
14 May 2004