2010 World Cup CEO Draws Parallels Between South Africa and Qatar

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Danny Jordaan was the mastermind behind the South Africa World Cup (Getty)
(WFI) Nelson Mandela may have been the image of the 2010 World Cup but another man – also an anti-apartheid campaigner – was the brains behind the bid.

Danny Jordaan, who was in Qatar recently to give a lecture for the Josoor Institute, was the successful CEO of South Africa 2010 and previously held posts in FIFA coordinating tournaments like the U-20 World Cup and Confederations Cup.

For Jordaan, the most memorable moment of 2010 was when his friend Mandela arrived in front of a sold out stadium for the tournament’s final match.

Also the president of the South African Football Association, he told the Qatar 2022 website (www.sc.qa) about his most cherished memory: “The day of the final when you know it’s finally over. Nelson Mandela came in his golf cart on the pitch waving to the crowd and, with Iniesta’s goal and the handing over of the trophy, it was such a memorable final. After that I just collapsed. It’s amazing how the energy sustains you but when it’s finally over it all moves out of you. I couldn’t believe it was finally over and we’d made it.”

The resilient Jordaan was also behind South Africa’s unsuccessful bid for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, before the tournament finally went to his country four years later. But for Jordaan, the tournament in South Africa was one for all of Africa, and he was quick to draw parallels to Qatar’s plans for 2022.

“What’s almost the same with South Africa is that we declared our tournament a continental event instead of a national one,” Jordaan said.

“We wanted an African World Cup, not only a South African World Cup, and we had people telling us to delink it and make it a nationwide tournament – not a continental one. Their argument was due to the negative stereotype of Africa, because if you say it’s an African World Cup the world will say look, things won’t work, nothing good comes from Africa, disease, wars, coups, all of these negative images…and we said no, it’s going to be an African World Cup and it’s going to be world class.”

Drawing further parallels to Qatar, Jordaan noted that South Africa received the same amount of criticism.

“A lot of attacks came from Afro-pessimists, but we were going to show the world that there was no difference in being African and being world class. Now Qatar is pushing the 2022 event as a regional event, as one for the Middle East and North Africa. They must be ready for those challenges and it will be difficult.”

Jordaan also noted that many people didn’t expect South Africa to make it far in 2010, explaining that it is important for the home crowd to remain engaged with the tournament for the atmosphere of the country to remain positive. The atmosphere in South Africa, because the World Cup was a continental tournament, remained upbeat and positive because fans supported other African teams as well.

“When Ghana was having a good run in the second round and eventually made it to the quarterfinals, instead of cheering for our team, the Bafana Bafana, we started to cheer for Baghana Baghana. We thought that in order to sustain the momentum of support in the stands, we need to get continental support too. I think this would work for Qatar and the Middle East too.”

Concluding with his impressions of the tournament, Jordaan remembered that tournament as “an amazing experience for a nation to see its team being paraded as one of the best in the world.

"It’s an experience you can only live through. It’s the same experience for hosting. For the people of the country it lifts them, because only the best in the world are now coming to the country, and you are their host. It was an emotional and unbelievable experience and a very special moment for our people, as it will be for the people of Qatar.”

Source: Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

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