South Africa is conquering doubters as preparations for the 2010 football World Cup fall into place, the head of local organising committee said on Wednesday, one year before the games begin.
South Africa was named the host after narrowly losing its bid to Germany for the 2006 tournament, and ever since has struggled to overcome doubts about its readiness for one of the world’s biggest sports spectacles.
“I suggest that we work together to accept the reality that the World Cup is here, it is happening. Tickets are being sold and there is no Plan B,” said Danny Jordaan.
Jordaan led the efforts to bring the games to South Africa and is the most visible promoter for the local organising committee. He said it was gratifying to see preparations fall into place as the Confederations Cup kicks off Sunday, seen as a curtainraiser for next year’s competition.
“It’s been an incredible journey — a journey of hope, despair and then triumph,” Jordaan told journalists.
“When we lost to Germany, I felt empty. But when we came back home, the unwavering spirit of the people who came to welcome us at the airport gave us hope and encouraged us to try again.”
Jordaan acknowledged the support of numerous African football legends like Cameroon’ Roger Milla, Liberian George Weah, and Abedi Pele of Ghana, who backed the country’s bid.
“The people of South Africa fought apartheid and won, so they would not just accept defeat and forget about trying again,” added Jordaan.
Six stadiums are rising up all over the country while the transport system is being revamped to welcome Africa’s first-ever football World Cup. The first new stadium was completed this week in Port Elizabeth, while four others have been renovated for the Confed Cup.
“All stadiums will be complete by October, except for the Green Point stadium in Cape Town which is due to be finished in December,” said Jordaan.
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