CAPE TOWN: South Africa launched its bid to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup in Cape Town on Tuesday, with organisers vowing to do all they could to make sure an African country would host the coveted tournament for the first time.
Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the country's bidding committee, told a banquet in Cape Town that the bid was “an African bid and South Africa was merely the stage.”
“The bid will embrace all of Africa,” he said, adding that when the committee went to Paris for FIFA's (the world soccer governing body) 100th anniversary next year, it would be hoping to hear the outcome as one of the favourites.
He added however that South Africa should not be complacent because there would be fierce competition from countries like Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco.
South Africa lost the bid to host the 2006 World Cup to Germany amid much controversy in July 2000.
They were pipped 12-11 by a Franz Beckenbauer-led Germany in the final round of voting after octogenarian Charles Dempsey, who was representing Oceania, abstained.
Dempsey's vote would have tied the votes at 12-12, and with FIFA chief Sepp Blatter pledging to use his special vote to support an African country, the result would have gone in South Africa's favour.
His walk out triggered worldwide condemnation and calls for the quadrennial showcase of international football to be rotated around the continents instead of every alternate tournament going to Europe.
Jordaan has said the bid committee had received the technical requirements from FIFA and were now putting a working programme together. A bid book would be given to FIFA at the end of May.
Irvin Khoza, the chairman of the bid committee, described the World Cup as being close the heart of Mbeki and in keeping with the spirit with his idea of an African renaissance.
“We want the cup to be hosted in South Africa, we want to take up where our cricket colleagues left off,” he said referring to South Africa's hosting of the Cricket World Cup in March.
“This is the first time a Soccer World Cup will be hosted in Africa and the logical route is from Cape to Cairo,” in reference to the competition from other African countries.
Sport Minister Ncgonde Balfour told the gathering it was up to Khoza and Jordaan to get the bid.
“I only have to crack the whip,” he said.
South Africa's squad, called Bafana Bafana (the boys, the boys) yesterday played Jamaica to mark the local launch of its bid. The international launch will be marked by a game against England on May 22.
Jordaan confirmed that England had promised to select its strongest possible squad for the match. – AFP