Address by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, on the occasion of the unveiling of the FIFA Soccer World Cup South Africa 2010 emblem, Tempodrom, Berlin
7 July 2006
Programme Directors, Tumi Makgabo and Marcus Ziegler,
Your Excellency, President of FIFA, Joseph Sepp Blatter,
Your Excellency, UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan,
Your Excellency, CAF President, Issa Hayatou,
Your Excellency, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Alpha Omar Konare,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished members of the media,
Soccer ambassadors, fans and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen:
I am truly delighted to address you on this auspicious occasion - indeed a double celebration of the unveiling of the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010 South Africa Emblem and the 14th anniversary of the re-entry of South Africa to the international football arena which took place on the 7th July 1992.
On behalf of the Organising Committee South Africa, the government and the people of South Africa, we wish to express our heartfelt thanks to FIFA, the Organising Committee Germany, the government and people of Germany for their magnanimous gesture in allowing us the privilege of unveiling the 2010 Emblem during this glittering sporting tournament in Berlin.
May I also congratulate FIFA, the Organising Committee Germany and the government and people of Germany for hosting a magnificent tournament and for sharing your world-class wisdom and expertise with our 2010 Organising Committee.
It is fitting that, on 9 July, Germany hands over to South Africa the hosting of the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010 in this city of Berlin. I am saying it is fitting because the Brandenburg Gate, in all its glorious splendour, stands testament to the changing fortunes of Germany from a divided to a re-united nation in a spirit of reconciliation, togetherness and growing prosperity on both sides of the Gate.
Indeed, the Brandenburg Gate is now a symbol of German resilience, pride, dignity and joy. As Germans will recall, it was football that played such a pivotal role after the Second World War in re-defining and healing the trauma of a devastated nation.
Who can forget Helmut Rahn's magnificent winning goal that brought victory to the underdogs, Germany, against the favourites, Hungary, in that memorable 1954 FIFA World Cup in Berne? Indeed, the "Miracle of Berne", as it then became known, was widely considered to be one of the major catalysts in Germany's economic recovery as it ensured a growing and prospering soccer industry.
For Franz Beckenbauer, that historic World Cup day when German hearts beat in unison was not simply a sporting victory. As he says: "The Boss (as Helmut Rahn was called) contributed to the most important success in German sporting history. - Germany became someone again. We gave ourselves the feeling of self-respect again." (From www.sportsillustrated.com 2003)
We are confident that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will do the same to consolidate our self-respect and dignity gained when we attained our freedom and democracy in 1994 and in a unique way help our own nation and the continent of Africa also to bask in the "Miracle of South Africa".
This will clearly be a special tribute to many South Africans and Africans who have triumphed over the pernicious system of apartheid which even denied a black child the right to play football with a white child. The 2010 Soccer World Cup belongs to the many Africans, who in many parts of the world engage in a continuous struggle against racism and xenophobia.
As many of us in this room are aware, everyday we take important steps to reunite what was a divided nation. We continue to work together to ensure that every South African enjoy dignity, freedom and justice and that our children grow up in an environment that nurtures their talents, infusing the spirit of resilience and determination even in the face of difficult challenges.
This is the same spirit that helped us overcome such formidable trials and tribulations as presented by the system of apartheid. In many ways this spirit has for years been best manifested within the game of football as players, administrators and fans defied and outmanoeuvred the apartheid system to keep the game alive.
Mr. President, it was football that helped keep the high spirits of those jailed on Robben Island and in other prisons in our country. It was football that helped to boost the morale of those in exile; indeed, football was a source of comfort and solace and an inspiration for a better future for those living in the poorest of circumstances.
It was fifty years ago, in 1956, when the then Minister of Interior in apartheid South Africa, T.E. Donges, drew up the first official apartheid sport policy and legally segregated sport in our country.
However, this could not destroy the determination of our soccer players. In that same year, fifty years ago, black South African players such as Stephen Mokone, David Julius and, in 1958, Darius Dhlomo surmounted all these racist obstacles and signed contracts with Cardiff City, Sporting Lisbon and the Heracles Clubs respectively. By 1965, Leeds United winger, Albert Johanneson became the first Black South African to play in an English FA Cup Final.
All Africans, the most ardent of football fans and players, rejoiced in FIFA's decision to impose sanctions against South Africa in 1976 because they understood very well that, that action was part of the struggle for freedom. At the same time, while the rest of the world enjoyed the fruits of football fortunes, South Africans, even though enduring forced segregation in sport, also packed football stadiums and with meagre resources kept the game alive.
We are indeed very happy that the resilience, patience and love for the beautiful game by these masses of our people, was vindicated, on the 15th May 2004, when President Blatter announced that football's Golden Trophy would finally be going home to Africa. In that glorious moment, FIFA helped with the process of the restoration of our self-respect and dignity and rewarded all the African football lovers by bringing the beautiful game to the mother continent.
Indeed, the ancient kudu horn resonates across the Tempodrom heralding ardent and passionate supporters of FIFA's "beacon of hope", football, to grace the shores of the final missing ring - Africa, the cradle of humanity - in the Olympic ideal of the original Olympic Football Tournament, the forerunner of the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
The inaugural FIFA Soccer World Cup in Uruguay may well have been the turning point for the enormous success and passion that is so evident in Pele's beautiful game, jogo bonito, across South America. And soon the magnificent FIFA Golden Trophy heads to the Southern Hemisphere once again to inspire and uplift a continent, from the gold mines of South Africa to the undulating golden sands of Tunisia.
We have declared this century the African century. In this regard, few would argue that FIFA, President Blatter and the rest of the Executive Committee have made an enormous contribution towards the realisation of this goal by taking the biggest sporting event to Africa. In this way, you have proved that you are the supreme ambassadors of football and through your decision you have communicated a positive message to the billions of young people across the world for whom the golden ball or the golden shoe is the ultimate prayer of hope out of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation.
Indeed, we are inspired by President Blatter's words in Senegal in May 2006 when he said:
"Football is all about hope. Hope of a better world, hope for youngsters, hope that you will be able to give people's lives a purpose, and school them for life."
(From "Senegal notch the 100th Goal, 4 May 2006 in www.fifa.com )
Your Excellencies, I am sure that you would understand our joy as FIFA took a clear and correct stand against racism. We who have endured centuries of this cancer are indeed pleased that FIFA is leading the world in its public stance against racism, anti-corruption, anti-doping and drug abuse.
We are prepared, Mr. President to be your foot soldiers in this struggle and we will do whatever possible to ensure the success of the vision adopted by the FIFA Congress in June, which states: "Develop the game, touch the world, build a better future."
Undoubtedly, FIFA is proving, by its word and deed, that the world can succeed against the many and varied global challenges through fair and equitable partnerships based on human solidarity, co-operation, fair play and universality.
Today, we have no doubt that FIFA is Africa's Partner of Hope. Accordingly, as Africans together with FIFA we can let our hearts, spirit, mind and bodies talk the same universal language. But our partnership will not end in Africa. Clearly, in time, our shared purpose and solidarity will touch many people and reach the entire world - from the eager child in FIFA's 100th Goal Project in Senegal and Vila Brasilandia in Sao Paulo to the children of the Solomon Islands and Kazakhstan.
The Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire, the Hawks of Togo, the Black Stars of Ghana and the Olympic football champions, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have caught the eyes of the football world with their talents. We are happy that these artists whose work is displayed in the field of play will join many of their brothers and sisters as South Africa, on behalf of Africa, welcome the world to the cradle of humanity.
This will be part of the African football journey that would undoubtedly reach, sooner than later, a glorious destination of excellence and dominance. The unveiling of this Emblem is part of the continuation of this journey of consolidating the progress, the glorious passion and dazzling display of football in Africa and ensuring that we move forward faster.
We thank especially FIFA, President Blatter and the entire leadership for helping us to move faster on this journey. We thank CAF, particularly that son of Africa, Issa Hayatou, together with his committee for their sterling leadership as we march forward. Today we unveil this Emblem because in our march we are led by these giants of global and continental football.
South Africa was given the opportunity to host the 2010 FIFA World CUP because among others, Molefi Oliphant, Irvan Khoza and Danny Jordaan worked tirelessly on this important project. Indeed, we are meeting today because of the work of our own gifted 2010 African Ambassadors: George Weah, Roger Milla, Abedi Pele, Kalusha Bwalya, Lucas Radebe, Philimon Masinga and many others across our continent.
Today, in the Tempodrom, as we unveil the 2010 Emblem, we showcase in the Exhibition Hall a new forward-looking and dynamic South Africa with cutting-edge broadcast technology required by FIFA such as high definition television via broadband and television on mobile and handheld telephones. This is part of the facilities that will be available when we meet in 2010.
There are many specialised South Africa groups that have visited Germany since the beginning of the World Cup. These are the people that will be in charge of various day to day duties during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. I am confident that the experience that they got from this country would ensure that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will not only be successful but memorable.
Clearly, what they learned in this country will add to the experience that South Africans have, coming from having been privileged to host, among other international events, the African Cup of Nations, the Rugby World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and the Women's Golf World Cup.
Dear friends, in the same spirit of FIFA's new African 2010 project, we too invite you to "Win in Africa with Africa."
We invite football fans of the world to journey to a tourist paradise across our magnificent continent of Africa. For the 2010 Soccer World Cup will stand out as a unique event that celebrates Africa in all its magnificent splendour, richness, vibrancy, diversity and glory.
Just as the sound is powerfully amplified in the spirals of the kudu horn, we see hope, connections and prosperity merging between the ancient roots and the infinite possibilities of tomorrow. May the party in Germany continue to spread the magic and joy and pass this to South Africa, where the vuvuzela, our homemade football trumpet, will welcome football fans from across the world.
Again, dear friends, we come from a place where football is not simply a game but an enduring passion; we come from a place where our hearts beat in unison as we celebrate a shared destiny and love for the beautiful game with the human family.
Africa is ready. Africa's time has come.
Africa is calling: Come home to Africa in 2010 - Kommen Sie heim nach Afrika in 2010.
Issued by: The Presidency
7 July 2006