Welcoming Remarks of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Kick-Off Workshops - Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, 24 October 2006

FIFA Executive Member, Dr Amos Adamu,
Chairperson of the 2010 Local Organising Committee, Irwin Khoza,
CEO of the LOC, Danny Jordaan,
Ministers and other government representatives,
Representatives of the Official Partners, Sponsors, and Licensees of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup,
Distinguished participants and guests,
Ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, I am pleased to welcome all the participants at these very important 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-off Workshops. It is, indeed, "kick-off" time for the real hard work of making the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup the most successful tournament of them all.

Our get-together here marks yet another important step as we travel the road together towards finally hosting the most prestigious tournament of the beautiful game, football, on the African continent, and for the first time ever. I would like to thank FIFA most sincerely for organising these Kick-off Workshops so that each and every one of us understands our responsibilities and plays our respective roles as we should.

During these Workshops, Cabinet Ministers who are responsible for such portfolios as Sports and Recreation, Transport, Finance, Provincial and Local Government, Safety and Security and Environment Affairs and Tourism, all of them members of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Inter-Ministerial Committee headed by the Deputy President of the Republic, will provide you with the necessary briefing.

The high-level Government participation in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-off Workshops reflects not only the seriousness of the tasks that lie ahead of us, but also our Government's passion and unequivocal commitment to make the 2010 World Cup an eminently successful tournament.

I am here today to say to you that our Government will be with you all the way to 2010. All of us from government, in all its spheres, are here to reassure all the participants at these Workshops that, like you all, we will do everything necessary to ensure that in 2010, "we win with Africa, in Africa".

Accordingly, I am certain that each and every one of us will do the right things and spare no effort to ensure that everything necessary for a truly success 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup is done on time, and preferably ahead of schedule, meeting all the specifications set by FIFA and all the things expected us by the billions of football fans across the world.

This includes the preparation of the required stadia, the development of the transport system, the establishment of the most modern communication system, the building of the safety and security infrastructure, and the cultivation of a positive public mood in the nation, fully supportive of all our efforts, and confident of our collective success.

I can say with the greatest certainty that all of us will win in 2010, and not just the players and teams that will compete - provided that we talk the same language of confidence in ourselves and our Continent, of winning in Africa, with Africa, of the united resolve of the peoples of Africa from the Mediterranean Sea to the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans to ensure that in 2010 our Continent makes the unequivocal statement that - Africa's time has come!

As Africans, we must even say that 2010 provides us with the golden opportunity to plan correctly on and off the playing fields so that at the end of the tournament the most prestigious global sports Cup remains on the Mother Continent.

Many years ago now, Africa's middle and long distance runners burst into the world of athletics as though they were a bolt from the blue. Today, European football would not enjoy the prestige it does if it did not enjoy the outstanding services of African footballers.

There is absolutely no reason why 2010 will not, as Kip Keino, Haile Gebraiselasie, Said Aouita and Maria Mutola did, ensure that Africa bursts on our common globe, virtually like a bolt from the blue, surprising the sceptics not only about the prowess of the millions of African footballers, but also about Africa's capacity successfully to provide an outstanding home for a global tournament of universal joy and celebration.

Today, Africa is a Continent under construction. Like our valued foreign guests with us today, as they travel among us our visitors in 2010 will see a lot of exciting work-in-progress in many sectors of our society to give meaning to our humanity, as our current preparations for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup stand out as yet another example of a great site of work-in-progress in Africa that will assert our shared humanity with the nations of the world.

To discover the human fulfilment embedded in African reality, FIFA's official partners, sponsors and licensees should take up our invitation to explore today and, indeed, beyond 2010, the great message of indestructible human hope that thrives among the African masses, despite their poverty.

Everyday, as Africans, we speak of the need to respect the dignity of all human beings and embrace the universal values of ubuntu of compassion and human solidarity. I must presume that we speak as we do, of the vital importance of the sustenance of the values of ubuntu, because the experience of human savagery, directed against us, is deeply embedded in our collective memory.

I am privileged to have the opportunity today to communicate this same important message of FIFA and its official partners, sponsors and licensees of the importance to us of the message you have brought to us that we will all win in Africa, with Africa.

To those among us who are investing considerable resources to ensure the success of the 2010 FIFA African Soccer World Cup, I would like to repeat the words in the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes - cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days!

I wish all the participants in these Kick-off Workshops much success in your deliberations. Welcome to the fairest Cape and to our magnificent shores where football is indeed an enduring passion. We are equally delighted to be a host country for the FIFA Interactive World Cup in November and hope that all South Africans will be eager participants in this virtual sport for football fans.

Once more, I would like to assure the FIFA delegation that is with us today that our Government and the entirety of our people have dedicated the period up to 2010 to the resounding success of the FIFA African Soccer World Cup.

Indeed, I am confident that through these Workshops and the other work ahead of us, our hearts, spirits, minds and bodies will talk, live and breathe in unison towards the achievement of the common goal of helping to define 2010 for all humanity as eminently the year of the celebration of the fulfilment of the dreams of an entire people about their dignity, that have taken centuries to realise.

May the fairest Cape, where we meet today, inspire all of us to bring hope in 2010 to billions across the world, from the favelas of Sao Paulo to the inspirational women's football team in Iran, to FIFA's over 100 Goal humanitarian projects in Senegal, Morocco, Cape Verde, American Samoa and across the developing world, utilising the fairest game of them all, football, so that FIFA, Africa and the entire global football family win in Africa, with Africa.

Thank you.


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