Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, says the unsavoury attacks from the Western media directed at Qatar’s clinching of the rights to host the tournament in 2022 is similar to what his country faced when they hosted event five years ago.
Jordaan now president of the South African Football Association, drew parallels with Qatar’s plans for 2022 and the first edition of the finals tournament on the African continent in 2010.
Like Qatar, Jordaan said that South Africa also received a lot pre-tournament 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.
The SAFA boss says the attack Qatar has faced particularly in the Western media and football circles is just what his country faced and advised that the Asian country must be prepared to face further attacks.
“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,” he said.
For Jordaan the tournament in South Africa was one for all of Africa. “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.”
Turning to the home support, Jordaan said it is important to keep domestic fans engaged to keep the tournament atmosphere positive. He said that few expected South Africa to make it far in the 2010 competition but because the World Cup was a viewed as continental tournament, fans moved their support on to 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.”
Jordaan described the World Cup finals in South Africa 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.”
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