/ 23 May 2008

Danny Jordaan condemns violence

Soccer World Cup chief organiser Danny Jordaan condemned anti-immigrant violence in South Africa on Friday but said it would pass before the tournament takes place.

At least 42 people have been killed and more than 25 000 driven from their homes in 12 days of attacks by mobs that accuse African migrants of taking jobs and fuelling crime.

Jordaan said the level of scrutiny on 2008 Olympic hosts China in the wake of the Sichuan earthquake and his own country after the recent violence was an inevitable result of hosting the world’s two biggest sporting events.

”We can see the focus of attention on our countries, for completely different reasons, both of them tragic,” he told the International Football Arena conference.

”Our standpoint is that this World Cup must be a celebration of Africa’s humanity.

”Africa has too often been a continent of division, of wars, of humiliation. And certainly we condemn any situation that continues to inflict on African people humiliation, suffering, war, disease.

”So our position is crystal clear and we ask that every action must be taken to stop inflicting on displaced people further displacement.”

Jordaan said South Africa hoped an increase in tourism from 7,4-million last year to 10-million tourists in 2010 would be one of the main legacies of the World Cup and he was confident the violence would not be a problem by then.

”It’s something that will pass … South Africans are not xenophobic,” he said.

Jordaan reiterated his view that all the stadiums would be ready in time for the tournament, although he conceded that finishing a new stadium in Port Elizabeth in time for the Confederations Cup in July next year was ”a challenge”.

He said South Africa hoped to emulate 2006 host Germany in welcoming visitors without match tickets at ”Fan Parks”, where they would be able to watch games on big screens in a secure environment.

”Our view is that fan parks should be as important as the stadiums,” he said. ”It must be structured, organised and that includes security. We see it as another World Cup site.”

Jordaan said he thought the litmus test of a big sporting event was how well the local community embraced it.

”We want it to be remembered as the people’s World Cup, where the people celebrate the game,” he said.

”I don’t think there are any football fans like African football fans, with painted faces, with colourful dress with song and dance and celebration.” – Reuters