Govt endorses Fifa bid

South Africans who seek to participate in influential global decision-making organisations, whether political, sporting or economic, must be encouraged and supported by the government to ensure they achieve those objectives, which in turn will benefit the country.

So said Claysen Monyela, deputy director for public diplomacy, on hearing that former 2010 Fifa World Cup local organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan has hit the campaign trail in an attempt to win an executive position in the world controlling body. Elections take place in Khartoum, Sudan, on February 23.

Two Fifa positions for African candidates are up for grabs: Nigerian Dr Amos Adamu was suspended by Fifa for allegedly soliciting bribes from British journalists masquerading as representatives of the United States, which was bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 Fifa World Cup, and the term of Côte d’Ivoire’s Jacques Anouma has ended.

Adamu, however, has said that he will contest his suspension and Anouma said he will seek re-election. Jordaan is also up against Zambian Kalusha Bwalya, Suketu Patel of the Seychelles and Mohamed Raouraoua of Algeria.

“We think that individuals like Danny Jordaan seeking an opportunity to participate in global organisations should be given access and the necessary support structures as well as the assistance required to ensure they succeed in their attempts to become the country’s ambassadors,” said Monyela.

“When Dr Mamphela Ramphele served as managing director of the World Bank, her illustrious position at this influential organisation ensured that people looked at South Africa with trust and respect because of the role she played.”

First IOC in Africa
And Sam Ramsamy, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and vice-president of the International Swimming Federation, said being on an internationally recognised body assisted the representative to better understand views about South Africa and also to use these forums to explain and lobby for African issues.

“Many countries provide funding for the country’s citizens lobbying for international positions,” said Ramsamy. “Therefore I hope that Danny Jordaan, who has done an excellent job not only in organising the Fifa 2010 World Cup, but has also used the platform to dispel so many negative notions about our country, gets the necessary support and funding for his campaign.

“In July this year we are holding the IOC session [general assembly] in Durban. This is the first time in the IOC’s 107-year history that the session will be held in Africa. I had to convince IOC members, made up of heads of state, royalty, senior business personalities, the world’s top athletes and sport officials, including Sepp Blatter, to vote for Durban to host the 2020 Olympic Games.”

Monyela said the department of public diplomacy works through the International Marketing Council to ensure that every South African carrying the national flag was supported.

“We need to deploy every compatriot to participate in lobbying to ensure that a person we think is available to better serve our national interest at global organisations is not sidelined,” said Monyela.

“We cannot fold our arms and watch events unfolding without participating in ensuring that our collective voice is heard by the world. All of us must participate in such a move towards helping people like Jordaan; it is important for our country.”

‘People saw a different Africa’
In the past individuals from countries that have hosted the World Cup tournament have used the success of the event to get onto the Fifa executive. In 2002 Junji Ogura (Japan) and Chung Mong-Joon (South Korea) capitalised on the successful co-hosting of the first World Cup in Asia to do so.

Franz Beckenbauer, better known as “Der Kaiser” (the Emperor) worked his way into Fifa on the back of Germany’s 2006 hosting of the event. Frenchman Michel Platini also secured a Fifa executive position soon after his country had hosted the 1998 World Cup.

Now Jordaan hopes to ride on the back of the successful hosting of the 2010 World Cup, the first staged on the African continent, by trying to garner enough votes to allow him to occupy a seat.

According to Monyela, football in South Africa has proved to be a catalyst in bringing people together, bearing in mind our historical background, and this was illustrated prior to and during the World Cup, when people from all walks of life wore the national colours and waved their flags in support of Bafana Bafana.

“The World Cup did more than any other marketing exercise to promote this country and completely changed the Afro-pessimism about the country and the continent. It changed the previously myopic view of a continent in chaos where wars and starvation are daily occurrences. People saw a different Africa, with first-class infrastructure.”

Jordaan, who left for Accra on Tuesday to attend the Ghana Fifa Goal Project at the invitation of Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantakyi, said: “I am standing for election to the Fifa executive because I feel I can make a contribution towards the development of football across the continent and the world. I think the experience I gained working on various Fifa organs for the past 20 years has given me the background to what’s needed to make a difference.”

He was supposed to proceed to Abuja to receive an award for the country’s successful hosting of the World Cup but he has been requested by the government to attend the announcement of the 2015 and 2017 Africa Nations Cup hosts by the Confederation of African Football in Lubumbashi on Friday.

Morocco and South Africa are the only candidates bidding to host the two editions of the biennial continental tournaments.

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