- South Africa today was elected the host of the 2010 football World Cup finals, leading to spontaneous joy and celebrations in the country. This first World Cup to be played in Africa may help put South Africa on the map as a tourist and investment destination, South Africans hope. In Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, football officials however expressed their disappointment.
The decision in South Africa's favour was made at a FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich today. With 14 votes, South Africa was declared as winner after only one round of voting. In the secret vote, Morocco received 10 votes, while Egypt did not tally any. Tunisia had already been disqualified over its plans to co-host the Cup with Libya.
FIFA President Joseph Blatter announced the results of the vote at a media conference held today at the World Trade Centre in Zurich in the presence of high-ranking government officials of the candidate countries as well as hundreds of media representatives from all around the world. In a short address prior to announcing the host nation, Mr Blatter thanked the five bidders for their excellent work and stressed: "The winner is Africa. The winner is football."
As Mr Blatter thus announced that South Africa was to become the 2010 World Cup host, South Africans spontaneously took to the streets in euphoria. Celebrations broke loose in all major cities and towns and South African flags were waving in every township.
In Zurich, the heavyweights of the South African delegation - ex-President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu - immediately erupted into joyful celebrations. Also in Pretoria, returned President Thabo Mbeki ignored procedure and security advisors and joined the singing and dancing crowds on the streets.
Also South African business and tourism authorities are joyful over the decision, which will mean a multi-billion dollar injection of fresh investments. South African tourism authorities foresee an enormous increase in arrivals and construction of new infrastructure. Among other South African businesses, especially the construction sector is optimistic.
For the FIFA Executive Committee, the South African bid had been marked by "excellence". Convening this morning to discuss the applications for the final time, the FIFA Executive Committee only had to deliberate over four bids, as prior to the associations’ presentations on 14 May, the Executive Committee had once again confirmed that the FIFA statutes did not provide for a co-hosting arrangement. This confirmation led Tunisia to withdraw its bid.
Furthermore, during its final deliberations, the Executive Committee came to the conclusion that it "could no longer consider Libya's bid as it did not meet all the stipulations laid down in the official list of requirements," according to a FIFA statement. The executive nevertheless thanked the Libyan Football Federation for its work during the bidding procedure.
The result however produced disappointment in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Moroccan authorities had made their fourth bid to host the World Cup, connected it to an extensive development programme and felt it was their turn. Football officials in Rabat blamed the defeat on Mr Blatter personally, who had "used all his weight to influence the outcome of the vote," according to a Moroccan member of the bidding committee.
In Egypt, football officials were disappointed, but not surprised. The greatest surprise was that Egypt had not secured any vote at all in the FIFA Executive Committee. Officials said that Egypt indeed had proven to have "all the capabilities to organise the tournament," and thus could not understand the very negative outcome.
In Tunisia, the disappointment had already come on Thursday, as the country was obliged to withdraw its bid. The Libyan bid to host the World Cup was excluded during the morning as the national committee had confirmed it would not allow an Israeli team to participate in the Cup on its soil. Nevertheless, for enthusiastic Libyans and Tunisians, the defeat was a great disappointment.
The result of FIFA's vote represents the highlight and climax of an 18-month procedure that began at the end of 2002 with the African member associations invited to declare an interest in hosting the tournament. As well as the five countries that submitted full bid files and received visits from the FIFA inspection group between October 2003 and the end of January 2004, Nigeria had also shown initial interest but decided against following it up at the end of September 2003.
In 2000, following the dramatic result of the voting for the host nation of the 2006 FIFA World Cup with Germany prevailing by 12 votes to 11 - with one abstention - the FIFA Executive Committee decided to introduce a rotation policy for the World Cup and accorded Africa the right to host the 2010 World Cup. The following event is to be held in South America in 2014.
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