JOHANNESBURG - If South Africa get a
resounding seal of approval for their running of the World Cup
one man will carry most of the plaudits for the success of the
History teacher, anti-apartheid activist, Member of
Parliament and consummate sports politician, Danny Jordaan has
been the driving force behind the organisation of the event.
At times, he waged almost a one-man crusade to bring Africa
its first World Cup, travelling hundreds of thousands of miles,
cajoling FIFA executive committee members and selling the
message of the country's capability.
"He's been the face of this World Cup, going to almost every
country in the world and sacrificing his personal life for the
country in the process," Kirsten Nematandani, the South African
Football Association president, told Reuters.
Jordaan ran two bid campaigns, the first unsuccessful and
the second victorious, and then turned his hand to organising
the finals, including the construction of six new stadiums.
The strong feature of South Africa's organisation was the
almost slavish buy-in from the government who opened the coffers
to pay for massive infrastructure improvements and provided all
the guarantees required by world football's governing body.
Jordaan's close relationship with the country's leaders,
forged during his membership of the first post-Apartheid
Parliament, was vital to open doors and ensure commitment from
the executive and legislative branches of government.
The 58-year-old gave up his seat in Parliament to pursue the
World Cup dream.
With his scraggly beard and slightly dishevelled look,
Jordaan has the air of the history teacher he was once was but
as the eloquent and erudite spokesman for South Africa his is
now an internationally known face.
An intimate understanding of the ever-shifting dynamics of
world footballing politics, close friendships with key figures
in the game across the globe and a relentless appetite for
travel meant he rarely missed an opportunity to argue his cause.
"The resilience of the bloke was incredible," said David
Davies, who was chief executive of the Football Association at
the time England were rival campaigners for the 2006 finals.
"He never stopped. Lobbying is a 24/7 task when you are
involved in one of those bids and he never seemed to take a
break," Davies told Reuters.
After the bidding campaigns, Jordaan shifted to the role of
organiser - a much more complex task, especially when soon
after the right to host the World Cup had been won there were
attempts to move him out of his central role.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter travelled to South Africa to
insist Jordaan be made chief executive officer of the local
Jordaan's relationship with the committee chairman Irvin
Khoza has always been frosty and became even more acrimonious
last year when the two went head-to-head for the leadership of
the South African Football Association.
Both withdrew from the race but the fallout from a
bitterly-fought contest is now likely to be a major part of his
future focus as Jordaan returns to the domestic football arena
after a decade of having the World Cup as his singular focus.
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