World cup blog

Jordaan takes high road at breakfast pow-wow


On "rest day No 1", I went to listen to executives from Yingli Green Energy wax solar lyricals about sponsorship deals with world football’s governing body FIFA. I was even given a pack that can harness the sun’s energy to recharge my mobile phone. If only I were able to rechannel those rays into illuminating my intellect.


On "rest day No 2", I've been for a state of the World Cup nation review. Danny Jordaan, the head of the South Africa 2010 organising committee, had a breakfast pow-wow with the media.

The premier of Gauteng province, Nomvula Mokonyane, was also in on the act to laud the wonders of the area around Johannesburg.

Now, I’m an easygoing person, but if I get invited to a breakfast chat I expect a bit of organisation.

The muffins and croissants weren’t out and it was ages before the hot water arrived for the coffee.

When it did, it was a sad affair. A lady with a kettle trying her best not to scald the gaggle of journalists straining for their beverages.

When the patisseries – I do work for a French company after all – arrived, there was a thundering abundance of them.

Various hams were added to the menu. I took a muffin to keep me going because really in the morning I’m a toast kind of guy.

The main attractions arrived about 25 minutes late.

The politician spouted the usual guff about heightened experience of the province. That had interesting connotations, but it was Danny who went on to elucidate.

To save time and to continue the bizarre undertones: let me extrapolate. People have come, have seen, have been conquered.

Danny has been in the lion’s den of international doubt since South Africa was awarded the World Cup.

I’ve interviewed him in Paris during his European tours to win over the naysayers.

He has been biblically patient in public but has admitted that, in private, he has fumed about the grim perceptions circulating about South Africa and the continent.

He’s been a constant positive flow. River Jordaan answered the questions with his usual cool streams of clarity.

With 10 days to go, the 58-year-old still exudes the same quiet vibrancy of a year or two ago. He has a solid effervescence and manages to be persuasive without the braying of a politician.

‘‘We look forward to the quarter finals and semi finals,’’ he posited.

‘‘And I know that it will be the biggest moment of our country to host the World Cup final in Soccer City, more than 80,000 fans, million s of South Africans watching and millions watching around the world.

''This is the dream of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of 16 years of long and hard work.

"This has been an incredible and exciting experience for all of us and I hope for you too.’’

To my mind if you can get Mandela, Tutu and dream into one sentence you’ve unquestonably captured the high ground.

And if you have River Jordaan running around it. You’re impregnable.



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