One year on - interview with Jordaan
It is three days to the one-year anniversary of South Africa hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup and chief executive Danny Jordaan is still as busy as he was a year ago.
On a wet and miserably cold Joburg morning, Jordaan booked a business suite in a posh Sandton hotel as he had interviews lined up for the whole day. First it was Talk Radio 702, then SuperSport.com, with the likes of SkySports, ESPN, CNN, BBC and many others also waiting their turn.
Later on that day he also made an appearance at the screening of Once In A Lifetime - The Movie. A year ago he would have been frantically running from point A to point B and barking instructions as his team put the final touches on the preparations for the opening ceremony and the first match of the 2010 World Cup.
This time, however, the stress level is significantly lower and Jordaan could even afford a smile and cracked a joke or two. He looks back at 2010 with fond memories that he plans to capture in his biography sometime in the future. But one thing is certain. “I will never do it again,” he says referring to being CEO of the local organising committee.
Have you been able to take leave or go on holiday since after the World Cup?
Not as long as I had wanted. I hope at the end of this month we will finally close down everything (2010 Fifa World Cup business) and then I can go on that long awaited long holiday -- three months… or six months.
After the WC you remained in your post for some time. What are some of the things you had to do?
We had the IBC, 10 venues, the headquarters, a number of media sites and hospitality areas as well. So we had to close down all those things and restore the stadiums’ precincts and leave the stadiums in their original states.
Then of course there were other things. As you saw we had many claims of about R560 million coming from the cities. That related to all sorts of things -- some to damages and other additional costs like electricity and water bills. We had to settle these and sign final agreements. Many more invoices would come and also we had to recover some money from service providers, so it was all administrative and legal matters.
Would the issues with the volunteers have been some of the issues you also had to deal with?
Yes that too. Some of the volunteers did not have banking accounts, others did not have fixed addresses or you would find that, in some cases, they no longer live at the addresses they gave. We had to try and track them down and remember we had 20 000 people all in all working on the World Cup.
Now as we wind down the business, we had 20 and now we are down to 12.
A year on after the 2010 World Cup, what are some of the things which remind you of that great spectacle?
The good thing for me is that in September (2010) I went on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups inspection and evaluation tours for Qatar, Australia, Korea, Japan, Russia, England, Portugal, Spain, United States, Belgium and Holland.
Being outside the country and listening to what they had to say, because they were all here -- the Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. Even in the USA we had breakfast at the White House and the Secretary of Housing there came with a Makarapa and the other one came with a Vuvuzela.
So it’s very clear that this World Cup (2010) had a tremendous positive impact on the people throughout the world. In Russia, when we came in, they played the Waka Waka song… because they knew I was part of the delegation. That song was very popular; in fact it was number one in Russia. So the World Cup really made a huge positive impact all over the world.
The image of the country has changed of course, which is what we had hoped for and always wanted to achieve.
Today being three days to the anniversary of the SA World Cup, looking back what would you have done differently if anything?
They always say hindsight is always a good thing. I think the overall planning was good, the monitoring was good. I don’t think there’s a lot that would need to change. Looking at the expenditure side there are things that we could have done.
We could have saved a bit of money in some instances but I think overall, on the finance side, it was a very positive outlook. I am very happy. There’s very little I would change but I don’t think I would do it again (serve on the local organising committee).
Great financial gains for Fifa…
Yes and when you look at where we came from… when we made the bid for the 2006 World Cup, the argument for Germany was that Korea/Japan was a World Cup in two countries and you had double the costs -- you had two organising committees and the costs had to double. So what happened was that Fifa did not make the kind of money they had hoped for in Korea/Japan. In addition to that, Fifa had some serious economic challenges from 2001 due to the collapse of ISL.
So there was a strong argument from Germany that if you go to South African, you would suffer double the losses. Then they said rather go to Germany where you will make a big profit and thereafter you can go to Africa and suffer losses. That was the mind-set. Germany generated $2.6 billion and South Africa $4.2 million. That’s 53 per cent more revenue generated in the four-year period to 2010 compared to the period leading to Germany 2006.
How will you be commemorating the one year anniversary of SA hosting the World Cup?
We were going to have a celebration this Saturday and unfortunately, due to the passing away of Ma Sisulu, we decided it would not be appropriate to celebrate on the same day as her funeral. We then said rather let’s look at July 11 and that’s the position we have taken.
That would have been the day the final match was played but the challenge there is that July 11 is a Monday, so instead we will have our celebrations on July 9-10.
What difference has the World Cup made on the lives of ordinary South Africans?
A sense of pride…when you see South Africans all over the world and the reaction they receive when they introduce themselves, the immediate smiles and the sense that their country has delivered something they can be proud of anywhere in the world.
And then there is a generation of patriotism - when looking at South Africans in the streets, people were proud to be South African. They were good hosts, who welcomed everybody and celebrated with everyone. They supported all the teams.
The third thing is the image makeover for our country. The image is different now. I remember before the World Cup, a majority of the European press was saying there are two things you must have in your luggage -- a bulletproof vest and a stab-proof vest. They said you must have these items because you are going to be mugged.
But when they left, the same journalists were saying this was the safest World Cup ever. You don’t see them writing about crime in South Africa anymore. That monkey on our backs since 1990 -- crime, crime, crime -- is gone.
Were your overall expectations met?
We always said it’s going to be the best World Cup ever and it got to the point where my family was saying I am repeating this thing too much. Every time I said the best ever, the best ever…. You know this theory that if you repeat something too often; everybody then starts to believe it. The level of confidence among the staff was high and they delivered.
I was very happy but of course great credit should go to the staff. Everyone who worked on this project was proud to be here and hours of work did not matter. It was no longer about starting at 8am them leaving at 4pm. No it was about the start of the project and the end of a project.
It was billed as an African World Cup, has the continent seen any benefits?
Well, I was voted African of the year in Nigeria, where all the countries from the continent were present at that banquet. They were all singing South Africa’s praises for presenting a new image of the African continent. Many of them said the story line has now changed; people are no longer talking crime and corruption but investment and trade.
The talk is no longer on charity, hand-outs and civil wars. You find that the people themselves are on the path to strengthening democracy. It’s not just a question of whether the governments will allow democracy or not. The people will not accept anything less than a democratic government in their countries. Things have changed on the continent and there are a lot of positive changes.
PART 2 TO FOLLOW ON FRIDAY