Today (Monday, 3 May 2010), a promise made in September 2008 by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and the 2010 Organising Committee (OC) became reality for 27,000 stadium construction workers as the symbolic hand-over of the first FIFA World Cup™ ticket took place at the iconic Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.
Organising Committee CEO Dr Danny Jordaan, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and Johannesburg’s executive mayor Amos Masondo attended the event to pay tribute to the efforts made in upgrading and building the ten world-class football arenas.
“We want to say a big thank you to the men and women whose hard work, skill and creativity brought us to the point we’re at today. It is amazing what you have achieved and we hope that you will enjoy your World Cup experience,” said Jordaan, who together with the FIFA Secretary General handed over the symbolic ticket to Patrick Geqeza, representing the construction workers who built and upgraded the tournament’s ten stadiums.
“I am really proud when I look at the work my fellow workers and I have done over the years. The chance to sit in the stadiums we have built for a World Cup match is a perfect reward, something we would have never imagined,” said Geqeza, who has been part of the reconstruction of the Soccer City stadium from day one.
The distribution of the tickets to workers will commence on 17 May when those eligible can collect them at the OC venue offices in the respective Host Cities (exact dates and pick-up venues attached). Each worker will receive two match tickets.
However, the Ticket Fund is not just about rewarding the construction workers. It is also aimed at having a wider impact on South African society. Hundreds of thousands of kids and adults across South Africa are benefiting from participating in one of the sustainable Ticket Fund programmes implemented by the FIFA Partners adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Kia, Sony and Visa. Of the 120,000 complimentary category 4 tickets, 66,000 are being allocated as a reward to South Africans in recognition of their contributions to these social and community programmes.
The FIFA Partner projects are focused on three key areas – education, health and the environment. Crucially, the Ticket Fund initiative will not end when the final whistle is blown on 11 July 2010. All the FIFA Partner projects are based on long-term partnerships that will continue to create opportunities for South Africans for years to come. For further details on the Ticket Fund projects, please visit FIFA.com at: http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/organisation/ticketfund/index.html.
Each participating FIFA Partner was represented at Soccer City today, with FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke commending their support for the initiative. “We have received great backing from our Partners on this project and already thousands of people across South Africa have participated in social development programmes, aimed at empowering them with the knowledge and skills to help shape their futures,” said Valcke, who also extended FIFA’s thanks to the construction workers.
For councillor Masondo, the event marked a special day: ”As we are standing here at Soccer City stadium, a venue that will host the opening and the final matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, I am so proud to say that this was done by these workers sitting in front of us. They have been involved in building some of the most impressive stadiums in Africa and indeed the world.”