FIFA president Joseph Blatter has given South Africa high marks for its hosting of the 2010 World Cup, while also describing Spain’s hard-fought win over the Netherlands in the final as a victory for football.
“A big compliment to the people and the government of South Africa for all the guarantees that they have given and met,” Blatter told the tournament’s closing press conference in the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
“I would like to give a compliment to Africa as a continent as they have proven that they can organise this World Cup, they can organise a big competition.” When asked to rate South Africa’s running of the event out of 10, Blatter said after hosting last year’s Confederations Cup, he had awarded the country a 7.5 but that had now risen.
“I would say now they deserve a 9 out 10,” said Blatter.
“Perfection does not exist.” The head of football’s ruling body refused to comment on the tactics of the Netherlands in Sunday’s bad-tempered final at Soccer City when eight Dutch players were booked and John Heitinga sent off in the 1-0 loss to La Roja.
“It was not exactly what I have expected of fair play on the field,” he said, before adding that “finally we had a winner playing good football”.
Earlier in the tournament, Blatter apologised to Mexico and England for refereeing errors in their games but the 74-year-old ignored a request to issue a similar apology to Ireland over their elimination by France in qualifying courtesy of a handball by Thierry Henry.
He also refused to give an opinion on the performance of final referee Howard Webb, who also issued five yellow cards to Spanish players in a bruising final.
“It was a very hard task that the refereeing trio had on Sunday on the field of play,” said Blatter. They were not helped in this task.” As previously, Blatter called on football fans to accept what he called the “human aspect” of football.
“Would our game be perfect, would it be better if it was scientific, was only controlled by technology and science? he asked.
“This is football, we take note of all the comments that are made.
We live with the errors of players, the errors of referees. I don’t think that perfection exists in this world.” The next World Cup takes place four years from now in Brazil and with the Selecao automatically qualified as hosts, it remains unclear whether more than the current 4.5 qualifying places will be on offer for South American teams.
“The decision concerning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be taken at the appropriate moment,” said Blatter.
“The final decision will be made by the FIFA executive committee.” While eyes are already turning to the next World Cup, it was still South Africa’s moment in Johannesburg although events were overshadowed by the bomb attacks in Uganda that left scores dead.
“I am very sad and I was really, really very touched when I heard this news. Can you link it to the World Cup? I don’t know. We should know the background as to what happened in Uganda,” said Blatter.
“It is something that all human beings should condemn but the belligerent situations and fighting situations in our world cannot be the responsibility of any international institution.”
The FIFA boss concluded by praising national icon Nelson Mandela for his part in securing the World Cup for South Africa and for making a brief appearance at Sunday’s final.
“I met him for the fist time in 1992 and his dream at this time was already that once he would like to have the World Cup in his country,” he said.
“He wanted to be there on Sunday and to see that his dream came true.”
Keywords: 2010 FIFA World Cup