Glittering World Cup draw ceremony kicks off in Cape Town (1st Lead)
By Clare Byrne Dec 4, 2009, 16:44 GMT
Cape Town - The nail-biting final draw for the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa got underway on Friday evening at a glittering African-themed ceremony in Cape Town attended by the cream of world football and South Africa's elite.
The draw which will determine the composition of the eight groups that will compete in the first round of the tournament kicked off with a song from 'White Zulu' popstar Johnny Clegg and a pre-recorded message from South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela, who was instrumental in winning the Cup for South Africa.
'In Africa, soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in the hearts of people. This is why it is so important that the FIFA World Cup will for the first time ever be hosted on the African continent in 2010.
Mandela said South Africans were 'privileged and humbled' to be given the 'singular honour' of hosting the tournament.
'We must strive for excellence in our hosting of the World Cup while at the same time ensuring that the event will leave a lasting benefit to all our people,' Mandela said, drawing a parallel between Africans' long struggle for freedom with their long wait to host the World Cup.
'Ke nako, it's time,' Mandela, who wore one of his trademark patterned African shirts, said.
President Jacob Zuma said he believed the world was going to be surprised, predicting that the World Cup would remain in Africa.
'It is exciting, we are very proud as South Africans, as well as for the continent,' said Zuma.
'We are on time, everything has gone according to plan and we believe that the world is going to be surprised because this cup that has come to Africa. At the end of the tournament it will remain here in Africa.'
Blatter described the World Cup coming to Africa as 'a love story' as well as a story of football.
'The World Cup is here and the World Cup will not only bring in the best places but it will also bring a recognition of Africa,' he said.
Zuma and Blatter were addressing around 2,000 invited guests at the ceremony being jointly hosted by South African film star Charlize Theron and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke.
The coaches of most of the 32 countries that have qualified for the Cup have travelled to Cape Town for the draw, which is also being attended by Cape Town's two Nobel peace laureates, Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu and former president F W de Klerk.
Former England captain David Beckham was greeted with lusty cheers and the blow of the vuvuzelas (plastic trumpets blown by football fans) as he passed under an arch designed to look like a tunnel into the city's iconic Table Mountain and strode the red carpet.
Zuma and Blatter arrived together, preceded by a group of Zulu dancers and drummers in leopard skin vests and cowhide skirts.
Security was tight for the event, which is being secured by over 1,000 police with support from the military.
A few streets away over 10,000 Capetonians thronged a Fan Fest, where the draw was being shown on giant screens.
The draw is being broadcast in over 200 countries and is expected to garner an audience of close to 200 million people.
South Africans are crossing their figures for an 'easy' draw that would boost the lacklustre host side's chances of advancing to round two.
The popular, lofty goalkeeper of the national team Bafana Bafana, Matthew Booth, said he was would like to 'at least avoid the top teams.'