world cup tour takes in Africa

ON MAY 15 2004 Fifa president Sepp Blatter announced in Zurich that South Africa would host the finals of the Soccer World Cup in 2010.

ON MAY 15 2004 Fifa president Sepp Blatter announced in Zurich that South Africa would host the finals of the Soccer World Cup in 2010.

Television footage showed Nelson Mandela, Irvin Khoza, Danny Jordaan, heavyweights in politics and the business world rejoicing over the achievement that erased memories of the failed 2006 bid.

Khoza and Jordaan, the brains behind both bids, drew wisdom and courage from Mandela to soldier on. Mandela was behind their every move until the announcement of the winning bid.

South Africa won by 14 votes to 10, beating Morocco. Tunisia withdrew in May 2004 while Libya's bid was rejected because it did not meet the list of requirements.

This is the first ever Fifa Soccer World Cup to be staged in Africa.

Obviously not all African countries will be represented here next year so Coca-Cola, the soft drinks company that is one of the tournament's chief sponsors, has taken up the challenge of ensuring that African countries get to see the trophy, with a World Cup Tour to 86 countries.

The trophy will travel 134017km and visit every nation in Africa.

It has already been to countries such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Mali, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Equatorial Guinea.

Yesterday it was in Sao Tome. Coca-Cola has enabled thousands of fans to enjoy a rare close-up view of the sport's biggest prize. The trophy has always been welcomed with songs of jubilation.

The World Cup trophy will arrive in Cape Town on December 1 with the draw for the tournament taking place three days later.

After it has completed its tour of Africa, the trophy will be taken to 31 countries across the globe and be brought back here in May before the World Cup kicks off in June.

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