Former Safa CEO Paul looking forward to representing SA as COO of the 2022 Qatar World Cup

Russell Paul (CEO) of SAFA during the South African national soccer squad announcement at SABC Radio Park on October 29, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Russell Paul (CEO) of SAFA during the South African national soccer squad announcement at SABC Radio Park on October 29, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Russell Paul has said the position of COO of the 2022 Qatar World Cup was an opportunity to represent his country with pride that he could not turn down.

Paul leaves as acting CEO of the South African Football Association (Safa)‚ a position he has filled for a year‚ to take a top job in the next World Cup in the Middle East.

“The position I'm appointed to is one of chief operations officer at the World Cup‚ both from the Fifa and the Qatar side‚ and the overall responsibility is the event delivery itself‚” Paul said.

“And I think you guys [the media] know what that means – from accommodation to hospitality to VIPs to all the matches themselves‚ teams and IT‚ communications‚ TV broadcast. All those elements are there.

“So it’s quite a daunting task. But at the end of the day I think what makes you look forward to the challenge is that you know that you are representing your country more than anything else.”

Paul’s appointment comes on the back of his work done in the 2010 World Cup‚ where he was divisional manager of competitions‚ responsible for matches; and he also worked in the World Cups in Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018.

“When you’re dealing with these kind of events you make a lot of contacts. For me it was a bit of a call out of the blue to say‚ ‘Can you‚ can’t you‚ will you?’‚” he said.

“And it’s not an opportunity that you would want to miss. It takes me full circle from the fields of Lansdowne in Cape Town and Cape District [local football association]‚ on the other side to the lush meadows of World Cup field.

“It’s a great honour to serve your country from that perspective.”

Paul filled Safa’s acting CEO capacity from when previous permanent incumbent Dennis Mumble did not have his contract renewed in September 2018.

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