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Danny Jordaan's journey to World Cup boss

  • AP, Tuesday, February 16, 2010 5:07 PM

Danny Jordaan, CEO of South Africa's 2010 World Cup Organizing Committee, was once was an anti-apartheid activist campaigning to keep South Africa out of international sports. Now he's in charge of preparing his country to be the first on the continent to host the premier tournament of the world's most popular sport.

"I am a person who could not vote in this country," he said. "I had no right to represent this country because of the policies of this country. South Africa was isolated because of those policies. And now South Africa is a host and inviting the whole world to come here."

In the 1970s, Jordaan participated in campaigns for South Africa to be expelled from international sports federations including FIFA. Many believe the isolation in a sports-mad country helped turn white public opinion against apartheid, which ended in 1994. A year later South Africa celebrated its return to international sports by hosting and winning the rugby World Cup, highlighted in the recent film "Invictus."

Jordaan says that thanks to the infrastructure built or speeded up for the World Cup, South Africa will be able to attract more tourists, more high-profile events and more investment, Jordaan said. He added that he was confident the country would be ready by June 11, when the World Cup opens. The stadiums are complete and some already have hosted games, and most of the infrastructure is in place, he said.

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