His bushy hair and greying beards have become his trademark. After presiding over the World Cup that has gone down in FIFA history as the most successful to date, Danny Jordaan needs no introduction. Jordaan is a South African sports administrator as well as a former lecturer, politician and anti-apartheid activist. He has been on the marketing and television boards of FIFA since 1998. He has also served FIFA as a General Co-ordinator for the Youth World Cup, 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan.
Yet, his unassuming personality, rather than diminish his credential, has continued to endear him to all that love the beautiful game around the world.
In an interview at the five-star InterContinental Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, along with four other international journalists from Russia, Qatar, Zambia and Kenya, who were in the country on the invitation of Brand South Africa, Jordaan came across as a man, who enjoys what he does --serving South Africa. Despite pursuing in vain the hosting right for the 2006 World Cup that Germany snatched from South Africa, he never gave up.
Through his efforts and others, South Africa won the hosting right of the 2010 edition which has become the benchmark of how to do things right. Now, Brazil, Russia and Qatar are under pressure to either match what the South Africans have done or up the ante. Although he will not fail to let you know that the greatest ambassador of the African continent, Nelson ‘Mandiba’ Mandela’s influence played a significant role in swaying the pendulum in South Africa’s favour. Jordaan also has kind words for countries like Nigeria who pulled out of the race ‘in the interest of the best candidate from Africa’ to secure the ticket’.
He insisted that the greatest victory for Africa was not that South Africa created record with the highest net profit of $3.5 billion for FIFA as against the $2.7 billion from Germany in the 2006 edition, the event has succeeded in changing the perception of the world towards Africa. DURO IKHAZUAGBE was there.
Several African players in Europe and elsewhere are being lifted out of poverty through what they are earning from soccer. How have they contributed to making life better in the continent?
If you look at what the Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Michael Essien, etc earn in one year in Europe and elsewhere, it will amaze you. This is direct foreign investment in Africa. By the time you add the hospital that (Nwankwo) Kanu and Drogba are building in their respective towns to take care of ailments that ordinarily would have require more money elsewhere, you will realize that they are doing great for Africa. As we know it here in Africa, a family does not end with you, your wife and kids.
It includes uncles, aunts, sisters and brothers and other members of the extended family. That is the way we are. Their impacts are underestimated. If I ask you to give me ten names of heroes of the African continent, chances are that 80 per cent of the people you will mention are going to be football personalities. In the period of the liberation struggle in South Africa, if you ask the same question in my country (South Africa), what will readily come to mind is Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Thambo, etc. But after 1994, you may probably find only Mandela on the list because of the changing tide transformations that have taken place. You can hardly find politicians on the list of heroes anymore. Those you see dominating now are footballers and other sports personalities.
I can very well recall when we went to unveil Mac Vivien Foe’s Foundation in Cameroun. I went with Abedi Pele, George Weah and others. We couldn’t get out of the airport in Yaounde when the people heard we were coming. We got stuck in the airport for hours until we had to call in the army to clear the way for us to get out of the airport. Now, let any president go to Cameroun and see if the people will accord him or her such a reception of acceptance.
Of course, we know that politicians sometimes organize such crowd to make themselves look accepted but what we are talking about is spontaneous reaction like the people do for sports personalities. Again, let your people know that Messi of Barcelona is coming to your country tomorrow and see the reactions that will follow at the airport. I don’t want to talk about politicians but if they jam at the airport with Messi, you know who the people are going to clamour to see and touch.
Our footballers must realize their potentials and use such to help growth in the continent. But unfortunately, you see African players come from poverty to great wealth and return to poverty at the end of their career. It happens in Zambia, Congo, most of West Africa and the rest of the continent. They move from stupendous affluence during their active years into poverty when they retire or stop playing due to injuries. What we need to do is to educate our players and youngsters that football is not alternative to education. We need to let them know that with education, you can plan your life after football.
Take for instance you are a fighter pilot and a footballer, if you retire at 35 years, you can plan how to spend the next 30 years or thereabout. But unfortunately, most of our footballers do not have the skill to do so and end up in poverty again. This is one challenge that African footballers are faced with.
How are the facilities used for the 2010 World Cup managed now?
In our country, the situation is different from what obtains in Europe. You must realize that football fans in Africa are poor. So even when you have full stadiums, the revenues are small. The fans want to pay 10 Rand, 2 dollars or N200 to watch matches. So, to balance the books, almost 80 per cent of our stadium revenues come from the commercials on match days. It is so almost in the entire African continent. But in our country, we are lucky to be big in rugby. When fans go to football matches here, they pay 20 Rand but in rugby, the cheapest ticket is 300 Rand and they can afford it.
There are several competitions almost all the year round. So for the FNB Stadium, which you also call the Soccer City, several hospitality suit also compliments what comes in from the gates. But the story is not the same with those in Limpopo and Nelspruit.
When we built these facilities, most of the teams were in the Premier league. The stadiums were built with the mind that these teams in the Premier League will make maximum use of these facilities but unfortunately, we have situations where some of the teams have dropped out of the elite class and the facilities are now underutilized. The impact is great on expected revenues. And so, stadium management is a difficult ball game.
But the Soccer City is an exception, because Orlando Pirates and Sundown are using it for their matches. I must tell you that each time they play, the stadium is always full. We also use it for finals of most competitions. Even in off seasons, their competitions always going on there like the Vodacom, MTN ABSA and several competitions almost all year round. The national team, Bafana Bafana, also play there. I must tell you that when Bafana wins, the 94,000 capacity appears small for the fans to troop into for their next game but if they lose, you will be lucky to get 20,000 fans there. They are the typical African fans who go to stadium dancing and singing. If they leave the stadium like mourners, it will take more convincing performance to attract them back for another round of dancing and singing.
The resilience of the African fan is amazing. Today they go home, broken in spirit by the defeat but you will be surprised to see the same fans in high spirit, dancing and singing, hoping for the best from their teams again. Football is something that touches the spirit of, we, Africans and have accepted it so.
Do you accept naming rights of stadiums as integral part of revenue making?
Absolutely! The naming right of the stadium is a major source of revenue. So attract as much as $20m per year, depending on its importance. If you recall, there was a national debate here in South Africa over what to call the FNB Stadium during the ongoing 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. It was a big debate because, sometimes, the right holder may be different from the sponsor of the competition.
For the 2013 AFCON, the event sponsor is Standard Bank and they insisted that they cannot put in their money in a competition to be played in a rival brand (First National Bank) named facility. That was why an agreement was reached that for the period of the competition, the facility will be called simply as National Stadium. Other sources of making money apart from the naming rights include the hospitality suits, perimeter branding on match days, and the several commercial opportunities on the offering.
Are there plans to give out the facilities to the cities hosting these World Cup stadiums?
I am not sure because apart from the ones in Johannesburg and Cape Town, all the others are owned by the cities. They asked stadium operators to take and operate. But the stadiums are not outsourced. They were 100 per cent built by the government. Like in England, the stadium that is used by Manchester City today was built by the government and used for the Commonwealth Games. It is so all around the world.
Have you thought of giving out these stadiums to the clubs as permanent home grounds?
You see, at times, politics defy logic. The problem is that there is emotional attachment to stadiums. And sometimes people become emotional. Look at the old Wembley Stadium in England, for instance. England won the World Cup there in 1966. People were against knocking it down even if it was old and not commercially viable.
It took five years for people to agree that it be given to the FA for renovation work to begin. In South Africa we have in Cape Town, the Newland Stadium. History is attached and people are emotional about the place. There are so many places like that around the world. Sport has a strong emotional, superstition around them, like you must not allow your opposition go into your dressing room and all that stuff. It is emotions like these that affect what to do with stadium facilities.
After what South Africa has done with the World Cup, do you see your country hosting the Olympic Games in the next 20 years?
Before 2010, all the World Cup, the Olympics and major global sports were hosted by the developed countries. Developing countries had no chance. We and Nigeria were in the race to host the 2010 World Cup. We sat with Nigeria and asked them to allow us. We were happy when Nigeria accepted and cooperated with us for the bidding for the 2010.
After 2010, there was not even a single one that said they were against the World Cup coming to Africa. In fact, the biggest revenue of $3.5m and a reserve of more than $1m was realized in South Africa. In Germany, it was $2.7m. It is amazing because most people warned FIFA to braze up for financial loses for taking the World Cup to Africa. And for 100 years, that argument held sway. And all of a sudden, you no longer find anyone arguing in that way anymore after the 2010 World Cup.
We were in the same situation in this country. We were determined to succeed and God used the World Cup to shift how the rest of the world looks at us in Africa. Now, Africa is the emerging economy. Now it is Brazil, Russia and Qatar. Jacque Roggue, the President of the International Olympic Committee said in Durban that it is time that the Olympic comes to Africa. I think we have changed the perception of how developed world looked at us in Africa and developing economies. Not just South Africa but the developing economies. 22 of the fastest growing 25 economies in the world are from Africa.
What do you think your country have to attract the Olympics to South Africa?
I think it is our infrastructure to host the Olympic. The most important thing also is the capacity. You heard all the stories about the World Cup that some of the matches are not going to hold and other negative stuffs. But were hosted all the 64 matches as scheduled with no break in transmission or any incidence disrupting any of the matches. Where did we have any disruption?
In Vienna Austria during the European Championship semi final match, in a Europe not Africa! Why did two countries hosted and not one? Italy hosted twice, France twice, Germany twice, England twice but most of the rest do not have the capacity in the west. Now, Russia has succeeded in her argument to allow it come to Eastern Europe. So why think Africa lack the capacity to host.
When I was in Luanda, Angola, I met a trade delegation from Portugal. They were in Africa to source for investor in Portugal. The game has changed and international federations must realized that there are emerging economies that should be treated with dignities. India, China, Brazil, Nigeria are some of these economies. In Africa, Zambia and others are doing well.
Do you know where the last World Economic Summit took place? In Ethiopia! So, you cannot have the Olympic in existence since 1869 and continue to have people think Africa cannot host it. It is not proper. FIFA has proved us right. I think it is time Africa is given the chance.
After all you have done for South African football, are you still interested in moving higher like running to manage the game as CAF president?
Yes, I am running for CAF Presidency at the elections in Marrakech, Morocco. I am presenting myself for the office. If I am found good enough for the job, so be it. I know I have the experience to give African football a new phase and direction.