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Saddam, South African football fan
"We feel like we've been robbed"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 15:06 GMT
Cup decision stuns South Africa
Spectators in Pretoria
Many were taken aback at South Africa's failure
By Mohammed Allie in Cape Town

South Africa on Thursday turned back the clock to 4 September 1998, when there was massive disappointment at Cape Town's failure to secure the right to host the 2004 Olympic Games.

This time - amid even greater expectations that football's world governing body Fifa would bring the World Cup finals to Africa for the first time - the 24-member executive decided by 12 votes to 11 to give Germany the right to host the 2006 World Cup ahead of South Africa.



I thought we had already won - it is, after all, Africa's turn
  Joe Ramashana
The day began with great anticipation as two national television stations had live broadcasts from the main cities around the country where festive crowds had gathered from mid-morning in the build-up to the announcement by Fifa President Sepp Blatter, which was made at just after 1400 local time (1200 GMT).

One Cape Town radio station even invited callers to come up with ideas on how to generate income should South Africa win the right to host the World Cup in 2006.

There were wild cheers from the crowd of around 3,000 which had gathered in the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town, when Mr Blatter announced that South Africa had made it to the final round of voting at the expense of Morocco and England.

With everyone in the venue holding hands and crossing their fingers amid mounting tension and audible heartbeats, a deathly silence descended on a previously vibrant crowd when Mr Blatter announced that Germany had won.

Those who had come to celebrate well into the afternoon left immediately after hearing the news. Many were stunned that South Africa, built up as strong favourites by the local media, had lost.



I feel very, very disappointed
  Peter Koopman
"I don't feel good because I was expecting us to win. Our guys worked very hard and I thought we had a good bid. The way I saw things, I thought we had already won. It is, after all, Africa's turn," said Joe Ramashana, a resident from the local township of Guguletu.

"I feel very, very disappointed because so many people came out in numbers to celebrate," said Peter Koopman, who had taken off work to witness the announcement on the big television screen at the Good Hope Centre.

"Sport has united the people, and winning the World Cup bid could have opened up so many doors for us."

Weeping

Television pictures from Fifa headquarters in Zurich showed Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive of the South African Bid Committee, in tears after Sepp Blatter revealed the bad news.


Spectators in Pretoria
South Africans were tense with anticipation before the announcement
Mr Jordaan had worked tirelessly over the past two years to promote the South African bid, travelling to more than 50 countries in the process.

On hearing the result, President Thabo Mbeki, speaking on national television, congratulated Germany on its success. He expressed his disappointment that Africa had missed out again on hosting a major international sporting event, but paid tribute to the efforts of Mr Jordaan and his committee.

"The South African Football Association and the Bid Committee have made us proud as a nation. I would like to thank Danny Jordaan for the personal sacrifice he has made on behalf of all South Africans. Africa's time will come. Let us continue to learn. Next time we will win," Mr Mbeki said.

'We can't sulk'

Speaking at a news conference in Cape Town, Education Minister Kader Asmal took a more sober view of the result.


Spectators in Pretoria
The disappointment recalled South Africa losing the Olympic bid
"There's no doubt we must get the administration of our sporting codes in order," Mr Asmal said.

"But we can't sulk in this business - it's a very competitive world out there and we have to get back on our feet and start organising ourselves into a power block like the Europeans have obviously done."

"The alternative is to just look inwards and sulk and feel that the rest of the world owes us a living - the rest of the world doesn't owe us a living," he added.

According to estimates South Africa lost a potential R16,4 billion (about $2.44 billion) boost to the GDP which economists believed would have come from hosting the World Cup.

While the celebratory parties have been shelved many South Africans will instead be drowning their sorrows with the many litres of liquid refreshments they had intended for the celebrations.

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See also:

29 Jun 00 |  2006 World Cup decision
South Africa's campaign team
06 Jul 00 |  2006 World Cup decision
Germany win World Cup vote
06 Jul 00 |  2006 World Cup decision
Why South Africa's Cup bid failed
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