Zuma: World Cup has inspired Africans

JOHANNESBURG - The World Cup has inspired Africans and could be a stepping stone toward the first Olympics on the continent, South African President Jacob Zuma said.

In an interview with FIFA at his presidential residence in Pretoria, Zuma said the successful tournament had sparked economic development and proved the developing continent was capable of managing a world event.

"I think we have proved that not only South Africa, but Africa is capable of hosting any major event," Zuma was quoted as saying on the governing body's website.

The government has spent about 40 billion rand ($5.17 billion) on infrastructure projects, and billions more on upgrading roads and airports.

A successful hosting of this year's World Cup by South Africa could spur a bid for the first African Olympics, Zuma told Reuters last week.

"People are already talking about a possibility of bidding for major events and we are supporting this. The Olympics are an example, I don't see why we can't bid to host the Olympics in the future. It's important for Africa," he told FIFA.


International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge last week offered encouragement to Africa for an Olympic bid, strengthening the possibility of South Africa being a host.

Cape Town was the first African city to bid for the Olympics but was trounced in the vote for the 2004 Games that were awarded to Athens.

Durban, which markets itself as Africa's sports capital, has expressed an interest in hosting a future Games and built its new World Cup stadium with enough space to add an athletics track.

When asked what legacy he wanted the World Cup to leave for South Africa's children, Zuma told FIFA:

"It has taken the economic development to a different level. One of the important things for Africa is education and programmes like 1Goal (FIFA'S education programme) are playing a vital role - that is legacy.

"This tournament has inspired Africans."

The South African President would not be drawn into speculating who will win the World Cup when teh final takes place on July 11 at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

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