SOUTH African Football Association vice-president Danny Jordaan has tried to allay fears Nelson Mandela Bay will not be able to host the upcoming Afcon Cup due to financial constraints, saying the city should embrace its selection as a host city.
Amid fears the metro’s financial situation cannot handle preparations to host the event in January, Jordaan said a plan should be made to come up with about R20-million needed.
Addressing businesspeople on aspects of leadership at the Herald Business Breakfast at the Summerstrand Hotel on Friday, Jordaan said the tournament "cannot bankrupt Nelson Mandela Bay”.
"We know there are serious financial constraints, but we must see how we can come together for a solution – and that solution is about R20-million,” he said.
"Afcon is going to be played here, it is confirmed that the city is a host city and as people of this city, we must embrace it and support it.”
The fears around the hosting of Afcon, which will be the biggest international soccer tournament to be hosted in the city since the 2010 Fifa World Cup, stem from the multimillion-rand deficit left by the soccer spectacular two years ago.
During the World Cup, the metro was due to have forked out R340-million towards the event, but ended up paying R878-million, which plunged it into a financial crisis.
"The challenges of this city are no different from those of other cities. The reality is that since 2008, the economic base of cities, whether [they hosted] the World Cup or not, has shrunk. The revenue they projected is not being realised,” Jordaan said.
He said South Africans’ general attitude towards the tournament was of serious concern as people all over the continent were sceptical that South Africa would support it and pull out all the stops as they did for the World Cup.
He said the notion that European matches deserved high ticket prices, with the opposite ringing true for African teams, added to the perception that South Africans believed they were not part of the African continent. "The continent says ‘watch those South Africans. They fell over their feet because that World Cup came from Europe. Watch when we come, that man from Motherwell will not come because we are Africans and they are not’,” he said.
"This is a serious accusation and it is a question we have to address.”
Jordaan told how, during preparations for the World Cup, naysayers predicted doom as Africa was due to host the world’s biggest soccer tournament, and reputable international leaders helped change those perceptions. "World leaders helped shift the world perception of Africa, hence the global mind shift,” he said.
He said South Africa’s leaders should not underestimate the power of collaboration. "Leaders should not seek victory over one group, which gives rise to factions, but seek victory and triumph for the collective.”