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President Zuma praises FIFA’s Warner

Monday, June 15 2009

FIFA vice-president Jack Austin Warner came in for high praise from South African President Jacob Zuma for his efforts in getting the 2010 FIFA World Cup to South Africa .

Zuma told Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, his nation owes him a debt of gratitude.

Warner arrived in South Africa yesterday to attend the opening ceremony of the Confederations Cup, a warm-up event for next year’s World Cup, which will be the first to be played on African soil.

The newly elected South African President welcomed Warner and his delegation to the Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg and lauded Warner for helping promote Africa as a host to major events.

“Without your efforts and personal intervention, none of this today would have been possible in South Africa.

“South Africa owes you a debt of gratitude,” he said.

FIFA officials have described the opening ceremony as a complete success, showcasing a colourful explosion of traditional African music, dance and song accompanied by the deafening cheers of thousands of football fans blowing trumpets.

On Friday, Warner was in Nigeria to meet vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr Goodluck Johnathan and several state governors.

Warner who is chairman of the FIFA Youth Committee, continues to monitor Nigeria’s preparations to host the Under-17 World Cup later this year.

During the last inspection of the African nation the CONCACAF president publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the level of progress being made. After Friday’s meeting, Warner explained that he has accepted guarantees from the Nigerian Head of State relative to security and safety for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, Warner also received guarantees from Nigeria for the completion of the selected venues on time.

In his capacity as youth committee head, Warner gave the Nigerians an additional 21 days added to the 30 they received originally for completion of the facilities.

Warner who had a big scare in a near light aeroplane crash on his last trip to Nigeria, plans to return there for a final inspection on July 26.

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