Most workers have been with the project
since its inception.
A symbolical ticket was presented to the
workers. (Images: Bongani Nkosi)
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A promise has been kept, and the construction workers who built the monumental stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup are now getting tickets to some of the tournament’s most important matches, for free.
The 27 000 men and women who helped build or overhaul the 10 host stadiums will each receive two tickets to a match. Soccer City workers will get to see the South Africa’s national squad Bafana Bafana battle it out against Mexico at the opening match, to be held in the calabash-shaped stadium on 11 June. Tickets to this match were already sold out when over-the-counter sales opened on 15 April.
The tickets are part of Fifa and its partners’ Ticket Fund scheme, which will distribute 120 000 free tickets to South Africans.
The workers’ free was a promise Fifa President Sepp Blatter made in September 2008. “We’re happy that Fifa and the LOC have kept their promise,” said Patrick Geqeza, a shop steward for Soccer City’s National Union of Mineworkers-affiliated workers.
Geqeza and his fellow workers have been given letters which will allow them to redeem their tickets from 17 May. “The chance to sit in the stadiums we have built is a perfect reward,” he said.
LOC CEO Danny Jordaan encouraged the workers to support the South African team. “You [will] be part of the show on that day,” he said. “You must come make noise for Bafana Bafana.”
Enjoying the match with loved ones
Nobuntu Mbali of Freedom Park has been working at the stadium since January 2009, and will watch the much-anticipated opening match with her husband. “I’m excited that I will get to see Bafana Bafana playing in the stadium I built,” she said.
Sandra Mdluli from Kagiso, a township in Mogale City, couldn’t afford to buy a ticket and is thankful to Fifa, she said. “I wouldn’t have the money to buy the tickets. My heart would hurt if I were not to see South Africa playing in the stadium I built.”
Mdluli has been part of the Soccer City project since August 2008. It is long-term workers like her that the scheme is targeting. It prioritises with those that have been with the construction projects the longest, while those who were employed about six months ago unlikely to get a ticket.
The reconstruction of Soccer City is a joint venture between Grinaker-LTA and Interbeton, a Dutch company.
‘They built beautiful stadiums’
Jordaan said the workers deserve to be recognised for the splendid work done since 2007, building celebrated arenas like Soccer City, Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit and the others.
“The world can see what you’ve built. [They’re] not just stadiums, but monuments for our country,” he said. “You’ve made us proud.”
Fifa general-secretary Jerome Valcke also praised the workers, and their work. “You have built beautiful stadiums and we’re amazed,” he said.
The workers themselves expressed pride in the stamp Soccer City makes in the landscape. The 91 500-seater stadium stands on a rise, silhouetted against the sky, next to mine dumps and near a busy road to Soweto – a stunning view.
“I am really proud when I look at the work my fellow workers and I have done over the years,” said Geqeza.
Ticket Fund is wide-ranging
The Ticket Fund is a partnership between Fifa and six of its 2010 World Cup sponsors. The sponsors are behind projects that protect the wellbeing of South African communities, and in turn supply participants with match tickets.
Coca-Cola is distributing 20 000 tickets through its Give it Back recycling campaign. The nationwide campaign involves learners collecting and recycling plastic bottles.
KIA Motors is offering 4 000 tickets through a programme combining street soccer and health education. The company partnered with Sporting Chance, a development organisation, to reach out to some of disadvantaged communities in the country.
Sony, distributing 15 000 tickets, is focussing on a campaign that highlights HIV/Aids using football. Adidas will also donate 15 000 tickets to learners through its national arts competition. Visa is running a financial literacy programme in the country, and will give 5000 tickets to ordinary South Africans.