The top brass of the World’s Governing Body of Football are all in South Africa attending the Senior Men’s World Cup, but despite the numerous dignitaries it is Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner, who is the most sought after by World Leaders.
At the Opening Ceremony of the World Cup at the Soccer City Stadium Friday, Warner received high praises from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The UN chief thanked the Senior FIFA Vice President Warner for all his efforts in bringing the World Cup to South Africa.
“Mr. Warner, you are an influential man, this event has untied a nation under one banner, football. There is hope again in South Africa," Ban told Warner.
Earlier this week at the Opening Ceremony of the 60th FIFA Congress in Johannesburg, Head of the Organizing Committee of the World Cup Dr Ivan Khoza publicly thanked Warner for efforts in ensuring that South Africa was given the opportunity to host the world tournament.
“We spent almost 7 hours in a meeting trying to convince Jack Warner we in South Africa can do it. Mr. Warner was open with his criticism but he gave us valuable advice.
"To this day it is unknown whether he voted for us but when one of the world’s most influential leaders in football speaks you must listen. Without you South Africa would have never been able to welcome the world," Khoza said.
It's not the first time that Warner has been credited for his actions in ensuring the FIFA 2010 World Cup is brought to South Africa Back in June 2009, President Jacob Zuma, also praised Warner for his efforts in getting the 2010 FIFA World Cup to South Africa.
The South African President stated, "Without your efforts and personal intervention, none of this today would not have been possible in South Africa. South Africa owes you a debt of gratitude".
In 2004, Former South African President and International Icon Nelson Mandela flew to Trinidad to hold talks with Warner in an attempt to solicit his support for his nation’s World Cup bid.
Warner promised then that he would have helped South Africa show the world what
“the great people and the nation can do despite any obstacles.”
Mandela did not attend Friday's opening because he was mourning the death of his great granddaughter in a traffic accident.