Free tickets for construction workers
The dreams of 27,000 construction workers in South Africa have come true as FIFA and the World Cup Organising Committee (OC) have kept their promise to give each employee two complimentary, category-four tickets to a first round match at the stadium they helped build.
The handover took place at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday, where a symbolic ticket was presented to the workers en masse. They will be able to collect their individual tickets from one of the eleven centres in the country from May 17.
The event was attended by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and OC chief executive Danny Jordaan, who both paid tribute to the workers. Jordaan expressed the OC's gratitude to the men and women who have worked for almost five years to build and upgrade stadiums.
"We want to say a big thank you to the men and women whose hard work, skill and creativity brought us to the point we're at today," Jordaan said. "It is amazing what you have achieved and we hope that you will enjoy your World Cup experience." The symbolic ticket was presented to Patrick Geqeza, who is part of the team that built Soccer City. Geqeza has been an employee at the site since the first day and was elected as the workers' representative. "I am really proud when I look at the work my fellow workers and I have done over the years," he said. "The chance to sit in the stadiums we have built for a World Cup match is a perfect reward, something we would have never imagined." The ten stadia, which Valcke described as "beautiful", are all complete ahead of the mid-May handover to FIFA, despite some delays because of construction worker strikes. Jordaan congratulated the staff on "delivering", particularly because South Africa's readiness for the tournament has been under scrutiny since they were announced as hosts. There have been 54,000 tickets set aside for the construction workers, including just over 400 for the opening match between hosts South African and Mexico on June 11. They form part of the FIFA Ticket Fund that will be distributing 120,000 tickets in all.
The remaining 66,000 tickets are being awarded to South Africans who have been involved in community and social programs across three spheres: education, health and environment. These projects are set to continue even after the tournament is complete.