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FIFA Hits Snags In Fulfilling World Cup Vow In Africa

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FIFA Hits Snags In Fulfilling World Cup Vow In Africa


FIFA Hits Snags In Fulfilling World Cup Vow In Africa

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Let's turn to an update on the World Cup, which was widely seen as a big success. It was a financial blockbuster for FIFA, the organization that governs world soccer. FIFA took in more than $3 billion, and it's pledged part of that money to develop soccer in Africa under a plan called 20 Centres for 2010. Anders Kelto reports from South Africa.

ANDERS KELTO: On the eastern edge of Cape Town is Khayelitsha, one of the largest and most dangerous townships in South Africa. The roads hum with the sound of minibuses and street vendors, and a group of men walk along the sidewalk, chanting a traditional Xhosa song.

Unidentified group: (Singing in foreign language)

KELTO: As part of its pledge to create a positive legacy for the World Cup, FIFA has committed 20 Football for Hope Centres around Africa. Each must include a soccer field, an educational space, and a health care facility. The first center was completed here in Khayelitsha last year.

(Soundbite of chanting)

KELTO: Today, a group of girls are playing soccer and learning about the dangers of HIV and AIDS through a program run by Grassroot Soccer. The bright green field and the girls' multicolored uniforms contrast sharply with the backdrop of brown gravel and wooden shanties.

Lunga Sidzumo is a community project coordinator at the center. He grew up here in Khayelitsha and he says the facility is making a huge difference in the community.

Mr. LUNGA SIDZUMO (Community Project Coordinator, Football for Hope Center): For the kids, it's a blessing for them. But if ever we don't have any event, they will be coming and nagging us, pushing us and arguing that, why there's nothing happening in the center, just because we are used to come to play in the Football for Hope Center?

KELTO: Lungsi Jere is a local coach and she also believes the facility is having a positive effect.

Ms. LUNGSI JERE (Soccer Coach): It's really changed so many kids' lives. Most especially, there are kids who are - who've chosen to play sport at the early age, because I think it just take them from negative things out there.

KELTO: FIFA has heavily advertised its 20 Centres for 2010 campaign, but they haven't advertised the fact that just four facilities, like the one in Khayelitsha, have actually been built, and only four more are under construction.

FIFA's head of corporate social responsibility, Federico Addiechi, says from Johannesburg that they have encountered some challenges, but he insists that the project is on time.

Mr. FEDERICO ADDIECHI (Head, Corporate Social Responsibility, FIFA): The goal for these 20 centers to be built was end of 2012. And we are probably three, four months behind schedule, but we are doing well in terms of the setup of the team.

KELTO: And while the 20 centers project has received a lot of attention, FIFA hasnt allocated as much money to the project as many might believe. The total cost of the centers will be around $10 million, which is roughly one-third of 1 percent of their revenues from the 2010 World Cup. And FIFA isn't running these facilities, they're just building them.

Kirk Friedrich, the managing director of Grassroot Soccer, says finding groups to administer the centers hasn't been easy.

Mr. KIRK FRIEDRICH (Managing Director, Grassroot Soccer): There aren't many organizations out there that are using football as a tool for social development and also have experience running youth centers. And it takes a bit of experience. It takes a bit of practice to know how to do it correctly. So it's not easy.

KELTO: But despite these setbacks, Addiechi claims that FIFA are trendsetters in the effort to use soccer as a tool for social development.

Mr. ADDIECHI: We are the first international sports federation to have established, back in 2005, a dedicated unit for social responsibility. You will not find this in the sports world.

KELTO: Back in Khayelitsha, a group of children gather around the field, waiting their turn to play. Kanya Moussa is a 6-year-old who lives up the street.

Do you ever come here and play soccer?

Mr. KANYA MOUSSA: Every day. We learn about good things. We learn about HIV and AIDS.

KELTO: Twelve-year-old Xiphisa Monsa says she loves Bafana Bafana, the South African men's soccer team.

Ms. XIPHISA MONSA: Well, my favorite is Tshabalala - Siphiwe Tshabalala from Bafana Bafana. Well, I like the way he plays, his styles, yeah.

KELTO: For many of these kids, soccer is providing a pathway to education and a healthier life. Having seen the World Cup in their own backyard, it's also providing them with big dreams.

For NPR News, Im Anders Kelto in Cape Town, South Africa.

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