VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The soccer World Cup in South Africa has brought to the country a greater sense of communion with the international community and solidarity among the countries of Africa, says the archbishop of Durban.
“The first thing that I think that the World Cup in South Africa will leave is the sentiment that finally this country is part of the global community,” said Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier in comments over the weekend to Vatican Radio.
The World Cup ended today with the championship match, in which Spain won with a goal in extra time over Holland. The month-long sporting event, which takes place every four years, pits the world’s best national soccer teams in a head-to-head competition. The next World Cup will take place in Brazil in 2014.
“Soccer is the main sport of the majority of South Africans, especially the blacks. And for them, to have the World Cup in their country is significant for feeling connected with this being recognized by the international community,” Cardinal Napier said.
“Now,” he added, “the most important thing that must happen will be believing in ourselves, to see that we can do important things without expecting that it will be others doing it for us. For example, South Africa must show that it knows how to organize in other fundamental fields and sectors too, like instruction, health, etc.”
“Now it is our politicians’ responsibility,” the cardinal urged, “to have the will to accomplish with the same determination that which the World Cup did, to do it for their people, in the moment in which when the spotlight of the world is not on us.”
The new South Africa, Cardinal Napier explained, is “an idea,” and “a dream,” “a dream that has been realized in small part. For example, if I look back 50 or 60 years ago, it is still incredible to see a black person and a white person walking together. Today children and parents, whites and blacks, mix as if they have known each other all their life.”
“For me this is part of the dream that has become reality,” he added. “There is still a long road to travel, but thanks be to God we have evident signs that we can do it.”
For the cardinal, the world soccer championship has also had a positive effect on the rest of the African continent: “Just 2 years ago in South Africa we had a very negative experience of xenophobic attacks against other Africans, refugees who sought a better life with us and who were attacked by their brothers, other Africans.
“But the World Cup brought a sense of solidarity among the various African countries, who did not experience the world championship as an event only for South Africa but for all of Africa. This, I believe, did much for the unity of Africa, much more than could have been done by a lot of words from politicians.”