Fifa President Sepp Blatter has declared football to be a global force with the power to influence the world’s political elite.
The 74-year-old also believes that the beautiful game can help us all become “better human beings”.
With the tournament now entering its final few days, ahead of the final on July 11, a steady stream of world leaders have been photographed alongside Blatter during the tournament, including former US President Bill Clinton, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British princes William and Harry.
Football has certainly taken centre stage around the globe during the past month, and Blatter is evidently delighted that the game’s appeal is now so widespread.
“I am a very happy president today and I hope I will be happy until the very end of this week,” he declared. “There is a political dimension to football too – how many heads of states have come to visit South Africa, and they all want to make sure they have the pictures taken in the stands. That’s the power of football. Football gives emotions in this deranged world. Look at the news and you see the world appears to have suddenly stopped and the TV cameras will after July 12 be used everywhere else in the world.”
South Africa has also benefitted from the tournament, with spectator numbers higher than originally anticipated.
“More than 500,000 fans will have come to South Africa and some are talking about the figure being even higher,” Blatter revealed. “The forecast from ‘old Europe’ was the fans wouldn’t come – well here they are. We are giving hope to the world that perhaps through football we can become better human beings.”