Can Daniel Alexander “Danny” Jordaan, the current president of the South African Football Association (SAFA), be the man to fix African football?
Time will tell.
Dr. Jordaan has had a remarkable career as lecturer, politician, businessman and anti-apartheid activist.
He led South Africa’s successful 2010 FIFA World Cup bid, the first successful one for Africa.
Dr. Jordaan had also led SA’s unsuccessful bid four years earlier for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He was also the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
He has served FIFA in numerous capacities, including, as a General Co-ordinator for the Youth World Cup (now FIFA U-20 World Cup), 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. He was also a match commissioner for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and a member of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee. He served on the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup Organising Committee.
As well as his involvement in football, Jordaan is also a member of the International Marketing Council.
Danny Jordaan was born on September 3, 1951 in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province, a city on the southeast coast of South Africa to Maxine and Alexandre Jordaan.
He became involved in anti-apartheid activities by joining the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) in the early 1970s, an organisation founded to defend the rights of Black students. Later, Jordaan also became a member of the United Democratic Front and the African National Congress (ANC).
Following his studies, Jordaan became a teacher in 1974. From 1970 to 1983 he was a provincial cricket and football player. In the latter sport, he achieved professional status for a brief period. His political and sport activities soon combined and he became an activist in various organizations fighting to break down racial barriers in sport.
From 1983 to 1992 he served as the president or vice-president of various soccer boards. In 1993 he was appointed as a director of the Cape Town Olympic Bid Company.
His political career also progressed; in 1990 he was elected as the chairperson of the ANC branch in Port Elizabeth North. After the first fully inclusive South African elections in 1994, he became a member of parliament for the ANC under the newly elected Nelson Mandela, a position he held until 1997.
In 1997, he was elected as the Chief Executive Officer of SAFA. He subsequently headed South Africa’s unsuccessful 2006 FIFA World Cup bid, narrowly losing out to Germany but gaining great respect internationally for his work. As a consequence, he also led South Africa’s 2010 FIFA World Cup bid, this time successfully so.
Jordaan has served on the marketing and television board of FIFA since 1998.
On 28 September 2013, Jordan was elected as the new president of SAFA, succeeding Kirsten Nematandani. He was elected ahead of Mandla Mazibuko by 162 to 88 votes from 52 regions.
Dr. Jordaan has a BA degree from the University of the Western Cape and an Honours degree from the University of South Africa. He received three honorary Doctorates from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (D.Phil), the University of South Africa (D. Admin), and one from his alma mater, the University of the Western Cape (D. Phil).
He received a special presidential award from President Nelson Mandela in 1994 as well as the presidential sport achievement award from President Thabo Mbeki in 2001. He won South Africa’s marketing person of the year award in 2000. In 2004, he was voted 44th in the Top 100 Great South Africans and newsmaker of the year. He received a mayoral award from the Mayor of Los Angeles, California on 24 October 2004. Jordaan has been given the freedom of the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. He has also received numerous awards from other South African cities.
Once a strong advocate for a sporting boycott against apartheid South Africa – “we cannot have normal sports in an abnormal society” – Jordaan served as a Member of Parliament under President Mandela before being appointed as Chief Executive of the SAFA in 1997.
Dr. Jordaan was instrumental in transforming the economy of South African football, raising revenue from the sport from US$3.2 million to US$35 million. When the great man led the country’s bid for the 2006 FIFA World Cup he gained invaluable experience for the country’s subsequent successful bid for the 2010 games, in-which he’s country successfully hosted.
He believes that football cuts across the boundaries that divided his country for so long – an argument borne out by the racial mix in the stands at Bafafa Bafana (SA Senior Men’s National Teams’) games.
“Soccer is the glue of the nation,” he said before the World Cup 2010. “We think a World Cup in our country would strengthen the non-racial character of society – a society that came from a past almost of war between Black and White. To take a nation at war with itself on a united path forward, you need major challenges and objectives, and the World Cup is one such objective. The rugby World Cup here contributed to that, a celebration of Black and White.”