Secretary-General, in Johannesburg Remarks, Says World Cup ‘Triumph for Humanity’; Same Commitment, Teamwork Can Score Victory over Poverty

8 June 2010

Secretary-General, in Johannesburg Remarks, Says World Cup ‘Triumph for Humanity’; Same Commitment, Teamwork Can Score Victory over Poverty

8 June 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, in Johannesburg Remarks, Says World Cup ‘Triumph for Humanity’;


Same Commitment, Teamwork Can Score Victory over Poverty


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Sports for Peace Gala in Johannesburg, 8 June:

I am honoured to be with you this evening.

Honoured because of who you are: committed leaders and global citizens; committed to building peace through sport, through cinema, through education.

Thank you for your vision.  Thank you for your partnership in our common cause.

Let me begin by saying: There could be no better place for us to join forces.

Here on Constitution Hill, where the past is present.

So many great leaders passed through this place; so many great teachers.

Nelson Mandela.  Mahatma Gandhi.  Thousands of nameless others. 

Those imprisoned here taught the world about perseverance, non-violence, hope.

Now this is a new hilltop for justice and human rights.

Let me also say: There is no better time for us to meet.

We are days away from one of the biggest events in the history of this great continent.

I do not claim to be a sports expert.  But I can let you in on a secret.

I already know the winner of the World Cup.

The real victor is Africa and the great nation of South Africa.

President Zuma, I salute your leadership.

From favelas in Brazil to villages in the Middle East, to the neighbourhoods of Asian mega-cities — all eyes are on Africa.

I am proud to share in this historic moment — Africa’s moment.

At this moment, the world comes together.  Barriers disappear.  We speak the common language of sports.

What draws us here?

Yes, pride in the home team.  We root for our country!

And yes, we are drawn by the thrill of competition.

But that is only the beginning. 

I think we are drawn, even more, to what really counts.  Fair play.  Teamwork.  The human triumph of hard work. 

That is what we celebrate whenever a goal is scored.

That is why we celebrate all the teams — all the players — who compete for the World Cup.

Because whoever wins, we all win.  The World Cup is a triumph for humanity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In this sense, playing in the World Cup is like the work of the United Nations.

Ten years ago, world leaders came together to lay out some goals of our own.

We call them the Millennium Development Goals — the MDGs.

Eight goals for Africa.  Eight goals for the world.

It is a vision of a world where every person on earth has a fair chance:  Safe child birth; quality education; decent jobs; a clean environment; dependable health care; freedom from hunger; freedom from discrimination.

Tonight, my message is simple:  Let’s score the goals.

And ladies and gentlemen, that begins with education.

On the playing field of life, there is nothing more important than a quality education.

Today, 9 out of 10 children in the developing world are enrolled in primary education.  That’s the good news.

The bad news: 70 million children have never entered a classroom.  Half of them are here in sub-Saharan Africa.

In much of this part of the world, 1 out of every 4 children do not go to primary school.

The figure is twice as high for rural children.

Africa needs more teachers and more classrooms.

We must ensure that children start school and stay in school.

Above all, we must face the biggest obstacle to a child’s education:  poverty.

It helps to remember that all our goals are connected.

When we fight poverty, we promote education.

When we expand equality, we open the schoolhouse door for young girls.

Progress in any of the MDGs generates progress in all.

So let us commit, here and now, to score the goals.

As we cheer the teams on the football pitch, let us remember:  Achieving the MDGs is not a spectator sport.  It takes every one of us on the field.

I know we can do it. 

If we work together, we can score a victory over poverty.

We can defeat ignorance, discrimination and want.

We can ensure every man and woman, every girl and boy has an opportunity on the playing field of life.

Thank you for your commitment.

Together, we will score the goals for Africa’s future and our world.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.