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Brussels, 8 June 2010

Message of President Barroso ahead of the start of the FIFA World Cup on 11 June 2010

President Barroso conveyed the following message during the visit in Addis Ababa on 8 June at the occasion of the European Commission's meeting with the Commission of the African Union:

"The hearts of millions of people around the world will start beating faster on 11 June when the Football World Cup begins in South Africa.

I am particularly pleased that it is for the first time that an African nation hosts the World Cup.

Like every supporter, I will be cheering on my team and hoping that we have one of the most entertaining tournaments with free flowing football and fair play. And I hope that we see the massive progress that African nations have made in being a real force in the beautiful game.

But beyond my passion for the sport, I am convinced that football is more than a sport: it is a universal language, a language that helps people from different cultures and backgrounds to unite.

Borders of culture, of language and of nationality will be forgotten thanks to the World Cup.

I am sure that South Africa and the whole African continent will make the best out of it. As the eyes of the world turn to South Africa, I sincerely believe that after the World Cup, the country will go from strength to strength. This legacy will not only see major improvements in the country's infrastructure. What I sincerely hope is that a sense of pride and confidence will embrace the country and the continent. South Africa is a stunning country, rich in tradition, culture and vibrancy. Football is above all about hope. It is the perfect platform for South Africa's future which it should grasp with both hands.

I wish South Africa and the African continent success, and for all those that watch enjoyment, excitement and above all fun."

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