MASERU — The Fifa World Cup trophy arrives in Lesotho tomorrow on its last leg of an African tour which began in Egypt on September 24.
A chartered plane will bring the trophy to Maseru accompanied by Fifa and 2010 Local Organising Committee officials, as well as senior executives from tour sponsors, the Coca-Cola Company.
The trophy — solid 18-carat gold, measuring 36.8cm high and weighing 6.175kg — has already been to 52 African countries, with fans being afforded the lifetime opportunity of a close-range view and having their pictures taken while holding football’s most prestigious prize.
In Lesotho, the trophy will first be presented to King Letsie III and the media before being taken to ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre for public viewing on Tuesday.
Only 2 000 fans with Coca-Cola-sponsored tickets and VIPs will be allowed the rare chance of being taken photos holding the trophy.
“Lesotho will host the Fifa World Cup trophy — the world’s most-covered sports icon and symbol of football supremacy — from November 30 to December 1, 2009,” read part of a statement in Lesotho’s Cabinet Bulletin Volume 1, Issue 4.
The Lesotho Brewing Company, which distributed the tickets, said Basotho had shown immense interest in the trophy tour.
“Last Friday, we released 800 tickets to be won and only 100 were returned,” a company official, Moeko Maboee, told the Sunday Express.
“That being the case, it shows people are very interested in viewing the trophy and being photographed holding the biggest prize in world football.”
Maboee said he was confident all 2 000 tickets would have been taken by the time of the trophy’s arrival tomorrow.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter, meanwhile, said the tour — which started at the organisation’s headquarters in Zurich on September 21 — sought to fire enthusiasm among football fans worldwide.
“Through this event, we are really engaging football fans on a global scale; giving them the unique opportunity to have their picture taken with the most prestigious prize in world football and to embrace the excitement surrounding the Fifa World Cup,” Blatter said.
Coca-Cola chief executive officer Muhtar Kent said his company was ploughing back into the community by supporting this tour.
“Our programmes to support the 2010 Fifa World Cup, such as the Trophy Tour, will leave a lifelong impression on consumers that helps reinforce loyalty and preference for our business and brands,” Kent said.