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A total of 67,999 people from 170 countries had applied to volunteer for the 2010 FIFA World Cup when the applications closed at midnight last night.

During the application period from 20 July 2009 to 31 August 2009, an average of 1,600 applications were received a day.

“We would like to thank the thousands of people who applied to be volunteers. The programme has certainly proved to be hugely popular and we are honoured by the incredible response we have received from around the world,” said Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC), Dr Danny Jordaan in an official press release.

Applications were received for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Final Draw in Cape Town in December 2009 and the Football for Hope Festival in Alexandra which will run concurrently with the 2010 FIFA World Cup next year.

With two World Cup stadiums, Johannesburg came in with the most applications, receiving a total of 16,280 applications for Soccer City and Ellis Park. Tshwane/Pretoria (8,496), Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth (7.365), Cape Town (5,998) and Durban (5,148) came in close behind. Nelspruit (5,781), Polokwane (5,503), Mangaung/Bloemfontein (4,371) and Rustenburg (5,558) also had a good response.

There was a strong response from outside of South Africa with Nigeria producing the highest number of applications outside of the host country with 750 in total. The USA followed with 554 applications and Brazil was close behind with 489. Zimbabweans made 449 applications while Italy also managed an impressive total of 414.

Other African countries that saw a good response were Cameroon (375), Democratic Republic of Congo (109) and Lesotho with 106. The total applications for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 67,999, exceeds the 48,167 volunteer applications received for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

Providing administrative support for the tournament has proved to be the most popular functional area for applications, with 6,378 applications received. Other popular functional areas include hospitality and ushering services (5,537), Fan Park services (2,977) and information technology and telecommunications (2,753). In order to assist with hearing-impaired spectators, 83 volunteer hopefuls have applied to work in sign language support.

The next step is for the applications to be screened. The interview process then begins in December. Overseas volunteers will be interviewed by teleconference while host city interviews will be conducted simultaneously at venues in each city. Once the final selections have been made, the volunteers will then be trained in their respective fields before the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off.

OC Volunteer manager, Onke Mjo is happy that the application process ran smoothly and took the time to thank those that ensured the success of the application process. “We would like to sincerely thank all the Host Cities for their efforts, personnel and infrastructure that they provided for the volunteer access points.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) remains the greatest supporter of the programme. They provided youth centres across the country and trucks filled with laptops and personnel that travelled across the country to ensure that we reached all communities of South Africa in the volunteer drive,” said Mjo in the press release.

Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com

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