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South Africa leader says 2010 is year of football

December 31, 2009

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JOHANNESBURG—South Africa's president says hosting the World Cup will make 2010 the country's most important year since apartheid ended in 1994.

In a New Year's message released Thursday, Jacob Zuma says South Africa already has reaped benefits ahead of the football tournament next June and July.

He says construction work to build new stadiums and roads has helped reduce the impact of the global recession.

Zuma says that South Africans must ensure long-lasting benefits for the nation.

South Africa will be the first African country to host the biggest event for the world's most popular sport. At least half a million visitors are expected.

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