"Let us all pray that God will bless the World Cup," said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa on May 24 as he launched a special prayer for the international soccer tournament.
"It is a short and simple prayer which is easy to learn, and I hope many people, of many backgrounds, will join me in praying it daily in the coming weeks," said Makgoba. "We are asking for the well-being of everyone who is in any way associated with the FIFA 2010 World Cup: players, spectators, South Africans as host nation, and everyone who travels here. Apart from the Olympics, this is the most widely supported sports event in the world -- countless millions, even billions, love 'the beautiful game' and we want to share this love with one another, for the good of the world."
Makgoba said that sport is potentially a tremendous catalyst for good. "Sport can bring people of different races and religions together, building the confidence of young people and promoting social cohesion, both within this country and across the whole human family."
This, he said, was probably the greatest and most lasting benefit that could be gained from the World Cup. "We do not know what long-term material improvements there will be to the average South African as a result of the tournament, though the infrastructure developments should lead to lasting gains," he said. "I hope it will be a catalyst for change in other ways, and also prompt the South African Football Association to set up better football education, training, and health clinics, for young boys and girls."
Makgoba, who will be attending the Algeria versus England match in Cape Town on June 18, said: "Most of all, I am praying for a good competition and entertaining football -- and for God's blessing on us all."
The archbishop's prayer reads:
God bless the 2010 World Cup:
bless those who compete, and those who watch,
bless those who host, and those who visit,
and help all who love the 'the beautiful game'
grow in the love you have given us to share. Amen