World soccer governing body FIFA has stated that it took no offence at the absence of President Rupiah Banda from the unveiling ceremony of the FIFA World Cup trophy on its Zambian leg of the tour last Sunday.
FIFA World Cup Trophy tour delegation spokesperson Emmanuel Maradas said the organization was saddened to see a report in Tuesday’s edition of The Post stating that FIFA was upset with the president’s absence, forcing the organizers to deny Vice-President George Kunda a chance to remove it from its glass sealing.
“It is sad to hear this news. We apologise to the Zambian Government for this. As FIFA, we were quite happy with our function in Lusaka . We thank the Government for unveiling the trophy,” said Maradas who led the team that brought the trophy to Lusaka .
He added in an interview from London that there was nothing wrong with President Banda’s unavailability from the ceremony held at Hotel Inter-Continental in Lusaka as it was not the first time that a head of State had been absent from the tour event. The World Cup trophy tour had not been attended by heads of State in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Botswana
While it was true that the World Cup trophy was only touched by heads of State and former winners, FIFA did not compel Government officials to be present when it was being unveiled.
It was “sheer imagination” that FIFA and Coca Cola were unhappy with Banda for missing the event despite his being in the country when the trophy reached Zambia .
“There’s no one from FIFA who talked to these journalists. The story was totally wrong. It was just their imagination. The vice-president was there and we were quite happy with that. None of us or any of our partners from Coca Cola was unhappy,” Maradas said.
The report in The Post stated that as a result of Banda’s absence from the unveiling ceremony, Coca Cola had since resolved to give a second look to its sponsorship of Zambian football.