Fifa President Sepp Blatter said portraying a country in the shape of a man heading a ball was a concept with potent symbolism.
“For me, football is all about emotion and passion, which is why I was particularly attracted to this poster. It invites the world to join in the celebration of the greatest football event on earth, while highlighting the pride and passion of the African continent and her people.
“It represents the African dream come true. South Africans made a good selection for the poster, which will represent their country all the way up to 2010.”
Fifa.com said the face on the poster represented every African football supporter, from Morocco in the north, Gambia in the east, Kenya and Ethiopia in the west to South Africa in the south.
“[It] is symbolic of the relationship between football and Africa, and captures a sense of excitement, awe and aspiration,” Fifa said on its website. “It also reflects the positive impact that World Cup will have on Africa. Africa is the hero of the official event poster.”
Danny Jordaan, South Africa’s 2010 Organising Committee chief executive, said the poster symbolises the important role of football in the history, tradition and culture of the African continent, and would serve as an inspiration for a better future.
“It recognises that Africa has a football face and a football heart,” he said.
From an original 16 creative entries, all submitted by South African-based agencies, three proposals were pre-selected for a public vote by South Africans which gave the nod to the design by agency Switch.
Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said in September that it was important for the people of the host country to have a final say in the choice of the official poster, which would represent the country up to the last whistle on 11 July 2010.
“I also want to congratulate the South African design industry on the creation of such wonderful artwork, all of which express the diversity and colourfulness of Africa in a symbiosis with the beautiful game,” he said at the time.