Fifa first heard of SA Tourism’s decision to resign from the advisory board of Match – the company tasked with arranging ticketing and accommodation for the 2010 World Cup – through the media.

Fifa media officer Delia Fischer said on Tuesday that the first Fifa had heard about SA Tourism’s decision to quit the board was through the media, which had quoted SA Tourism’s chief executive Moeketsi Mosola as saying that Match had attempted to “bully” smaller bed and breakfast establishments and independent hotels into dropping prices.

“We were taken by surprise by his remarks at yesterday’s (Monday’s) tourism conference,” said Fischer.

The Business Day newspaper on Tuesday quoted Mosola as saying: “Match, which is tasked to arrange accommodation and transport for 2010, is in effect a tour operator.

“Therefore, when Match started to use its powerful position to bully the rest of the industry, we could not be seen as being part of these tactics when we are mandated to serve the entire industry.

“It compromised our impartiality and I wanted to send a message to the industry that we are on their side.”

Mosola was speaking at the 7th Annual National Tourism Conference in Johannesburg on Monday.

Fischer said that SA Tourism had attended more than 50 workshops as a part of the Match advisory board and through all the meetings SA Tourism representatives had never raised any such concerns.

She declined to respond to his comments, saying that Match had to follow up the matter with SA Tourism on the nature of the problem.

She said the advisory board’s aim was to ensure that accommodation establishments received a fair price and that fans paid a fair price.

Fifa aims to have 55 000 precontracted rooms for the tournament and Match AG is the company appointed by Fifa to provide ticketing, accommodation and event information technology services to Fifa for the Fifa Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa, the Fifa Confederations Cup 2013 and the 2014 Fifa World Cup.

Match, based in the Swiss city of Zurich, is a joint venture of two professional service companies Byrom Plc – based in Manchester, United Kingdom – and Eurotech Global Sports AG – based in Appenzell, Switzerland.

Fischer said the advisory board included representatives of SA Tourism, South African Airways, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, Safa CEO Raymond Hack, the CEO of SA’s 2010 World Cup organising committee Danny Jordaan, the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa, the country’s environmental affairs and tourism ministry as wells as the sports ministry. – Sapa

DATED: 4th November 2008