Just what the blazes is going on at the 2010 Soccer World Cup local organising committee?

You do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out something is just not right over there as scores of people continue to abandon ship at an alarming rate.

Rumours of tension, stress, overwhelming pressure and in-fighting refuse to go away. Many, it seems, have decided that the longer they stay in their jobs, the greater the chance that they’ll not live long enough to see their grandchildren hit their teenage years.

Communications director Tim Modise is the latest to quit in a huff and we’ve been told that he’s certainly not the last as more high-profile individuals are expected to follow him out the door.

The crazy thing is Modise actually tried to quit in February, but was sweet-talked out of leaving.

But it seems whatever drove him to want to quit in the beginning of the year was simply swept under the carpet without being properly addressed as he’s resigned again.

Modise joins a growing list of departures that includes Tumi Makgabo, Emy Casaletti, Steve Watson, Dennis Mumble and Eddie Maloka.

Organising committee CEO Danny Jordaan has, of course, tried to soften the blows and argued that all companies in the world have to deal with resignations of senior personnel at some point. But at such an alarming rate, Danny?

Think about it. The 2010 World Cup is now 596 days away while the Confederations Cup gets under way from June 14 next year.

And yet all these people were hellbent on walking away when they would have been able to secure prime seats to a tournament that we’re not likely to see again in this neck of the woods during our lifetimes.

I’ve been told some were so desperate to put distance between themselves and the organising committee that they were even prepared to settle for a lot less than what they were earning at Safa House. And those who have remained behind are said to be just waiting to secure jobs elsewhere before also quitting.

The timing of Modise’s departure is rather curious as it came only a few weeks after Fifa president Sepp Blatter complained that the organising committee was not doing enough to market and advertise the Soccer World Cup.

While all the upheaval does not seem to have had a noticeable effect on the preparations for the World Cup and the Confederations, surely Jordaan and even Fifa must be concerned.

And surely this spate of resignations will eventually cause problems if it is allowed to continue as the two tournaments draw closer. Imagine the panic if more heads of departments continue to quit until June 10 2010 — the day before the World Cup starts.

As we told Jordaan himself some months ago, we’re no cheerleaders and we will criticise when there is a need to, because constructive criticism will ensure that the 2010 organisers are kept on their toes in the preparations for an event of this magnitude.

We’ve come a long way from the days when cynics right here at home and outside the country desperately tried to get the world to believe we’re a nation of incompetents.

Even those loudmouths who wrote e-mails to Fifa and told the football governing body that they blundered by awarding the World Cup to a nation of what they perceived as nincompoops have been forced to eat large helpings of humble pie.

So the organising committee needs to get its house in order and not spoil all the progress they’ve made since SA won the rights to host the event in 2004.

PUBLICATION: Business Day
AUTHOR: Ntloko
DATED: 22nd October 2008