SA is doing better than Germany was at this stage of planning for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, according to Wally Rhoode, operational commander for the safety and security directorate of the local organising committee.

This was confirmed by Fifa general secretary Jérôme Valcke, who recently said that no country was ready 18 months before the World Cup.

“When we had the Confederations Cup in Germany was when we discovered that lots of things were not working,” he said.

“(Fifa president) Sepp Blatter can talk of a Plan B but there is no need for a Plan B because we have already planned for the World Cup,” Rhoode said at a briefing on security readiness for the World Cup held in Pretoria. “SA is ahead of where Germany was in terms of our planning at this point.”

With the building of stadiums on track, world attention has turned to security concerns and how SA, struggling with crime, will cope with the protection of 483000 visitors.

According to Rhoode and Ben Groenewald, an assistant police commissioner, plans for security in 2010 were up and running and would be tested at next year’s Confederations Cup. Both men were confident that SA, which handled a successful Cricket World Cup without incident, would be able to protect visitors both inside and outside the stadiums.

The W orld C up security blueprint, which considers counterterrorism, organised crime, public order and event security, among other things, was approved last month by Fifa.

Interpol, at its annual meeting in Johannesburg recently, gave an undertaking from its 186 member countries to help SA in co-ordinating major events. “All participating countries are sending delegates from their own police forces to assist,” said Groenewald.

Football hooligans will not be allowed to leave their countries.

“European football unions have agreed to assist in identifying offenders and they will be prevented from leaving their country of origin,” said Groenewald.

Courts that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will be set up during the tournament so that offenders can be prosecuted speedily and deported if necessary.

The only big problem facing the committee so far has been a lack of legislation governing pitch invasions, liquor policing and fan parks, and how to ensure the correct standard of training for staff from private security companies, said Rhoode. “As it stands, people in fan parks will not be able to drink because of legislation governing public drinking,” he said.

Groenewald said this would be addressed in time for the World Cup by the Special Measures Act, which gives ministers the authority to regulate certain matters such as liquor standards without having to wait for the law to be amended.

“The local organising committee together with a private law firm are looking at the legislation required,” he said.

In the build-up to the World Cup the police would spend R64m on the deployment of 32000 permanent officers, 10000 police reservists and 10000 people from other disciplines, Groenewald said.

“About three weeks ago officers completed a public order course with the French and we have bought a lot of new equipment which will be needed,” he said.

Other equipment bought includes new helicopters, water cannons, mobile command vehicles and hi-tech bomb disposal equipment.

The police have already bought some of the hi-tech equipment needed to ensure that safety of fans and visitors in 2010 is assured.

PUBLICATION: Business Day
AUTHOR: Chantelle Benjamin
DATED: 26th November 2008