South Africa’s 2010 World Cup security blueprint has won approval from soccer’s governing body but needs to be fined-tuned ahead of the showpiece event, FIFA said on Friday. FIFA has raised safety and transport as key concerns for South Africa, which is battling some of the world’s highest crime levels and perceptions that it might be too dangerous for visitors.

Delia Fischer, a South Africa-based spokeswoman for FIFA, said the organisation’s security experts had recently reviewed South Africa’s 2010 safety and security strategy, which covered terror threats, hooliganism and crime.

“This document was reviewed by our security experts…and they came to the conclusion that it builds a reassuring basis for the security of the event,” Fischer told Reuters via email.

However, she said it was important that the “conceptual paper” was translated into action and fine-tuned, with next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup expected to provide valuable lessons.

Fischer said South African authorities had liaised with their international counterparts, including security officials at English Premier League stadiums, and would rely on this expertise to deal with potentially troublesome spectators.

Hooliganism is not a part of the soccer scene in South Africa, though there have been some random incidents of fan violence.

Director Peter Jacobs, the police’s 2010 security co-ordinator for the Western Cape region, confirmed special teams would be deployed at stadiums to target troublemakers.

He said authorities would also focus on dealing with credit card fraud and counterfeit goods as thousands of tourists were expected to flood to South Africa’s tourist capital Cape Town, which hosts a semi-final and other 2010 games.

“We are convinced that we will provide a safe and secure 2010,” Jacobs said.

Despite the high crime, tourism growth in South Africa outpaced the global average of five percent in the first quarter of 2008, surging to 11.9 after a record 9.1 million tourist arrivals last year, authorities said.

PUBLICATION: Reuters
AUTHOR: Wendell Roelf
DATED: 17th October 2008