Vienna – The president of football’s controlling body Fifa, Joseph Blatter, says he still believes in South Africa as the 2010 World Cup host.
But he also revealed that Fifa had a plan B ready should the worst come to the worst.
Blatter told Austrian state broadcaster ORF yesterday that there were some concerns about infrastructure and security.
He expressed his belief that the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa would be the ultimate test run, and if that was not satisfactory, it would be time to look at alternatives.
“But at the moment an earthquake would have to occur to prevent the World Cup from being held in South Africa. However, I would be a negligent Fifa boss if there was no plan B in the cupboard,” Blatter said.
“The World Cup is a logistical challenge. But where there is a will, there is a way. South Africa want to show to the world that they can do it.”
Pressed to say when the time might be to take the Cup away, Blatter said that such a time would be only after the Confederations Cup, if things went wrong there.
Recent talks with trade unions in South Africa had ensured that work on stadiums and the general infrastructure was advancing well.
However, last week more than 500 workers involved in the construction of the Nelspruit World Cup stadium were fired after participating in an unlawful strike.
Blatter did not mention this fact during the TV interview.
The Fifa president said security would be an issue that had to be solved by politicians and officials.
Blatter was to be one of several VIPs at the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain last night.
The football supremo again defended his attempts to introduce the 6+5 rule, which states that six players available for the local national team had to be played in each game.
“Big clubs seldom develop young players. They would rather buy 12-, 13-year-olds. That is trading children, it is modern slavery,” said Blatter, who vowed to con-tinue fighting for the rights of children.
The 6+5 rule has already been questioned by the European Union, but Blatter said it needed to be introduced.
“We are talking to all political stakeholders. They also believe that it must be possible to find a solution.”
PUBLICATION: The Star
DATED: 30th June 2008