Durban wants more big games.

Durban has been treated unfairly in the allocation of 2010 World Cup soccer matches to host cities, said Julie-May Ellingson, head of the city’s strategic projects unit and of its 2010 programme yesterday.

Ellingson said that Durban deserved to host a quarterfinal match.

“We have been given five first-round matches, a second-round match and one semifinal. That is not fair because it is the same [allocation] as [awarded to] Nelson Mandela Bay — but we are a much bigger city,” she said.

Durban plans to fight for a quarterfinal match.

“I am not sure who allocates the matches, whether it is Fifa or the local organising committee, but one has to ask why Gauteng has got 28 matches. This is not a Gauteng world cup,” Ellingson said.

Durban is confident that the construction work on the Moses Mabhida stadium, where the six matches and semifinal will take place, is on track and that it will be completed before or by October next year.

But Fifa spokeswoman Delia Fischer told The Times that the city was unlikely to get anywhere with its challenge.

She said the decision was made by the Fifa organising committee and the quarterfinals had been allocated to Soccer City and Ellis Park, in Johannesburg, and to Nelson Mandela Bay and Cape Town.

“I am not certain of the criteria used when choosing venues, but they have been chosen by the committee under Fifa, not by the local organising committee,” she said.

Other Durban projects, which include upgrading other sporting infrastructure and the construction of the King Shaka Airport, are in line with the city’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Durban has already become the first African city to win a bid to host the 123rd session of the International Olympic Committee in 2011.

“The only way the committee will know about your city is if you bring them here. Bidding is one thing, but showing your city to them is another,” Ellingson said.

“We hope that when they see our city they will have a glimpse of what we can deliver.”

AUTHOR: Nivashni Nair
DATED: 20th October 2008