World soccer body will sponsor tours

Fifa is inviting the world’s journalists to the country, to show them how safe South Africa is as World Cup 2010 host.

  • 2010 Special ReportHans Klaus, the world soccer body’s spokesman, told reporters in Cape Town that Fifa planned to show foreign journalists the 10 cities that will host matches in 2010.

    Klaus said that journalists from America, Asia and Europe would be taken on Fifa-sponsored tours from next month.

    “Europe and America have a perception of South Africa. And it’s not the right perception,” said Klaus.

    “The media are also over-critical. We are sending foreign journalists to show them a beautiful country. We can help with perception — but the rest has to be done by South Africa.”

    Klaus, who is based at Fifa’s headquarters in Switzerland, is in South Africa for a 10-day assessment tour of the country’s preparations.

    His Fifa delegation is joined by the Local Organising Committee , government officials and other stakeholders. They want to tackle three issues: security, transport and energy — and Klaus was unapologetic about the challenges the country faces.

    “Security is mentioned most. It has to be addressed. It’s especially an issue for those people who have a different opinion of this country,” said Klaus.

    “Transportation also has to be explained to people . Energy is also important. We need to talk about the problems and it has to be addressed more openly. You can’t look like you’re not prepared as a country. You also need to improve your passport control at airports. It took me one and a half hours to get through the airport in Johannesburg,” he said.

    Klaus said that the South African government is “assuring infrastructure and security and they want to go ahead”.

    He said that Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who visited the country last month to observe its 2010 plans, was also upbeat.

    “He was really positive and I asked him if he’s sure. And he said there really is progress.”

    The only hiccup for now is Port Elizabeth’s stadium, which will most likely not be ready for next year’s Fifa Confederations Cup — a tournament viewed as a trial run for the month-long World Cup. Klaus said its construction was “going slow”.

    Delia Fischer, Fifa’s local media officer, said 3500 journalists are expected at the Confederations Cup. She said that “international media companies are already setting up offices” locally.

    Participating national teams will know who they will face on November 22 when the Confederations Cup draw takes place in Johannesburg.

  • PUBLICATION: The Times
    AUTHOR: Yazeed Kamaldien
    DATED: 3rd October 2008