The world has now seen South Africa is ready to stage the 2010 World Cup finals which kick-off on June 11, 2010, world soccer body Fifa said on Monday.
On a scale of one to 10 South Africa’s readiness for the 2010 showpiece, following the current successful staging of the Confederations Cup, rates an eight on Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke’s scale.
Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg, Valcke said while problems had arisen during the Confederations Cup, which was at the halfway stage, he was pleased with the event’s overall organisation – a dry run for the 2010 finals.
“The best ambassadors for South Africa and 2010 are the teams, players and officials who participated in the Confederations Cup.
“The organisation from the LOC [local organising committee] has been really top class. What is more pleasing is the players are returning to their countries with a good opinion of South Africa, the people, fans, stadiums, hotels and training facilities.”
“That is the best advert we could hope for.”
Valcke said the LOC had encountered a last minute strike by volunteers at Ellis Park last week, which was swiftly sorted out.
“Security at matches has gone well and here we have to thank the commitment of the South African government and South African Police Services, who have really come to the party and gone out of their way to assist Fifa and the local organising committee.”
The Egyptian players’ hotel rooms were broken into and money stolen while they were playing world champions Italy at Ellis Park last Thursday.
However, it was pointed out to foreign media and Fifa that in 2000 in Houston, Texas, Bafana Bafana players’ rooms were broken into at an upmarket hotel where they were staying.
They were robbed of money and valuables. The incident happened during Bafana’s match against Mexico in the annual Gold Cup.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter said no country was crime free or perfect.
“Players being robbed is sad, but as you point out, it can happen anywhere in the world – even the United States.
“We take as many precautions as possible, but I am satisfied fans, teams and the public will be safe during the 2010 World Cup finals.”
Valcke said South Africa’s six newly-built stadiums for the soccer showpiece had yet to be tested.
“We need test events for those venues (Soccer City, Nelspruit, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane) before the finals.”
Valcke admitted transport and lack of accommodation in Bloemfontein, where fans and media struggled to get rooms for Confederations Cup matches, was a concern.
“We are short of 15 000 beds for the Word Cup and we are working on it. Bloemfontein was a problem, even for getting Fifa members rooms during matches.”
A suggestion on transport was that Fifa revert to the 1990 World Cup system in Italy, where teams were based at one venue for the first three round matches.
This would alleviate the need for public transport.
Valcke also stressed it was important for the new stadiums to continue to be used after 2010.
“The last thing we want is for these brand new stadiums to become white elephants after 2010.
“It is a real concern for us and we aim to make sure these multi-purpose venues are utilised after 2010. We will discuss the issue with the PSL and SA Football Association.”
Blatter said South Africa would benefit economically from the World Cup on home soil.
“The legacy is the World Cup has created jobs and stopped an economic downfall in South Africa.
“It has created a lot of opportunities for many thousands of South Africans. What the world will see in 2010 is a truly successful African World Cup with excitement and tons of energy.” – Sapa
DATED: 22nd June 2009