The stadiums are nearly ready and the police have contingency plans. Now the only problem is those thousands of local fans who aren’t buying tickets for the Confederations Cup.

“It will be sad to find stadiums filled with people from elsewhere,” Deputy President Baleka Mbete said on Thursday.

She was briefing the press in Pretoria following a day-long 2010 inter-ministerial committee meeting, the second such meeting to be held this year.
The main focus of the meeting, she explained, was to assess the preparedness of the four host cities, as well as check the plans for transport and security.

“We go away happy that a lot of the work has been done,” Mbete said.

Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile was equally glowing, calling the meeting an enriching exercise.

“The stadiums are 99 percent complete,” he said of the stadiums in the host cities. “We are now dealing with the overlays, such as the walkways.”

Not a single city had asked for additional funding, he said. They had tightened their belts.

Deputy National Police Commissioner Andre Pruis agreed that everything was on track.

He said South Africa was well equipped and prepared to handle the security for such an event. In fact, security was so good that there had been only a single incident at the 141 major events staged since the advent of democracy.

Security measures developed in South Africa for managing high-profile events were now being exported.

The major concern now was ticket sales.

“We would like South Africans to buy tickets for the Confederations Cup. Please buy tickets now,” Mbete pleaded.

She said South Africans were not the only ones who
were not buying – other Africans were also absent.

“Even for the World Cup, people from Europe, Japan, the US, Canada and Australia are buying rather than Africans.”

The deputy president said the organisers would be looking at measures to boost sales.

There were also plans to increase the number of committee meetings in the months to come.

PUBLICATION: (The Star) (Page 2)
AUTHOR: Shaun Smillie
DATED: 20th March 2009