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By unknown | Mar 17, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

BERLIN - For football fans from across the globe enjoying a successful and safe World Cup might be the dream, but the organisers of South Africa 2010 are the first to admit making it a reality needs hard work.

BERLIN - For football fans from across the globe enjoying a successful and safe World Cup might be the dream, but the organisers of South Africa 2010 are the first to admit making it a reality needs hard work.

Concerns over stadiums behind schedule, power cuts, plus transport and security worries have been well documented.

But the event's former spokesman, Tumi Makgabo, and the South African tourist board CEO Moeketsi Mosola, speaking at a travel trade fair in Berlin, insist the event will be a huge success and delivered on schedule.

There are ambitious plans in place.

Johannesburg's Soccer City is undergoing a major upgrade to host 94 700 fans for the final - scheduled for July 11 2010 - the culmination of four weeks of football with five of the 10 stadiums involved being built from scratch.

But problems have blighted the showpiece Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth, a World Cup semifinal venue, which has until the end of next month to prove to Fifa it is ready for next year's Confederations Cup.

But Makgabo insists everything will be ready for kickoff on June 11 2010.

"It's the first thing people ask - 'Are you on track?' and the answer is definitely 'yes," she told AFP.

"There is a plan B in place and a C, D, E and F right down to Z - they are all South African. The proof will be in the pudding - people won't get it until they have got it."

Marketing the 2010 World Cup is no easy feat as just one horror story of a robbery at knife-point in the Rainbow Nation can undo thousands of rands worth of advertising.

"We have always said as a country that one incident of violence is one too many," said Mosola.

"There is a fundamental commitment to make sure our country is safe - not only for visitors, but our own people.

"There will be an additional 90 000 police officers in our system by 2010.

"This is the first time an African country will host the World Cup, so we have a massive responsibility to make sure everyone feels safe."

But Mosola says supporters will be treated to experiences in South Africa that other World Cup host nations can only dream of offering.

"Fans will be able to wake up in one of our national parks, go into the city to watch a World Cup game and then return to the game reserves for dinner," said Mosala.

"That incredible experience is what will set us apart from other World Cups."

Some 120000 of the lowest-priced tickets will be given away to allow the country's poorest to watch with sponsors covering the cost.

And advice from the last World Cup is being passed on by Germany, who hosted the 2006 tournament, to make sure sports-mad South Africa is not blighted by the problem.

"We are working with Interpol and other bodies," said Makgabo.

"Hooliganism is something new to us and we are working hard to be prepared."

With unemployment in South Africa running at just over 25 percent the World Cup will generate thousands of jobs, with the government investing R17,4 billion to improve the country's infrastructure.

There is also a major investment planned for the country's power supply, while every venue will have its own back-up electricity.

"About 130 000 permanent and non-permanent jobs will be created by the World Cup and there are currently 16 000 employed by the construction industry alone in South Africa," said Makgabo.

"It's about getting people off the streets and into jobs to improve their standard of living."

South Africa 2010 will have just under three million tickets for fans to see the games live - the same number available in Germany, with in excess of 20 million fans expected to attend the free public viewings across the country.

"It is about creating a unique atmosphere and showcasing the rich culture and beauty of our country," Makgabo says. "This is our chance to deliver a colourful World Cup." - Sapa-AFP


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