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we're ready for 2010

By unknown | Jun 23, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE world has now seen that South Africa is ready to stage the 2010 World Cup finals that kick off on June 11 next year, world soccer body Fifa said yesterday.

THE world has now seen that South Africa is ready to stage the 2010 World Cup finals that kick off on June 11 next year, world soccer body Fifa said yesterday.

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 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 committee 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 government and the South African Police Service, 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 allegedly broken into and money stolen while they were playing world champions Italy at Ellis Park last Thursday.

But it was pointed out to foreign media and Fifa that in 2000 in Houston, Texas, Bafana Bafana players' rooms were broken into at an up-market. They were robbed of money and valuables. The incident happened during South Africa'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 US," he said.

"We take as many precautions as possible, but I'm 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 15000 beds for the World 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 reverts 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 said it was important for the stadiums to continue to be used after 2010.

"The last thing we want is for these brand-new stadiums to become white elephants. We aim to make sure these multi-purpose venues are utilised after 2010. We will discuss the issue with the PSL and Safa," he said. - Sapa


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