reprieve for venue

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Fifa has given Port Elizabeth a lifeline to speed up the construction of Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in order to be part of the five venues for the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary, said the ball was now in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan's court on whether they want to host the event or not.

Valcke was addressing the media yesterday at Safa House during the break of the 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee meeting of the board of directors.

The meeting came in the wake of concerns that the board was going to reduce the venues from five to four because of the delays in Port Elizabeth.

"If they can't, the Confederations Cup will be played in four venues," said Valcke, adding that it would be good for Port Elizabeth to host this tournament too.

Valcke said they owe it as an honour to former president Nelson Mandela to play the games in Port Elizabeth where the new venue is named after Madiba.

"The Confederations Cup is like tomorrow morning, while the World Cup is still 15 months to go. As for the World Cup, all is still on track."

A final decision on the future of Port Elizabeth in relation to the Confederations Cup will be taken at a board meeting on April 29 and 30.

Irvin Khoza, the LOC chairman, said the board would give all the necessary technical support to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan to meet the deadlines.

Khoza declined to name the specific challenges needed to be speeded up regarding the construction process, saying the matter was discussed with the municipality.

"I want to place it on record that Port Elizabeth for now is still part of the five venues for the Confederations Cup between June 14 and 28 2009.

"By that time there must be games to test the readiness of the stadium, we will make a decision next month whether PE is in or out.

"When we started with the process, PE was way ahead of the other host cities, that is why it is only fair to give them all the necessary support."

Khoza said ticket prices for the World Cup was discussed and decided at the meeting, adding that they are still to get approval from Fifa.

Also present at the briefing were LOC chief executive officer Danny Jordaan, PE mayor Nondumiso Maphazi and Eskom's Johnny Dladla.

Dladla gave the board the assurance that the Confederations Cup and World Cup will not be affected by load shedding.