moulding solidarity

ZURICH - Fifa president Sepp Blatter showed his solidarity with the construction workers who are getting 10 stadiums in South Africa ready for the 2010 World Cup.

ZURICH - Fifa president Sepp Blatter showed his solidarity with the construction workers who are getting 10 stadiums in South Africa ready for the 2010 World Cup.

Blatter met with South African trade union leaders on Tuesday and said he wanted them to be treated fairly while building and upgrading World Cup venues.

"Although Fifa is not the employer or the builder responsible for constructing the stadiums, it is well aware of its social responsibility in connection with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and is also keeping an eye on it," Blatter said.

Stadium construction is managed by the 2010 Local Organising Committee, with most of the expected $1 billion (about R650 billion) costs met by the government.

Blatter has made several visits to monitor construction work, and has offered repeated assurances that the stadiums will be ready to host matches when the tournament opens on June 11, 2010.

Work to build the new Moses Mabidha Stadium in Durban was held up by a strike last November, just two weeks before the qualifying draw was held in the east coast city.

Union leaders had threatened similar disruptions at the other nine sites.

"The workers, especially those labouring on the construction sites, need a wage that will enable them to live, enjoy a safe and healthy workplace and social benefits as well," said Crosby Moni, the deputy president of South Africa's largest construction workers' union, the National Union of Mineworkers.

"We have no doubt that Fifa can help significantly to reach this goal," he said.

Three other stadiums are being built for the World Cup, while six more are being upgraded, including the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, where a second tier will increase capacity to 48 000 seats.

The World Cup final will be played before an expected crowd of 94700 at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

"We sent a signal of hope and trust in the abilities of South Africa and the entire African continent when we awarded the 2010 World Cup," Blatter said.

"The Fifa World Cup is intended to have an enduring and positive effect on the economy and generate social change." - Sapa-AP

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