United visit offered lessons on and off the pitch

The Manchester United machine came into town and painted the country red for the duration of their stay here. The circus was to be expected because this was the best that world club football had to offer.

The Manchester United machine came into town and painted the country red for the duration of their stay here. The circus was to be expected because this was the best that world club football had to offer.

The Red Devils had just recently reaffirmed their status as European and English Premiership champions and they were not about to embarrass themselves on our shores.

Besides, Man U, have become such a huge club globally that wherever they place their soccer boots, that becomes their home.

The local giants, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, with their own huge following here in South Africa, added to the excitement.

Obviously it is on the field of play that football issues are resolved.

On that score, besides the earlier great performances by the local boys, the leading European club gave a lesson and a painful hiding to go with it.

The football fans were given a fantastic treat of football entertainment and at the Organising Committee for the World Cup in 2010 we made several observations that will help sharpen our preparations.

The first is that football fans still arrive at the stadium late, leading to congestion of traffic and at the stadium entrances.

This leads to potential security and safety risks around the event.

The second is that many people still do not sit in the seats allocated to them, which can lead to unnecessary fights between people who ostensibly went out for an afternoon of great football entertainment.

There are many other issues, but another one that needs noting is the fact that criminals also take advantage of such big games to put fake tickets on the market that lead to the fleecing of the unsuspecting football fans. Yet another security problem.

To deal with some of these problems the Organising Committee will have to work very closely with the PSL and Safa public relations people to inculcate a new mindset among football lovers to change some of our habits.

We must all make going to a soccer match a great experience that can be shared by families and be extended to the visitors during the Confederations Cup next year and the World Cup in 2010.

In terms of the sale of tickets the committee will give guidelines on where and how tickets are to be procured as well as on the security features of such tickets.

The restrictions on the purchase of tickets are going to be very tight.

On Sunday I was very pleased to see that 70 percent of the viewers of the popular SABC current affairs show, Asikhulume, said they were still confident that the country will host a successful World Cup.

My colleagues, Skhumbuzo Macozoma, who is in charge of the transport division of the Organising Committee, Onke Mjo, who runs our Volunteer Programme and Tumi Dlamini, who runs our Legacy Programme appeared on the show to update the viewers on the progress we were making in our preparations.

Did you know, for instance, that the country is investing around R300 billion in transport infrastructure over the next three years?

This is definitely going to revolutionise public transport and transport systems in the country for decades to come. As I always say, we should not view the hosting of the World Cup as a panacea to our many challenges as a nation, but rather as a catalyst that should unlock these investments and create other opportunities in the economy.

I am very encouraged by the many thousands of South Africans who are going online to register as volunteers for the Confederations Cup. The address is www.fifa.com/South Africa 2009 or phone 0800 525252.

This shows that many of our people want to not only support but to also take part in the delivery of the event. Our declaration that "Ke Nako" will ring true when we work together.

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