only 500 days to go

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Massive celebrations will rock South African townships, towns and cities from Sunday morning to mark the 500 days to the historic 2010 Fifa World Cup.

On Monday it will be exactly 500 days before the first match of this quadrennial tournament is played at Soccer City on June 11 2010.

The main event of the festivities will take place on Monday at Mangaung Sports Centre in Bloemfontein, where the nine host cities will also unveil their posters.

On the same day from the home of Siwelele, the Italian embassy representatives will visit local schools as part of the 2010 Schools "Adopt a Nation" followed by a mini soccer tournament.

Schools in Free State have adopted reigning world champions Italy for the Confederations Cup, which is scheduled for June.

Fifa's top brass will also be here on a two-pronged mission - attend the Local Organising Committee board meeting and update the media on preparations.

Irvin Khoza, LOC chairman, said the meeting would specifically deal with the resignation of three prominent politicians from their cabinet positions.

The trio, who were seconded to the board by the government, are Sydney Mufamadi, Jabu Moleketi and Essop Pahad.

They resigned after the ruling African National Congress recalled Thabo Mbeki as president of the country.

At a South African Football Association executive committee meeting last November the LOC was given powers to increase or decrease board members.

After Monday's eagerly awaited board meeting, Khoza, Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke and Danny Jordaan, the LOC chief executive, will address the media.

Speakers in Bloemfontein will include Sicelo Shiceka, Minister for Local Government and Provincial Affairs, Jordaan and local mayor Playfair Morule.

Also expected there will be Ace Magashule, Free State MEC for sport and culture and ANC provincial leader.

In Johannesburg, the local municipality and 2010 World Cup office will celebrate the day by visiting all the World Cup facilities with the media and invited dignitaries.

Facilities to be toured include Ellis Park Stadium and Soccer City, the two venues to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Confederations Cup and World Cup.

In KwaThema on Sunday, the City of Ekurhuleni has organised a street parade from the local sports complex from 10.30am to create awareness for the World Cup.

In Kimberley on Tuesday the Department of Sport and Recreation will launch the World Cup mass mobilisation campaign at Galeshewe Stadium.

Also next week, the LOC and SABC will announce a partnership to create increased awareness for the Confederations Cup and World Cup.

Khoza said there will be more news about the Confederations Cup and World Cup on SABC television and radio stations on a regular basis.