Empty stands a worry, says Fifa

CONCERNED: Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary  during the Nelson mandela Soccer Challenge.
CONCERNED: Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary during the Nelson mandela Soccer Challenge.

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The failure by more South Africans to embrace Bafana Bafana is a cause for concern for the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa).

This is according to Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary, soon after Bafana Bafana successfully defended the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Phokeng on Saturday.

Bafana Bafana achieved the feat after downing Norway 2-1 at the refurbished Royal Bafokeng Stadium, which will be used for the Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup.

Valcke said it was important for South Africans to rally behind Bafana Bafana in the build-up to the Confederations Cup in June. "We are not pleased that the stadium was not full today (Saturday), we expected to see more South African people to support the team.

"It is good that Bafana Bafana won and we hope they continue doing well in the next games, which will be good for the Confederations Cup."

Valcke said they were happy with the renovation process of this multi-purpose stadium, which has been completed.

"The stadium is good, it is good that this game was played here for us to see what we need to do to improve before the Confederations Cup," said Valcke.

"Fifa and the LOC (Local Organising Committee) will continue working together for everything to be in order for the Confederations Cup."

George Khunou, Royal Bafokeng Sports Holdings managing director, said they were encouraged by the support from Fifa.

"The stadium has been completed and we are busy with the final touches. Having games like this one will help us to identify the areas where we have to work ahead of the Confederations Cup," he said.

Khunou said they were busy with a campaign to mobilise support in Rustenburg and surrounding areas for more people to watch the games at the stadium.

"We will be having an international rugby match in May. The campaign is not only for soccer. We want our communities to support whatever activity is taking place here," Khunou said.