Blatter reassures the world

AS SOUTH Africa celebrates the 2010 World Cup 100 days countdown milestone, Fifa president Sepp Blatter will today reiterate his support for South Africa's ability to host a successful tournament.

AS SOUTH Africa celebrates the 2010 World Cup 100 days countdown milestone, Fifa president Sepp Blatter will today reiterate his support for South Africa's ability to host a successful tournament.

Blatter is in the country for the celebrations organised by the Local Organising Committee, which started with a banquet in Durban last night. He has appealed to the people of the world to believe in South Africa and the continent.

"The problem is that people don't believe Africans are capable of hosting a World Cup," said Blatter, who landed in South Africa on Sunday.

The Swiss, who turns 74 on March 10, questioned the reasoning behind peoples' reservations about South Africa's ability to host the tournament.

"Why are they afraid? Are they reticent, is it a racial or cultural problem? Why don't people want to make the trip to South Africa now? Why?"

Blatter said that, in his view the excuse of security concerns didn't add up.

"There has been a rugby World Cup, tennis and now golf. There's theatre, opera and Formula One was staged in Kyalami. Everything has been here, everything, so why would we not want football? That is the big question for me."

Rather than thinking about the negative reporting, Blatter said he was concentrating on the opening match between the host nation and Mexico in Soccer City on June 11, a match he hopes former president Nelson Mandela can attend.

"We are all wishing for this but he is at a stage where one day he really may no longer be with us. I once had breakfast with him in Zurich and he said 'my dream has come true'. You have to be there for it, I told him."

The host cities, including Johannesburg, Polokwane, Tshwane and Rustenburg will have their own countdown celebrations. The Polokwane celebrations, staged jointly with the SABC, will take place at the University of Limpopo's Oscar Mpetha Stadium in Mankweng. - additional reporting by Sapa-DPA

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