Blatter Says South Africa Ready


FIFA President Sepp Blatter has insisted that South Africa is ready to host the World Cup with just 100 days to go before the start of the tournament on June 11. Additionally he hit out at critics who were, in his opinion, undermining the host country’s ability to host the jamboree. Speaking at a news conference in Durban’s new stadium, he said:

“It’s not so much that there’s pessimism, but that it’s always being thrown into doubt. It’s bad, because when there’s doubt, there’s no confidence. For me and FIFA, that bothers us sometimes. There is no doubt, no doubt. Let’s go now, let’s have this World Cup, and then we will discuss it at the end of July.”

Construction is now complete at all ten stadiums although two have never been used. Nonetheless Blatter’s confidence came after a tour of all ten venues.

Although the 100 day countdown was said to be a large media event, crowds at the festivities were small, because they were held at downtown venues well away from the large population centres in the townships. This illustrates one of the major internal criticisms of the tournament, that the spending and the polishing are by-passing the real centres of population, where many of the citizens still live in relative poverty.

Danny Jordaan, head of the local organising committee, was upbeat though:

“As South Africans we have encountered a lot of skepticism but today, as we celebrate this milestone, we can confidently say to the World that we will be ready.”

South Africa has poured 33 billion rand ($3.9 billion) into preparations for the tournament, including major upgrades to airports in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein.

FIFA says that 2.2 of the 2.9 million tickets have already been sold, even though fewer foreign fans are expected to attend.

South Africa is banking on 450,000 foreign visitors, thought advance ticket sales suggest this may be a wildly optimistic assumption, as the global recession and fear of crime hamper their attempts to lure visitors.

South Africa has spent more than $2.8 billion on security, recruiting 41,000 additional police and buying hi-tech equipment for the competition, in a land with one of the world’s highest murder rates.


About Author

Comments are closed.