Blatter slams doubters

2009-06-13 08:01

Johannesburg - South Africa was given a massive endorsement of its ability to host a successful Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup by the present of world controlling body Fifa, Sepp Blatter on Friday.

Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg, Blatter stated he had full confidence in the Local Organising Committee to succeed with what was being termed a dress rehearsal for the 2010 showpiece.

At the same time he fired a broadside at media doubters in Europe who he said had been pessimistic about the country's ability to succeed with the Confederations Cup.

Bafana Bafana play Asian champions Iraq in the opening match at Ellis Park at 16:00 on Sunday.

"I have no doubt South Africa will host a great Confederations Cup. We must trust them. Even now there are media in Europe who ask me about South Africa. I tell them it will work and I have no reason to doubt that I am right in my judgement of. It is now time to enjoy the soccer."

He was happy with the progress made by and readiness of the LOC to host the two soccer tournaments.

"I have seen the four stadiums to be used for the Confederations Cup... and I have no problems. I am also happy with the fact that the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (in Port Elizabeth) is already completed ahead of schedule for the World Cup.

"The stadiums built and those being renovated will be ready in time. And here we need to compliment the LOC."

Any problems that surfaced during the next two weeks would be ironed out before June 14, 2010 when the World Cup kicks for the first time on African soil.

LOC chairperson Irvin Khoza, when asked for the upteenth time about security, told journalists: "Why does the security issue not come up when the IPL (Indian cricket league) and the British and Irish Lions are come here?

"We have hosted 146 major international events and not had a major worry. Why is only soccer that is asked these questions on security? We are confident that our security will be top notch and fans or teams do not have to worry about their safety. There is no need to fear."

Blatter agreed and said: "We have full confidence in the security. But maybe it is jealousy that South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 World Cup. I do not know the reason for the doubters. I do not doubt for one minute."

He added: "Soccer is about entertaining the masses. By hosting it in Africa it will not be my legacy, but a legacy about social and cultural movement and trying the make the world a better place in bad economic times."

About 470 000 of the 640 000 tickets for the Confederations Cup had been sold.

- SAPA

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