Much work still for SA to do

2010-03-03 00:00

THERE is much work to do for South Africa to be ready for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Acting President Kgalema Motlanthe said at a press conference at Moses Mabhida Stadium to mark yesterday’s 100 days to the tournament’s June 11 kick-off.

Bafana Bafana, who play Namibia in a friendly at the stadium tonight, greeted the dignitaries after the briefing and the national anthem was sung by a boys’ choir. Afterwards, helicopters towing the South African flag did a fly-past.

Motlanthe said now that most of the construction work for 2010 has been completed, the focus will shift to the logistics of the tournament.

“Now that we have completed the brick-and-mortar work, we need to focus on soft issues,” the deputy president said. “The movement of people to ensure that when all these hundreds of thousands of supporters land on our shores we should be able to garner the necessary spirit of ubuntu and embrace them.”

Motlanthe said parastatal South African Airways will not rip off passengers during 2010 by increasing air fares.

“The projected figures are about half a million [visiting] spectators during the month of the World Cup.

“The full benefits of this tournament have already been felt by the South African economy because … we invested in infrastructure and development ahead of the world economic recession and [this] served us very well as a counter-measure against the recession.”

Asked what solution the government has for thousands of construction workers whose jobs have come to an end with the completion of the World Cup stadiums, Motlanthe replied: “We have set aside billions for infrastructure development because this offers us an opportunity to bring us to world-class standards, particularly in rural areas.”

Fifa president Sepp Blatter presented Motlanthe with a football pennant commemorating 100 days to go.

Blatter said it took some effort to convince his own organisation that a World Cup tournament could be staged in Africa.

“It is a long way [we have come] paved with trust and confidence, but with patience as well. And there was a lot to do to convince people in our organisation, Fifa, that one day they will accept that we will give something back to Africa.

“Africa has given so much, not only to the world but to the world of football as well. And therefore I am very proud and very happy that this love story is now coming to a real wedding party.”

Blatter was asked if, having taken a political gamble backing the World Cup in South Africa, he feels he has been vindicated, and whether the 2010 preparations have been something of a rollercoaster ride.

“There is no doubt that during the duration of my idea, then confirmed by the executive, that Africa and South Africa is a good choice, we never put into question the ability to organise,” the Fifa president said.

“Sometimes we had to put some pressure.

“But you remember when I had the so-called solution B in one pocket, and the solution C in the other pocket, and both of them were South Africa.”

Safa president Kirsten Nematandani said he believes Bafana will surprise at the World Cup.

“The coach is taking the team to Brazil and Germany for month-long camps. Surely, like thye always say, what you put in is what you get out.

“All we need now is for the nation to be behind the team … on that day surely you are going to see a very different South African team.”

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