Preparations lagging for 2010

2005-04-25 10:00
Johannesburg - South Africa has done little so far to prepare for the 2010 World Cup it was awarded almost a year ago, The Star website reported on Monday.

It said a delegation from Fifa, the world controlling body, was unlikely to find much to report on upon its arrival soon for a visit to review progress.

The Local Organising Committee (LOC), the body which will stage the entire World Cup, had not yet been established. This was expected to be done by the end of this month.

Without the LOC, the World Cup could not be organised - and venue upgrading and construction deadlines were looming.

Compounding this situation was the fact that two vital laws - including the governing of finances and infrastructure - would be passed only in December.

The country has committed itself to finalising the building and upgrading of stadiums before the end of 2007. Fifa's deadline for the final assessment of readiness is June 2008.

The promised end-of-April deadline for upgrading one of the main venues, the Loftus stadium in Pretoria, with additional turnstiles and modernised electronics, was only five days away.

Upgrading and construction work on the country's 12 other premier venues such as Soccer City (popularly known as FNB stadium) and Ellis Park - also appeared to be behind schedule.

FNB stadium manager Dennis Mumble had confirmed that plans to renovate the ground were months behind schedule.

"We wanted to have the new stadium up and running from the beginning of 2007 but now it looks like the upgrade will not be completed until after the first quarter of 2007," he was quoted as saying.

Government guarantee

"Our objectives are behind, but the deadline is not until June 2008. We were looking to get this thing off the ground last September, but we had to shift that because of something to do with the government guarantee."

As part of the process of getting the World Cup, the government had to provide a guarantee to Fifa that it would cover any developments required on stadiums.

"We're waiting for Safa (the SA Football Association) to find out how to access the guarantee. We can raise money for rebuilding in the private sector if we can get the government guarantee," said Mumble.

"Hopefully now, with Danny Jordaan working on the Local Organising Committee, these things can be fast-tracked."

Probably the most pressing problem of all - getting local municipalities on board and assessing their capacity to deliver on infrastructure needs - could start until the LOC is launched.

Jordaan said last week preparations were on track, though it might appear as if nothing had happened.

"We will meet our target. People should remember that for any major event to be successful, you need to establish a legal framework, and that takes time," he said.

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