South Africa’s state of readiness to host Africa’s very first soccer world cup tournament came under the spotlight during a discussion between government representatives, 2010 World Cup organisers and international media in Vienna, Austria.
A media face-off with CNN was held on the sidelines of the EURO 2008 soccer tournament between Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi, SA Tourism CEO Moeketsi Mosola and Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan.
Deputy Minister Moleketi, who is also head of the 2010 Technical Co-ordinating Committee, told members of the international media that preparations are well under way.
He said he was confident that deadlines on the completion of all required infrastructure would be met.
“We expect all stadiums to be completed by December 2008 or January 2009, in time enough to host the 2009 Confederations Cup. A lot has been said about our ability and capacity to host this prestigious soccer tournament and we wish to say to the world that yes, we can and we will deliver a very successful soccer showpiece”, Deputy Minister Moleketi told hordes of European media who attended the event at the Vienna Soccer Museum.
Other questions posed to the SA 2010 team ranged from crime to the recent attacks on foreign nationals.
Deputy Minister Moleketi said the government would be increasing the number of police officials by 30 000 to boost visibility across the streets of South Africa.
He said 40 state-of-the-art helicopters would be dispatched to ensure safety during the world cup and that thousands of CCTV cameras are already in place in and around the precincts that would be used for the tournament in all host cities. This, he said, would boost rapid response by the law enforcement agencies to potential criminal activities.
“We have in the past hosted successful and incident-free events such as the Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup and the World Summit on Sustainable Development to mention a few, and that says to the world that yes, we are capable. This is an opportunity for Africa to show the world that we are a continent that is moving away from its past often characterised by conflict and unrest, and to deal with Afro-pessimism that continues to inform negative attitudes and perpetuate stereotypes towards the continent.”
He said the recent attacks on people from other countries, which also affected some South Africans, were a shame to the nation. “The government and society alike have condemned in the strongest possible terms the inhumane treatment meted out against our fellow brothers and sisters. We wish to say to the world that an overwhelming majority of the South African population are against these barbaric acts and have spoken out strongly against the attacks.
We are a peace-loving nation and we will do everything in our power to ensure that these actions of a few individuals do not threaten our freedom and democracy. South Africa is a signatory to numerous conventions that encourage coexistence between people of various nationalities,” he said.
Addressing a gala dinner after the media event, Sports and Recreation minister Makhenkhesi Stofile said many South Africans, and indeed Africans, stood to benefit from the World Cup beyond the 90-minute soccer matches.
Minister Stofile said the infrastructure being built to host the tournament would improve the levels of soccer development in South Africa.
He said it was his wish that an African team would advance to the final stages of the 2010 World Cup, possibly winning the coveted prize.
Quizzed about rumors that FIFA has been working on a contingency plan just in case South Africa fails to meet the standard requirements, the world football governing body’s Communications and Public Affairs Director, Hans Klaus, said he knew of no plan A, plan B or plan C. Klaus said South Africa remains the only host country for the 2010 soccer games and FIFA is confident that the country would stage a successful tournament.
All of South Africa’s nine host cities have also been exhibiting what their cities would offer to the world during the 2010 World Cup.
Tel: +27 43 664 878 7562
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)