25 November 2008
South Africa’s preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup are in their final stages and will not be greatly affected by the current global economic turmoil, says Local Organising Committee (LOC) chief executive Danny Jordaan.
Speaking at the opening of the Soccerex inter-business football exhibition in Johannesburg on Monday, Jordaan said that due to the amount of work already done for the World Cup, only slight price escalation remained a worry.
“If the world economy had crashed in 2004 [when South Africa was raising the budget for much of its World Cup preparations], it would have been a very different picture than four years later in 2008,” Jordaan said.
“[M]ost of the work has already been done.”
An expected price escalation of 10 percent in capital costs due to the problems on international markets would be a factor for the South African government and the LOC to deal with, Jordaan said.
Regarding the impact of the global economic slowdown on the number of people travelling to South Africa for 2010, Jordaan said the weakening of South Africa’s currency meant that, for people with pounds, dollars and euros in their pockets, South Africa would be a cheaper destination.
“We expect about 450 000 visitors for the 2010 Fifa World Cup . which is not close to the number of people who travelled to Germany for the 2006 World Cup.”
Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke told Soccerex delegates that he was happy with where South Africa was in its preparations for 2010.
“There is a problem of price escalation, this is clear, but we as Fifa are working closely with the LOC to try to keep the costs down.”
What remained of concern to Fifa ahead of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and the World Cup, Valcke said, were the issues of transport infrastructure, accommodation, overlay and security.
Jordaan said the same issues were a top priority for the LOC, adding, however, that work was ongoing in all these areas.
South Africa is in the process of defining and strengthening its security plans for the two tournaments, adding that the impetus of 41 000 extra police officers by 2010 would help allay fears around safety and security in the country.
By 2010, there would be 31 000 extra operational police officers and 10 000 extra police reservists in South Africa, Jordaan said.
The LOC hopes the World Cup will be a force for social cohesion in South Africa, with the 2009 Confederations Cup the first step in building support for the national team ahead of the World Cup.