25 June 2009
As the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup heads for its climax, South Africa appears to have cleared yet another hurdle on the road to 2010.
Yes, there have been setbacks: both the Egyptian and Brazilian teams experienced minor incidents of crime; there have been concerns over the transport facilities to matches; and supporters stayed away from a couple of the lesser fixtures.
Yet Fifa’s “Festival of Continental Champions”, a key curtain-raiser for the main event in 2010, has been a resounding success. That’s according to global soccer’s governing body, which has given the host an 8/10 ranking.
“The organisation from the [Local Organising Committee] has been really top-class, and the players are returning to their countries with a good opinion of South Africa, the people, fans, stadiums and training facilities,” Fifa Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said this week.
These sentiments were echoed by Fifa President Sepp Blatter, who said South Africa was more than ready to host the quadrennial showpiece of international soccer.
“I am proud – and South Africa can be proud – that the technical premises will be ready,” Blatter told a media briefing. “There is no doubt.”
Strong words from the most powerful sports administrator on the planet. No more rumblings about a “Plan B” – just a clear affirmation that South Africa is meeting its Fifa requirements.
Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010