2010 preparations impress Uefa

30 March 2009

The chief executive of South Africa’s 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC), Danny Jordaan, gave the Union of European Football (Uefa) Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark a comprehensive update on the country’s World Cup preparations last week.

Thirteen of the 32 World Cup places will be filled by teams from Europe, and Jordaan’s briefing was well received by some of the key figures in world football.

“The 2010 Fifa World Cup is of interest to all associations,” Uefa president Michel Platini said as he welcomed Jordaan on stage at the congress on Wednesday.

Jordaan told Uefa’s member associations that South Africa’s World Cup stadiums were on course to be completed by October, in line with Fifa’s deadlines.

He also updated them on the country’s transport, safety and fan park plans for the first African World Cup, and on preparations for the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup kicking off in June this year, which will feature reigning Uefa champions Spain and reigning world champions Italy.

“Not only will Europe bring the highest number of teams to South Africa in 2010, but the European football associations also have well established fan clubs, and we need to work with them to bring those fans to South Africa next year,” Jordaan said after his address.

A substantial number of the anticipated 450 000 international visitors who will travel to South Africa for the World Cup are expected to come from Europe, with the likes of England, the Netherlands and Germany traditionally having among the largest fan bases at World Cup tournaments.

“Already well over 800 000 applications have been received for the 743 000 tickets that have been made available in this first round of ticket sales, many of them coming from fans in Europe,” Jordaan said. “This means that the tournament is already oversubscribed, but it is still of utmost importance that the associations know exactly what to expect in South Africa in 2010.”

Geoff Thompson, England’s former Football Association chairman, who was re-elected as Uefa’s vice-president at the congress, had high praise for Jordaan’s briefing.

“The stadiums look superb, and we are also very impressed by the number of security personnel that will be deployed to secure the event and by the country’s track record in hosting major events,” Thompson said.

“To have a World Cup in Africa is something many of us have dreamed of for years and without a doubt entrusting South Africa with the 2010 Fifa World Cup has been well placed.”

Thompson said that the number of tickets already purchased by UK fans was evidence that English fans are gearing up in their thousands to travel with their team next year.

There were also warm words for South Africa’s 2010 preparations from German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, a current Fifa executive member who was chairman of Germany’s 2006 Fifa World Cup organising committee.

“I am convinced that it will be a wonderful World Cup,” Beckenbauer said. “With the organising talent that South Africa has, the country has nothing to worry about.”

Beckenbauer’s compatriot, German Football Association secretary-general Wolfgang Niersbach, said South Africa “must host its own World Cup, reflective of its people and the continent. I believe the event will go along way to changing the world’s perceptions about Africa.”

SAinfo reporter and the 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee

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