Fifa inspection kicks off

Tamara O’Reilly

World football body Fifa, along with the 2010 Local Organising Committee (OC) is currently on a week-long inspection tour of South Africa to assess the country’s readiness to host the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup.

Taking place in June 2009, the cup is considered a dress rehearsal for the 2010 Fifa World Cup as it requires the country to be able to handle an influx of tourists and media as well as travel, accommodation and security for players.

Known as the Champion of Champions tournament, the Confederations Cup is contested every four year by the winners of each of six Fifa confederation championships held across the world, along with the Fifa World Cup champion and the host country.

“The 2010 Fifa World Cup is one project which gives hope to all of us,” said Dr Irvin Khoza, OC chair, at the launch of the inspection.

“We have come a long way. Everybody’s convinced we’re doing a good job. We are only 18 months away now from the Confederations Cup and we’re happy with what we’ve achieved, which is there for the whole country to see.”

This is Fifa’s fourth site inspection since South Africa was given the right to host the events, and only two more remain. Site inspections focus on space planning, or the way the stadiums and the areas around them are being prepared for the event.

Of the six venues being inspected, four will be used for the Confederation Cup. These are Ellis Park in Johannesburg, host of South Africa’s victorious 1995 Rugby World Cup final, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, which regularly holds Springbok and Bulls Super 14 rugby matches, Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace and the Free State Stadium, home of the Cheetahs’ Super 14 rugby.

First stop was Ellis Park and surrounds, both of which are still being renovated.

“We are very excited with what we have seen at Ellis Park,” said Ron Delmont, head of Fifa in South Africa.

“We look at things like spectator flows, the movement of players and access. We are now ready to sign off on a number of usage areas in the stadium and if this progress is replicated in other stadiums then I don’t see why this World Cup won’t be a success.”

Fifa has already expressed their satisfaction at South Africa’s handling of the 2010 preliminary draw in November 2007, which saw several soccer dignitaries, media and fans converge in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

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