“2010: We’ll be ready” — South Africa

Government’s head on the local organizing committee, Joe Phaahla, said South Africa had now begun its preparations for hosting a football showpiece, which will be held in an African country for the first time in 2010.

As the current tournament being held in Germany draws towards a close, Phaahla said eyes were now shifting towards South Africa’s preparations, and the country was eager not to disappoint.

Phaahla said the state had already made available the required financial resources and the 10 stadiums that will host the World Cup matches had already been selected.

A team is also understood to be in Germany on a “preparatory mission” to see where it could improve on the way the tournament is being held there.

“Issues of safety and accountability of event organizers need to be tightened to ensure maximum safety in such public events and to ensure that the 2010 world cup becomes a successful event,” Phaahla said. Football governing body FIFA has reportedly accepted the country’s 10 selected venues that will host tournament matches

“Out of the 10 selected stadiums only five are to be constructed from scratch. The rest need minor upgrades to meet some technical requirements as per Fifa specifications,” Phaahla told a local daily recently. The ten stadiums that have been approved include FNB Soccer City, Ellis Park, Loftus Versfeld, Polokwane, Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein and Royal Bafokeng in Rustenburg, with new stadiums to be constructed in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Ethekwini and Mbomela.

Phaahla said the stadium upgrade and construction programme was on schedule, as “all relevant municipalities have already started with the first phases of initial designs and planning processes”.

Tenders for professional teams to assist municipalities have also been invited and work is expected to be completed on the projects by the end of August, with construction to begin shortly afterwards.

While plans for the development of other infrastructure for the tournament have also been put underway, concerns have arisen over the development of transport networks, which parliament has suggested need to be upgraded “as soon as possible”.

Jeremy Cronin, chairperson of parliament’s transport portfolio committee said last week transport issues needed to be addressed “from the point of view of ordinary South. Africans who are condemned to awful public transport, every single day, and not just for a few weeks in 2010”.

The ANC MP said the country should take advantage of the opportunities being presented by 2010 to improve its transport infrastructure for the benefit of local people.

Under its 2005-2006 financial year, the national treasury has reportedly set aside R241.5 million for the first phase of establishing cost estimates and design planning for both upgrading and construction requirements. The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has also been appointed by the government to manage the stadium development fund. Phaahla said the DBSA had been tasked to work hand in hand with the host cities and relevant stadium authorities, while the local organising committee had appointed a technical team whose main task is to guide the stadium developers to meet specifications indicated by the football mother body.

“We are therefore not aware of any disorganisation in this regard, all coordination in this respect is being handled via the host cities’ appointed project managers and the co-ordinators of the 2010 Fifa World Cup,” Phaahla said.

Earlier this year, Finance minister Trevor Manuel said R3 billion would be set aside for stadium construction and refurbishment.

Both government and parliament have come under heavy criticism for the slow pace of preparations for the 2010 football showcase, with opposition chief Tony Leon accusing the state of dragging its feet. The Democratic Alliance leader last week accused parliament of failing to pass legislation which would enable South Africa to conform to Fifa regulations for the tournament.

The first and second 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Special Measures were meant to be passed by the end of last year but are still to be passed by parliament despite an extended deadline by Fifa.

July 2006
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