2010 organisers protest to Australia

Australia recently stepped up its bid to portray itself as the ideal alternative host nation for the 2010 showpiece and South Africa says it is fed up with this.

“We are aware of their latest reports and we need to ascertain whether these newspapers are encouraged by their government or not,” said chairman of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Irvin Khoza.

It was at Khoza’s instruction that the chief executive officer of the Local Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan, would write the letter to the Australians.

Weekly reports by the Down Under newspaper which continued to question South Africa’s preparations (despite FIFA’s thumbs-up signal) as well as comments by the New South Wales Prime Minister Morris Iemma aggravated the latest stand-off. Iemma continued with the now established tradition of casting doubt on South Africa’s readiness when he said Australia had the expertise and was willing to help in the staging of the 2010 event.

“We stand ready to step in if South Africa is unable to host the 2010 World Cup and the Football Federation of Australia puts a bid to act as emergency host,” Iemma was quoted as saying.

The Australian state of New South Wales staged the 2000 Olympic Games and said its largest city, Sydney, had plenty of people with experience in running major events who could help organise, if necessary.

However, Khoza blasted the Australian, saying: “FIFA has constantly stated that the World Cup is coming to South Africa in 2010 and we need to know whether these reports that seem to be (fighting) this are the Australian government’s position.” He pointed out that “at one stage FIFA even said we were moving too fast and we were told ‘slow down’.”

Australia has already thrown the hat to host the 2018 tournament which FIFA is pondering on, but officials have already said they would be ready in four years’ time. In September, Football Federation Australia chief John O’Neill said: “We’ve got to be ready to be absolutely opportunistic. There are all sorts of question marks about infrastructure or requirements in South Africa. Australia does not have any of those problems.”

South Africa was, however, given a vote of confidence last week by an inspecting FIFA delegation, with one senior official, Horst Schmidt, saying that the country was further down the road “than previous hosts Germany at a similar stage”.

Sports and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile also blasted South Africans living in Australia for spearheading negative sentiments against the country, and a section of Australians for being hostile to the black-run government.

“The racism in them is just as bad as the racism in those spectators in England who were brandishing the flag of the old South African when they should have been supporting their national team”, he said referring to when Bafana Bafana played Egypt in London a month ago.

December 2006
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