Blatter: Have faith in Africa!

26/01/2010 at 12:56 9 comments

What we South Africans – well, the millions of optimists among us – knew already, has been once again confirmed by FIFA boss Sepp Blatter. “Apart from a few things here and there, these is no reason to doubt South Africa’s ability to stage the 2010 World Cup,” is what he said recently, well, along those lines. He added that concerns about transport and public transport will be ironed out in time.

“South Africa is a tourist country that welcomes 11-million visitors a year so I don’t know why there are doubts when it comes to football,” Blatter said at a news conference in Madrid after meeting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. “The issue (of transport) will be definitively resolved for the World Cup.”

One of the biggest worries when it comes to the preparations of the 2010 World Cup, which takes place in nine different host cities across South Africa in June and July 2010, is transport and public transport. Unlike many countries in Europe such as Germany, the host of the 2006 World Cup, South Africa lacks an extensive, efficient integrated public transport system that made travel easy at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. To make amends, South Africa has pumped millions and millions of rands in an integrated transport system including a Bus rapid Transport network in major host cities. The first phases of this system  have been finalized.

In addition, a high-speed rail link between Johannesburg and Pretoria – the Gautrain – is being constructed. Technically not part of the official 2010 preparations, the Gautrain’s first phase – a link between OR Tambo International Airport and Johannesburg’s city centre – is expected to be finished before the kick-off of the FIFA World Cup.

Blatter pointed to the Confederations Cup, which took place in South Africa in 2009, as evidence South Africa was ready to stage the larger World Cup. “Let’s have confidence in Africa and let’s end the doubts and go there together with the best players,” he said. “It’s justice for Africa which has given a great deal to international football.”

Source: Reuters

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