Tuesday, July 8, 2008
With today's news that the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth has been removed as a venue from the 2009 Confederations Cup schedule on the heels of FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments last week, the South Africa 2010 project has lived through a bad week.
Regardless, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke seemed optimistic after the 2010 Local Organizing Committee's Board meeting held in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
"We (FIFA) are happy with the progress made by South Africa so far," said Valcke.
"All the deadlines we set have been reached and met. We are confident that South Africa will be ready to host a hugely successful event in 2010."
He stated that remarks made by FIFA president Blatter during the recent Euro 2008 Championships were not meant as a threat to South Africa.
"The president (Blatter) made it clear that only a catastrophe would prevent South Africa hosting the 2010 spectacle. We had a problem in 2003 in China when an earthquake forced FIFA to move the Women's World Cup to the United States. Only that type of disaster will force FIFA's hand on South Africa. One must realise that FIFA organize 20 world cups in four years."
"The main event is the men's World Cup which is the diamond that pays for all the other events and we cannot allow anything to happen and lose out as the other tournaments which are mainly used for development of soccer will suffer."
Valcke declined to disclose which country had been chosen should South Africa suffer a major tragedy. MY POV: USA? Or as one commentator on the last post indicated, Germany??
"There are only two people at FIFA who know the name of that country. One is the president and the other is me. I am not at liberty to disclose any details."
Unfortumately, the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will not be ready for the World Cup dress rehearsal, the 2009 Confederations Cup. South Africa's 2010 World Cup Local Organizing Committee chairperson Irvin Khoza said the stadium would be ready in time for the 2010 Cup.
"We were forced to remove the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium from the Confederations Cup as we could not get a guarantee that it would be ready by end of March 2009 despite phenomenal progress being made," said Khoza.
"It was the only new stadium we intended using for the Confederations Cup. It will definitely be ready well ahead of schedule to host the 2010 World Cup."
Valcke agreed: "There was only one decision we could take after listening to the report on the progress of Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today and that was we could not take a risk.
"Therefore the stadium will no longer be part of the Confederation Cup. The event is a big test and allows us to correct any faults before the hosting of the World Cup."
MY POV: It still sounds like these guys are talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Again, I think confidence in the SA project is what is needed, not veiled threats.