Since the time FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that the 2010 World Cup would be staged in South Africa, people have wondered whether the Cup would actually be held in the African country.
Will South Africa be able to host the World Cup? Will people travel to a country riddled with crime problems for the biggest sporting event in the world? Will companies invest in the African nation?
2010 World Cup organizing committee chief Danny Jordaan has worked hard to squash negative assumptions, assuring everyone the World Cup in South Africa (SA) will be a huge success.
Still, Blatter has again stirred controversy by saying that SA could still lose the rights to host the 2010 World Cup in the event of a catastrophe. MY POV: What catastrophe?
However, Jordaan downplayed the concerns.
"I have spoken to Blatter and he reaffirmed that only God can prevent South Africa staging the World Cup in 2010," Jordaan said. "Blatter has gone out of his way to bring the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. It makes no sense for him to say he has another plan. Obviously FIFA must have a plan if we suffered a major natural catastrophe, but that is all."
Yet, Blatter keeps talking about a contingency. And there are problems.
According to the Zimbabwean, 'a group of committed and professional Zimbabwean journalists and friends from around the world who have come together to start the first physical newspaper for Zimbabweans in exile', there are growing fears that Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis could impact negatively on the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
This is the warning of analysts who believe the problems in President Robert Mugabe's country could spill into South Africa and the rest of the region, and thus make the region volatile ahead of the global football fiesta.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) director Gabriel Shumba said the prevailing situation did not bode well for the hosting of a successful event.
"The possibility of a civil war is very high (in Zimbabwe), which can only mean that the Zimbabwe issue will in practice impact massively on the region as a threat to regional peace," he said.
So where does the USA fit into all this?
According to boston.com, the USA could step in should South Africa be declared unable to host the Cup. (Yes, I'm having a little fun with the picture above ... I am American, by the way.)
"I would be a very negligent president if I didn't have a Plan B ready for the 2010 World Cup," Blatter said in an interview in Vienna Sunday.
A decision on confirming South Africa as the first African country to play host to the World Cup will be made following the Confederations Cup, scheduled for June 14-28, 2009.
Eight countries will participate - Brazil (South American champion), Egypt (Africa), Iraq (Asia), Italy (World Cup), South Africa (host), Spain (Europe), the US (CONCACAF), and an Oceania representative.
Stadium construction delays and security fears have raised concerns that South Africa might not be capable of hosting the event.
"We will decide after the test of the Confederations Cup and only a catastrophe would put the alternative plan into effect," Blatter said. "The World Cup is a logistical challenge and South Africa wants to shows the world it is able to do it."The US is among the few countries capable of hosting a World Cup on short notice.
MY POV: I understand Blatter's need to make contingency plans for the Cup. But does he need to talk about it every month?
Does he really think this instills confidence in the people of South Africa?
Look, we all know the problems hosting a World Cup in South Africa present.
From SA crime to regional difficulties, everyone involved knew hosting a Cup in SA wouldn't be easy.
But as Jordaan has said many times in rebuttal to Blatter's comments, the money is streaming in, the stadiums are being built and the infrastructure is growing.
Why harp about the need for contingency in every public comment about the 2010 Cup? How come Blatter didn't do this with Germany 2006 or Korea/Japan 2002? Why haven't we heard criticism of Brazil 2014? Brazil's soccer federation and soccer infrastructure is in shambles. Crime is just as rampant in the South American nation. Why no talk of a contingency there?
If FIFA wanted SA to prove their worth in 2009 with the Confederations Cup, I wish they had just named the USA the host of the 2010 Cup from the beginning.
I see SA having to pass a 'quiz' in 2009 as a slap in the face. They're doing what needs to be done. Why keep examining every fiber of their build-up? Does anyone in FIFA have confidence in SA?
What do you think? Please leave comments and opinions.