A few weeks ago, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the world's economic meltdown would not affect the 2010 World Cup at all.
Now, South African organizers of the 2010 World Cup expressed concern Friday about the effect the global financial crisis will have on the tournament, which is already running well over budget.
Back to reality, guys ...
The South African government has had to allocate an extra $136 million for stadium construction because of rising prices, pushing total costs to more than 30 billion rand. That is 10 times the amount originally budgeted.
The South African rand has fallen about 30 percent against the dollar in recent weeks and as the U.S. and Europe slide into recession, there are concerns fans will not have money to travel or buy tickets.
Danny Jordaan, head of the local World Cup organizing committee, said organizers were taking a "wait and see approach" but that there were indications that the world financial outlook will be more positive by 2010.
"Even if you accept people have fewer dollars in their pockets, those dollars will buy more rands. So people may still travel because the destination becomes cheaper," he said.South Africa has been hoping that the World Cup will act as a catalyst for economic growth and a boom in tourism with an anticipated 350,000 visitors expected to flood into the country for the monthlong event.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA's secretary general, said that while football fans may be facing tighter times, tickets for the most-watched tournament in the world will still be sought after.
Valcke also gave reassurances that FIFA's finances were in good shape and would not be affected by the turmoil in world markets.
"We are not afraid even as we recognize there is a very strong crisis," he said. "Sport is one safe business that gives something when all else is going wrong.