It is a pity that the SA Football Association (Safa) will announce the host cities for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament on Thursday without finalising the financial implications of the event with the eThekwini municipality, according to Mayor James Nxumalo.
On Thursday Safa was to announce which cities will host the tournament from January 19 to February 10.
Nxumalo said that by late Wednesday afternoon there was still no indication from Safa as to how much the association would finance the host cities.
“It is a pity that we haven’t finalised the financial details, but we are confident that they (Safa) will come through,” he said.
Municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole, who said last week that the city would not be held to ransom by Safa, said the initial price tag for Durban hosting the tournament had been slashed from R180 million to R40m.
Nxumalo said on Wednesday the city was optimistic that Safa would foot half of this bill.
“We are also negotiating with province to also have them (financially) assisting us,” he said.
He added that if both Safa and the provincial government agreed to their financial request, the city could end up paying far less than expected.
When asked why the city had agreed to sign an in-principle agreement when the City of Cape Town refused to sign until it knew exactly how much the event would cost, Nxumalo said Durban had signed reluctantly after being pressured by the sport and culture MEC.
“We submitted our agreement very late because we were not too sure. We only signed after the intervention from the MEC,” he said, adding that the city had however raised their concerns, including clarity on whether Safa would financially assist the host cities with safety, security and transportation.
In the letter addressed to the local organising committee’s chief executive, Mvuzo Mbebe last month, Sithole stated that the city would not be able to provide free public transport to ticket holders, nor could it provide a fan park for the event – unless it could be done within the available budget.
In a written response to the city, Mbebe dismissed most of the city’s requests, saying it would be responsible for stadium security and services provided by metro police.
He also said that the eThekwini Municipality would be required to provide additional space if needed, to meet the tournament’s requirements.
Nxumalo said the city had noted Mbebe’s response, but would continue to persuade him otherwise.
“The negotiations are far from over,” he said.
“But we’re hoping that the finer details will be ironed out soon,” Nxumalo said.
The city, said Nxumalo, would also lobby to stage either the opening or closing game at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“We want one of the two because we know how many fans these games will attract,” he said.
Three stadiums in Durban, including, Sugar Ray in Clermont, King Zwelithini in Umlazi and recently renovated Princess Magogo in KwaMashu would be used for training by the teams, Nxumalo said.