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While Durban is optimistic about hosting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) soccer tournament at a cost of “about R40 million”, Cape Town has refused to sign a host city agreement until it knows exactly how much the event will cost.
Speaking before a national announcement on Thursday on which cities could host the event, which starts on January 19, eThekwini city manager Sibusiso Sithole told The Mercury on Tuesday that the city remained concerned about the financial implications and was still negotiating with the SA Football Association (Safa).
Mayor James Nxumalo, however, was optimistic that Durban would definitely be among the host cities.
“I am adamant and confident that Durban will be announced as one of the host cities. Durban will not be left out because the local organising committee inspected our city and grounds and was happy.”
Nxumalo said he would understand if the city was left out of hosting the opening and closing ceremony because “that usually happens in Johannesburg or Cape Town”.
“I am sure that Durban will host some of the games. The committee also praised us on our security.”
Despite signing the host city agreement, however, Nxumalo said the city had placed “certain conditions” on Safa.
“One of the conditions is that Safa must pay for the transport and accommodation of the teams.”
The city would offer three stadiums: Moses Mabhida, Princess Magogo in KwaMashu and Sugar Ray Xulu in Clermont.
Nxumalo added that hosting the tournament at ratepayers’ expense was not an option as it was a national event.
Sithole had written to Afcon’s local organising committee chief executive, Mvuzo Mbebe, over concerns about the financial implications of hosting matches in the Afcon tournament, saying the deal should not pose a financial burden for the city.
Sithole had also said the cost of hosting the tournament in Durban had dropped from R180m to “about R40m”.
“We are still trying to negotiate with Safa on sharing costs, but we have not reached an agreement… The costs need to be clarified,” he said.
“(Costs) will depend on whether we host the opening or closing ceremony or have fan parks like we did during the 2010 soccer World Cup. A lot must be considered.”
Cape Town, however, appears to have taken a tougher stance.
Our Cape Town correspondent reports that the city will take a decision on hosting the event only once the national government has given certain guarantees.
The decision to name host cities was postponed last month and Afcon organisers said the national government would make an announcement on guarantees tomorrow.
The announcement of host cities was originally set for a month earlier, but the Afcon local organising committee pushed the date ahead when Joburg and Cape Town said there was no clear indication of the probable cost.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the Treasury would decide what the guarantees would be for host cities.
Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for events, marketing and tourism, Grant Pascoe, said: “We haven’t heard anything yet. A cabinet task team is going to inform us what role the government will play and what the guarantees are. They can’t make an announcement yet on host cities. So we haven’t signed yet, we’re still waiting.”
The city wanted a guarantee from the Treasury to cover at least 50 percent of the costs.
The city also asked that the local organising committee disclose to host cities what it was receiving from the Confederation of African Football, and failing this disclosure, the city was asking that CAF and/or the local organising committee contribute 25 percent towards the event costs. The city and the Western Cape government would be able to cover 25 percent of the costs. - The Mercury