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On the eve of tomorrow's Confederations Cup kickoff in Joburg, Fifa president Sepp Blatter has urged the world to trust South Africa.
He said the world, specifically in Europe, should stop being racist and jealous of South Africa.
"Why the hell are there question marks about football?" he asked.
"Why? Is it envy? Let us go and trust a little."
He said most of the doubts were peddled by some sections of the foreign media who were jealous.
Meanwhile Local Organising Committee chief communication officer Rich Mkhondo has promised a "uniquely African but world-class" opening to the Confed Cup at Coca-Cola Park tomorrow.
The theme is "telling a story through music" with music from eight African countries included.
The show is hi-tech and logistics crews have worked hard to ensure intricate sequences and other elements flow smoothly.
Also working hard have been 600 children who are participating in the ceremony.
By yesterday, 85 percent of tickets for the opening match at 4pm between Bafana Bafana and Iraq had been sold. Mkhondo expected that, by the time the opening ceremony started at 2.30pm, the stadium would be full.
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma visited OR Tambo International Airport to check on facilities and said it was ready to receive visitors to the country. An event visa, which will allow soccer fans to gain entry to the country speedily, is being piloted with Egyptian spectators during the Confed Cup.
If successful, it will be rolled out for all visiting spectators during the 2010 World Cup, she said.
Yesterday Blatter intimated that much of the constant questioning about the security situation around South Africa and its successful hosting of both tournaments was tinged by racism.
"As soon as we pulled out the piece of paper with the name 'South Africa' on it (at the bid announcement in Zurich in 2004), they started asking 'why'," said Blatter. I had a meeting with Swiss television this week and even they (still ask) if I am optimistic about South Africa.
"Now you are here. You have been here every year. There are over 40 million people here and there are millions of visitors who come here for tourism. Why do they trust Africa?" he asked.
"Let us witness now this Confederations Cup, its organisation, how people are moved to the stadiums, security and so on," he said, applauding the Local Organising Committee for their work.
Meanwhile, at a damp Super Stadium in Atteridgeville, the Azzurri (Italy) ran circles around the Tshwane XI in a friendly warm-up game last night.
The local team, comprising players from Supersport United and AmaTuks and sporting bright yellow kit, conceded six goals but did not manage to put any in the back of the World Champions' net.
When the local lads touched the ball the crowd erupted into cheers, but the boisterous Italian supporters countered those cheers when the Azzurri kept putting balls past goalkeeper Siya Mngoma.
Randomly dotted around the stadium both Italian and South African supporters were brandishing vuvuzelas, challenging each other to see who could make the most noise.
Dressed in an Italian shirt, Fayyadph Ebrahim, 11, said he wished Bafana Bafana would do well, but believed it may take a few more years to reach the level of the current world champions.
Mkhondo has urged South Africans not to miss the opportunity to see world-renowned soccer stars in action. "Make sure you attend at least one game, if not all This may be a once-in-a-life time opportunity, don't miss it." said Mkhondo.
Danny Jordaan, CEO of the LOC, said hosting a successful tournament depended in part on the performance of the national team. "The Confed Cup will be a test for the national team."
A Soccer World Cup analyst has cautioned that the debate should no longer be about whether South Africa could successfully host the tournament, but rather whether the country could win hearts and minds across the globe.
"Everyone was focusing so much on getting ready, that destination branding has become a failed opportunity. There is no doubt that the Confederations Cup will be successful. But it won't be memorable," said Nikolaus Eberl, 2010 analyst and CEO of brand alignment company Brandovation.
He warned South Africa had already missed the boat for "destination marketing" with tomorrow's event and needed to pull out all stops to ensure it didn't fail with 2010.
"The local (residents) need to be turned into co-hosts. It (The Confederations Cup) is very low-key right now. We need to move past the readiness debate and give it our best. Performance and customer care during the Confederations Cup will be integral," he said.
Eberl added that Bafana Bafana had to beat Iraq and New Zealand and make it to the semi-final to ensure that team spirit prevailed in the country.
Around 70% tickets to the Confederations Cup have been sold, a figure, which Blatter said compared well to Germany.
Eberl said SA had been marketed well externally, but not internally.
"The official message is Ke Nako - 'It's time to host the champions' - but it is a bit generic. We need a message and brand promise that engages people emotionally. We don't have it. Johannesburg has to do a lot more to attract visitors. It has to make a concerted effort to showcase its touch points. These include the people, the arts and culture and the key sites.
"The biggest priority is to reverse the perception that South Africa is unsafe - which was still a very popular view overseas.