Afcon costs rise to half a billion rand

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FNB_Stadium

Reuters

FNB Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies and matches.

Johannesburg – Five cities, 23 days, 32 matches… and half-a-billion rand.

By the time the final whistle blows on the Africa Cup of Nations on February 10, government departments will have spent at least R542m on everything from “creative programmes” for the opening ceremony to immigration control, law enforcement, communications and T-shirts.

Although the soccer tournament is not really a surprise, most of the funding is listed as “unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure” in October’s adjusted national Budget.

South Africa was due to host Afcon 2017, but last year swopped with the original 2013 host, Libya.

The first two matches and the final are in Joburg; the opening match on January 19 and the final on February 10. Other matches will be played in Port Elizabeth, Mbombela, Rustenburg and Durban. The matches will be played in the stadiums used for the 2010 World Cup.

Not all the spending is noted in the Budget, only the additional spending in the adjusted Budget.

There may be other spending as well. For example, the Department of Transport last week advertised for a service provider to help it develop a transport operation plan for Afcon; this is not specified in the department’s budget.

Last week The Star reported that the City of Joburg has started spending its share, which comes from the Sport and Recreation conditional grant. A Budget document on the revised spending warns that municipalities must have an operational plan that is approved by their council and complies with the hosting minimum requirements.

Joburg’s spending plans include advertising to boost ticket sales, safety brochures for spectators, and branded wristbands, T-shirts, soccer jerseys, golf umbrellas and caps.

City of Joburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said the city was “ready and able to provide all of the support services” needed.

“Joburg has proved itself to be Africa’s sporting capital of choice,” said councillor Chris Vondo, the MMC responsible for community development in the City of Joburg.

“Afcon offers us another opportunity to showcase our world-class sporting facilities, including the FNB Stadium and the four training venues, the Orlando, Milpark, Rand and Dobsonville stadiums. It’s also an opportunity to showcase our city and to demonstrate our readiness to host events of this nature.”

Vondo said a capacity crowd was expected for the opening and closing matches at the 94 700-seat stadium on the edge of Soweto. Bafana Bafana play Cape Verde in the opening game.

Modingoane said spectators would be able to use the Gautrain, Rea Vaya buses, an extra 135 buses and passenger trains to get to and from the stadium. Park-and-ride facilities will be set up.

Vondo said safety was a priority. “Emergency services at the games will be particularly strong, and will consist of fire engines, operations controllers, disaster management specialists, event safety officers and medics on bikes.

“The City of Joburg and its people made the key matches of the 2010 Fifa World Cup into events to remember, and we’re looking to creating more lifetime memories with the visitors to our city during the Afcon tournament,” he said.


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