SA will host 2010 World Cup, says Blatter
By Sivuyile Mangxamba, Murray Williams and Jermaine Craig
The 2010 World Cup will be staged in South Africa - that's final - and you can take it from Fifa chief Sepp Blatter.
Blatter sent an unequivocal message that banishes persistent speculation that the event could be moved if South Africa fell behind schedule.
Blatter said: "Plan A is the 2010 World Cup will be staged in South Africa.
"Plan B is the 2010 World Cup will be staged in South Africa.
"Plan C is the 2010 World Cup will be staged in South Africa."
Blatter's words were quoted in Cape Town on Wednesday by Fifa communications director Markus Siegler.
Siegler said Blatter had been due to address parliament ahead of this week's 2010 Kick-off Workshop at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, but had been unable to do so for health reasons.
On Blatter's behalf, Siegler said: "You are absolutely on schedule, you're absolutely on track. You're even more advanced than the Germans were four years ago.
"Any doubts are completely unfair. This country - and I know this country - is absolutely capable."
Germany, the previous hosts, had also faced "a lot of problems", he said.
"At least South Africa's economy is growing - Germany's is not."
Siegler said South Africa stood to benefit enormously from the "vast publicity" the tournament would bring.
"All the cities will be put on the world map," he said.
Hundreds of hours of programming on television channels around the world would provide an extraordinary opportunity to showcase South Africa's culture, people and beautiful landscapes.
"I know you had the Cricket World Cup and the Rugby World Cup, but this in on a different level."
Among the concerns around the tournament plans are South Africa's high crime rate.
But Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told Fifa delegates on Wednesday that he was confident spectators would be safe.
Nqakula said government was gaining the upper hand in the war against crime.
More than 500 suspects had been arrested in the past two months for more than 800 crimes, including murder, rape and robbery.
Much of the discussion at the workshop was held behind closed doors.
President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday led a delegation of government ministers to meet Fifa officials, other 2010 partners and commercial sponsors at the workshop.
Cape Town mayor Helen Zille said afterwards: "I was very encouraged by the response to Cape Town's preparations."
But on Thursday the City of Cape Town was expected to be told even more money may be needed to finance the building of the proposed Green Point Stadium, which so far has a budget of about R3-billion.
This was because engineers have discovered that in order to dig the foundations as deep as required, they would have to deal with a layer of bedrock.
But Zille promised that the implications would not be "dramatic".
Elsewhere on the money front, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel was expected to reveal the government's financial contribution for stadiums and transport infrastructure in his medium-term budget statement today.
Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi said Manuel's budget adjustments would "indicate resource allocations to allow construction to begin in January".
The budget allocated would enable South Africa to deliver a world-class tournament.
The tournament organising committee has told the Treasury it needs R8.3-billion to build or upgrade the 10 stadiums required for Africa's first World Cup.