World Cup 2006 Features
South Africans impressed with Germany, look forward to 2010
By Benita van Eyssen Jul 5, 2006, 8:53 GMT
Johannesburg - Well before the final has been played at the football World Cup in Germany, South Africans have been saying that they were impressed with the way in which the European country was playing host.
South Africans have been paying close attention as the former apartheid state will be hosting the next tournament in 2010.
Local sport journalists assigned to the month-long event have been using terms such as 'German efficiency', 'well organized', 'reliable transport' and 'safe'.
Speaking from Stuttgart in Germany, a South African football official declared: 'So far, the World Cup's been typically German, efficiently handled'.
Even the conduct of German government officials who declined free tickets to matches was highlighted as an example for South Africa's fat-cat politicians.
Football fans who followed the tournament on public television have also been impressed.
However, as the event nears its end, many have begun asking themselves if they can match Germany's feat when South Africa become hosts in 2010.
Tempers flared in the wake of a newspaper article at the weekend that reported world football governing body FIFA was considering a contingency plan with Australia as an alternative to South Africa for the next tournament.
Rapport newspaper listed violent crime, the country's defective public transport network, its high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and a lack of guest accommodation as factors that put South Africa's position as 2010 World Cup hosts in jeopardy.
But FIFA South Africa chief Michael Palmer and the CEO of the local World Cup organizing committee, Danny Jordaan, dismissed the report as nonsense and accused those behind the negative sentiments around the country's ability to stage the event as 'doubters' and 'doomsayers'.
'We are very excited about South Africa being handed the World Cup formally in Berlin on Friday. We have to make sure the world understands the determination of South Africans as a whole to deliver a world-class event,' Jordaan said in a message published by the Star newspaper.
Jordaan, who was in Germany, urged people to 'compare South Africa today to Germany four years before the 2006 World Cup', saying: 'They will discover that, at every step, South Africa is ahead of its preparations.'
FIFA, he noted, had confirmed the country's readiness. Jordaan also dismissed what he said were miscalculations of the number of beds needed for World Cup visitors by observers with no idea of the nature of team support bases and spectator habits.
'There will always be Afro-pessimists who do not believe that African countries have the capacity or the right to host events of such international significance,' government spokesman James Maseko meanwhile told the Sowetan newspaper.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and South African President Thabo Mbeki will release the World Cup 2010 logo in Berlin on Friday at a ceremony that will be followed by a concert featuring South African song and dance.
South Africa plans to build four new football stadiums and upgrade existing facilities to ultimately provide 10 stadiums in nine cities.
Construction on the multi-million dollar modern Gautrain commuter rail system that will link the key city's of Johannesburg and Pretoria began recently.
In a bid to avoid seeing World Cup visitors fall victim to violent crime - that has been on the upsurge lately - additional police and police reservists are being trained.
Authorities plan to make available 176,000 police officers and 40,000 trained reservists by 2009.
In the last 12 years South Africa has hosted a number of large sporting events, including the cricket and rugby World Cup tournaments.
The country has also defied sceptics by coping relatively easily with the logistics for a string of United Nations conferences and events with high attendance figures over the same period.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur