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Is South Africa ready for 2010?

South Africa 2010

By Simon Austin

There's no turning back now. Talk of a plan B can be forgotten.

In exactly a year's time, the opening match of the 2010 World Cup will be played at the 94,000 Soccer City stadium on the outskirts of Soweto in Johannesburg.

Tournament chief Danny Jordaan told BBC Sport: "The stadiums are just about ready, tickets are being sold and all of our plans are in place. The dream is reality, the game is on."

The question now is whether South Africa can put on a successful World Cup. Will fears about crime, inadequate infrastructure and the pricing out of ordinary fans be realised?

Or is Jordaan right to believe it will be a "festival of football" that can help to transform the standing and fortunes of the country?

STADIA

South Africa will have 10 world-class stadia for the tournament.

Five will be brand new - Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was opened earlier this week, the venues in Durban, Polkwane and Nelspruit are expected to be completed by October and the fifth, Green Point in Cape Town, is set to open in February next year.

The showpiece venue, Soccer City, has been upgraded so much that it is practically another brand new stadium.

BBC

The four other World Cup venues - Ellis Park, Loftus Versfeld, Royal Bafokeng and Free State - have been upgraded and will host matches at this month's Confederations Cup.

Several of the stadia are stunning. Moses Mabhida in Durban has a towering arch reminiscent of Wembley and a cable car to the beach front. Green Point is the only stadium in the world to have a glass roof, according to Cape Town's 2010 technical director Dave Hugo, and Soccer City has a distinctive design inspired by African pottery.

This hasn't come cheap. Moses Mabhida and Green Point each cost more than 3 billion Rand (currently £228m). Most of the work on the venues has also come in massively over budget.

The upgrade to Free State in Bloemfontein for example, which was originally estimated at R33m, is expected to actually cost R305m. And there are still some problems about funding, such as a wrangle over how to finance the R500m shortfall in Durban.

Having overcome strikes and concerns about the safety of construction workers at the venues, the biggest remaining concern is about legacy. Will the stadia be used properly after the World Cup or will they become expensive white elephants?

World Cup 'on schedule' say organisers

Jordaan is confident most of them will be used by football and rugby teams and points out that South Africa has submitted a bid for the 2015 Rugby World Cup on the back of the building project.

He also wants Super 14 teams like the Natal Sharks, who play in the Kings Park Stadium close to Moses Mabhida in Durban, to move into the new venues.

Jordaan admits it might be difficult to persuade teams to move because of the "emotional attachment" they have to their homes but he believes it will happen eventually.

"Stadiums have a life cycle between 50 and 70 years," he says. "Some of the rugby stadiums are coming to the end of their cycles. When you spend time in a five-star hotel, you wonder why anyone would want to go back to the one star."

Jordaan's biggest worry is about about the future use of the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane and Mbombela in Nelspruit. Each cost more than R1bn to build yet there are no local teams capable of filling them after the World Cup.

"They are stadiums I am worried about," he admits. "We have to look at how to strengthen football in those areas, because there is tremendous support for the sport but not for the local teams."

CRIME

This has been a major talking point since the 2010 World Cup was awarded to South Africa in May 2004.

Fears about South Africa's crime problem resurfaced last month when the chief executive of G4S said his company, the biggest security outfit in the world, would not work at the World Cup because of security concerns.

South Africa crime statistics 2007/8

"We are not going to be involved because we don't think security is going to be that good - they are not that well organised yet," Nick Buckles told Reuters.

Most startlingly of all, he said G4S regarded South Africa as the most dangerous country in the world, ahead of even Iraq and Afghanistan.

G4S told BBC Sport Buckles was talking specifically about the danger of transporting cash in South Africa but, nevertheless, the damage had been done and Jordaan loses his usual calm and composure when asked about the comments.

"There is no other word to describe them than nonsense," he snaps. "Why would they submit a tender to work at the World Cup, as they did, if it is the most dangerous country in the world?

SIMON AUSTIN'S BLOG

"And they are working in South Africa. Why do they stay there? There is no-one in the world who believes that nonsense."

How serious is crime in South Africa then?

The murder rate was 38.6 per 100,000 people in 2007/8, which is down 40% from 1995, but still significantly higher than almost every other country in the world. The rate in England and Wales, for example, was 1.43 per 100,000 from 2005 to 2007.

Dr Johann Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, which is a non-profit, independent organisation in South Africa, admits the country has "a serious crime problem" but emphasises the situation is improving.

"Most serious crime has been in decline since 2002," he told BBC Sport. "Robbery and carjackings - which have increased every year since 2004 - are the major problems."

Cricket World Cup v Fifa World Cup
Total police numbers:
2003: 130,000; 2010: 193,000
Event police: 2003: 4,600; 2010: 32,000
Duration: 2003: 6 wks; 2010: 4
Matches: 2003: 33; 2010: 64
Murder rate: (per 100,000) 2003: 47.4; 2010: 38.6
Aggravated robbery: (per 100,000) 2003: 279; 2010: 247
Car jacking: (per 100,000) 2003: 32.3; 2010: 30

The rate of aggravated robbery in South Africa in 2007/8 was 247 per 100,000 people, compared with a rate of the less serious offence of robbery in England and Wales of 200 per 100,000 people.

Crime is worst in the biggest city, Johannesburg, yet there are problems elsewhere. A 2007 survey of 1,200 people living in the vicinity of Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, which is a venue for both the Confederations and World Cup, found that 30% of the sample had been the victims of assault, rape or violent armed robbery.

So what is being done to safeguard fans, teams and officials at the World Cup?

Dr Burger says: "South Africa has hosted 146 major events since 1994 without major incident and the operational plan for the World Cup is more comprehensive than anything before.

"The government has invested R1.3bn in security, providing an additional 41,000 police and 45,000 stewards.

"There will be sophisticated control centres at each of the 10 venues, mobile water cannons, helicopters and additional cars. Andre Pruis, who will be in charge of World Cup security, is an extremely experienced and capable operational director."

TICKETS

If fans do have concerns about security, it hasn't stopped them buying tickets for the World Cup, with more than 630,000 already sold to fans in 188 countries.

There have been 228,000 requests from England alone, but will ordinary South Africans be able to watch matches at their own World Cup?

A fan with a Confederations Cup ticket
Jordaan says every effort has been made to help ordinary fans buy tickets

Jordaan insists South Africa "will have the cheapest World Cup tickets since Mexico '86" with a special tier of "category four" tickets available for South African residents alone. They will cost R140 (currently £10.60) for the group matches, with fans helped by the fact organisers have fixed the exchange rate at a favourable R7 to the US dollar.

Yet the prices are still quite expensive by the standards of South Africa, where a Premier League match costs R20 and internationals R30.

Jordaan counters by pointing out 120,000 tickets will be given away free - a third to the construction workers who built the stadia and the rest to "ordinary football fans who are low earners".

ACCOMMODATION & TRANSPORT

Organisers estimate that 430,000 fans will descend on South Africa next June. Will they all have somewhere to stay?

Fifa says a total of 55,000 rooms will be needed and that 40,000 are already secured, from backpackers lodges and guesthouses to five-star hotels.

Jordaan admits Nelspruit and Polokwane have posed the biggest problem in terms of accommodation and that fans will have to be bussed in and out of the matches there, mainly from nearby game reserves like Kruger.

There has been huge government investment in transport ahead of the World Cup, with R11bn spent on road building, a light rail network from Johannesburg airport to the Sandton business area, airport expansions and the manufacturing of 1,000 new buses.

There is also Gautrain, a rapid rail link from Johannesburg to Pretoria, which was started in September 2006.

Johannesburg's bus rapid transit system, which will provide dedicated lanes for buses, has provoked most controversy. It was supposed to have started this month, but protests from taxi drivers have delayed it.

An astonishing 50% of workers in Johannesburg currently commute by taxi - which are often more like mini-buses, capable of holding up to 15 people - with only 4% using the public bus system. The taxi drivers fear they will lose their jobs because of BRT and have vowed to strike and disrupt the system.

Jordaan says he is "sure a solution can be found to the problem".

CHANGING THE FACE OF SOUTH AFRICA?

There are hopes this World Cup, unlike its predecessors in Germany and Japan and Korea, can transform the fortunes of its host.

Spending on infrastructure for the tournament has already had a huge effect, with 415,000 men and women being employed to work on projects during an economic slump. Thirty percent of the contracts have gone to small and medium-sized businesses, according to Jordaan.

Improved roads and airports should also help to attract international businesses to the country. Former Tottenham Hotspur and England defender Gary Mabbutt, an ambassador for 2010, told BBC Sport: "A lot of big companies left South Africa during the apartheid era.

Danny Jordaan
We dreamt that one day South Africa would host the World Cup and I feel blessed to have helped make this happen

Danny Jordaan

"Since democracy in 1994 they have been slowly trickling back, but hopefully the World Cup will turn that into a torrent."

There has also been an attempt to use the World Cup to improve the lives of those living in the townships. The Orlando Stadium in Soweto has had a complete revamp and will be used as a training base.

The "20 centres for 2010" scheme is aiming to raise money to build artificial football pitches, classrooms and healthcare facilities for youngsters in the townships. They will focus on combating Aids and HIV in particular.

Jordaan, who is a marketing expert by profession, also thinks the World Cup can help to "rebrand" South Africa.

"When people from overseas describe the country, the brand essence is largely negative," he says. "By hosting such a major event, we want to attempt to change that, to show that we can stage a magnificent World Cup that showcases the best of South Africa."

Jordaan's personal journey encapsulates many of the changes South Africa has undergone in the last 20 or 30 years.

The likeable 57-year-old is a former anti-apartheid activist who served as an MP for the ANC after South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

"At first we dreamt that one day South Africa would be a non-racial, democratic society," he says. "Then, as sports fans, that one day South Africa would be a member of Fifa, after being expelled in 1976.

"And finally, we dreamt that the country would host the World Cup one day. That dream has now been fulfilled and I feel blessed to have been able to help make this happen."

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see also
World Cup 2010 map
05 Dec 09 |  Football
World Cup: One year to go
11 Jun 09 |  Africa
World Cup 2010: Your views
11 Jun 09 |  Africa
First new 2010 stadium opened
07 Jun 09 |  African
SA 2010 venues 'ready by October'
26 Mar 09 |  African
2010 World Cup's transport legacy
23 Nov 08 |  African
Three countries on 2010 standby
10 Jul 08 |  African
Blatter dispels SA 2010 doubts
29 Oct 06 |  African
Mbeki makes World Cup vow
24 Oct 06 |  African
Beckenbauer issues 2010 warning
20 Sep 06 |  African
SA 2010 World Cup venues named
18 Mar 06 |  African


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