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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 18:07 GMT
Australian talk irks South Africa
Danny Jordaan
Jordaan is unhappy with recent Australian comments

Organisers of the 2010 World Cup have complained to Australian officials over suggestions that South Africa's preparations are in trouble and that Australia could step in instead.

Danny Jordaan, head of the Local Organising Committee, said a letter has been sent to the Australian foreign ministry over recent remarks that the finals are in doubt.

"We find it totally unfair, especially if it is coming from a government official," said Jordaan.

"They have done it more than once."

Australia has already stated its intent to host the 2018 tournament but officials have also said they would be ready in four years' time.

There are all sorts of question marks about infrastructure or requirements in South Africa. Australia doesn't have those problems

Football Federation Australia chief John O'Neill

In September, Football Federation Australia chief John O'Neill said "we've got to be ready to be absolutely opportunistic."

"There are all sorts of question marks about infrastructure or requirements in South Africa. Australia doesn't have those problems," he said.

The premier of New South Wales, Morris Iemma, also infuriated South African officials after stating that Australia has "the capacity to step into the breach at a moment's notice."

"If it can't come off with South Africa, and there are doubts that it can, then we are by far the best alternative," Australia's Daily Telegraph quoted Iemma as saying.

A spokesman for the South African foreign ministry has said such comments are 'totally unacceptable'.

"We have been concerned about the negative comments and articles about the country's capability to host the event," said Ronnie Mamoepa.

"There is no question about it. The event will be held in South Africa."

South Africa's preparations were given a vote of confidence on Wednesday by a visiting Fifa delegation, with one senior official saying they were further down the road than previous hosts Germany at a similar stage.

"Fifa is very happy and satisfied with the progress made," said Horst Schmidt, who is to take up a new post as Fifa's coordinator in South Africa.

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22 Nov 06 |  African
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