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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
South Africa defends finals bid
South Africa's 2010 World Cup logo
South Africa's hosting of the finals has come under intense scrutiny

The South African government has hit out at reports casting doubt on its ability to host the 2010 World Cup finals.

Government spokesman Themba Maseko said on Thursday that 'sensationalist headlines' misrepresented Fifa president Sepp Blatter's remarks that other countries were ready to take over.

In a BBC interview earlier this week, Blatter said: 'we definitely must have a possibility to go somewhere else, but it must be a natural catastrophe.'

Blatter listed the United States, England, Japan, Spain, Mexico and Australia as potential alternatives - but stressed he was confident South Africa would be ready to stage an 'excellent World Cup.'

"It is regrettable, and in the case of the South African media inexplicable, that Sepp Blatter's unambiguous comments ... were misrepresented as Blatter expressing doubt in our country's capacity to stage the World Cup," Maseko said after a cabinet meeting.

Maseko said the cabinet had 'expressed full confidence' that the stadiums and infrastructure will be ready in time for the 2010 finals, the first time they will be held in Africa.

Since South Africa won the rights to host the tournament in 2004, the country has been dogged by doubts about its ability to stage the event.

It faces logistical problems in overhauling its transport system, updating infrastructure and boosting hotel capacity in order to cope with the expected influx of visitors.

There are also concerns that the stadiums will not be ready on time - with the proposed semi-final venue in Cape Town proving particularly problematic due to a combination of political infighting and court challenges.

Local organizing chief Danny Jordaan has repeatedly stressed that South Africa is on, if not ahead of, schedule.

South African officials also insist that they will take the necessary measures to beef up security and ensure that visitors do not fall victim to the country's rampant crime.

The 2010 World Cup finals are due to take place between 11 June and 11 July.

Blatter backs South Africa again
02 May 07 |  African
Fifa makes 2010 Cup back-up plan
30 Apr 07 |  Internationals


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