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Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 12:06 UK

Hosting problems

By Mark Gleeson
Football Correspondent, Johannesburg

Mandela and desmond TuTu with world cup
South Africa will be the first African country to host the World Cup

The decision to remove Port Elizabeth as one of the venues for next year's Confederations Cup comes as the latest setback in a mounting list of potential embarrassments for World Cup hosts South Africa.

The 2010 organising committee decided on Tuesday to remove the coastal city from the list of five venues to host next year's competition, an eight-team test event ahead of the World Cup finals.

Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay stadium will not be ready in time for the competition from 14-28 June, the 2010 board decided, and was scrapped from the tournament.

The decision follows on violent strike action at the Nelspruit venue last month plus concern that the reconstruction of other key venues is behind schedule.

It has also been admitted in the last days that the total bill for the World Cup will be almost double its original estimate and will significantly deplete South Africa's national purse.

Top South African commentators are for the first time suggesting the costs of the event might be too much for the country.

Nothing is ready yet but it all has to be done in time for 2010

Jerome Valke

South Africans enthusiastically embraced the idea of hosting the World Cup but other infra structure requirements, like housing, electricity and other basic services are still in short supply for much of its population.

The 2010 World Cup Organising Committee chairman Irvin Khoza said concern over the time needed for an imported roof to be installed at the Port Elizabeth venue had motivated the decision.

Trying to put a positive spin on it, he added: "We acknowledge the progress that has been made on the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in recent months.

"With the complex nature of the construction and erection of the roof of the stadium, however, it was decided that it would be too high a risk to keep the stadium in the Confederations Cup schedule.

"For that reason it's important to allow them to concentrate on preparing for the 2010 World Cup finals," Khoza added.

There was also concern over the progress at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg, another venue for the Confederation Cup.

Irvin Khoza
Khoza says that the stadium will be ready for the 2010 World Cup

Khoza also admitted a failure to sign a contract with the owners of the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria for the use of the venue for the Confederation Cup stalled its planned refurbishment for several months, but said this had now been resolved.

Several vehicles were burned and police attacked by striking construction workers in Nelspruit late last month in the latest of a long series of wildcat strikes.

Workers have been seeking extra overtime and transport allowances.

Earlier this week officials admitted the total bill for the 2010 World Cup could be as high as US$1bn.

This is dramatically up on the initial budget of US$500m when the country won the right to host the World Cup more than four years ago now.

This has led to questioning about the wisdom of staging the event.

Top social commentator Jon Qwelane wrote last week that South Africa should withdraw as hosts as the money would be better spent on social services.

Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted a taxing time lay ahead and said Fifa have groups checking on progress.

"We have planned a full inspection tour at the end of September. I have a long list of 'to do' items on my desk and the challenge is to get it all done in time," Valcke said.

"Nothing is ready yet but it all has to be done in time for 2010," he added.

see also
Port Elizabeth stadium dropped
11 Jul 08 |  African
Two years to SA 2010 kick-off
10 Jun 08 |  African
Jordaan condemns SA violence
23 May 08 |  African
SA seeks to share 2010 World Cup
12 Apr 07 |  African
Nelson Mandela stadium on track
06 Mar 08 |  African
SA 2010 World Cup strike threat
13 Nov 07 |  Africa
Jordaan dismisses 2010 concerns
21 Sep 06 |  African
Beckenbauer issues 2010 warning
20 Sep 06 |  African
Blatter to fire up SA World Cup
16 Sep 06 |  African

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