Organizers: SAfrica never in danger of losing WCup

BY foxsports • November 9, 2009

World Cup organizers say there was never an emergency plan to move the 2010 tournament if South Africa were not ready. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the United States was among countries that could host at short notice. But World Cup organizer Danny Jordaan says the only way that could have happened was in the event of a natural disaster. Jordaan says his country would never have agreed to invest $4.5 billion in infrastructure if soccer's governing body imposed any other contingencies. "No country will sign that contract unless it is a secure contract," Jordaan said at a tourism conference in East London. "The organizing association has just one provision ... natural disaster destroying infrastructure to such an extent that the country cannot recover in time." Mexico managed to host the 1986 World Cup just eight months after an earthquake killed about 10,000 people in the country, although the tournament was then just half the size of the 32-nation edition set for South Africa. Concerns had been raised that South Africa would not be ready to host the competition after construction work on stadiums and transport infrastructure lagged behind schedule. A new rail line from Johannesburg's international airport to Pretoria has been curtailed and things were held up further this year by a construction workers' strike. But Jordaan said he was never worried. "Only an act of God that can move the World Cup away," Jordaan said. "God has been merciful, I suppose." Jordaan said that South Africa had regularly proved itself capable of hosting international showpieces, starting with rugby's 1995 World Cup - just a year after the country's first democratic elections. "The rugby World Cup, the cricket World Cup, the athletics World Cup and now the football World Cup," Jordaan said. "In golf too: the Presidents Cup and other major events. You cannot mention more than 10 countries in the world with that kind of event profile." Pointing to the fact that this year's Confederations Cup and British and Irish Lions rugby tour passed without serious incident, Jordaan again denied that the level of crime in South Africa would deter visitors or mar the first World Cup to be held in Africa. He said South African security forces got experience policing major events by assisting locals at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and last year's Beijing Olympics, but cautioned against fans straying from well-known tourist routes. "There's clearly a distinction to be made between societal crime in the country and event safety and security," Jordaan said. "They are two separate matters because when you deliver an event, you have all the information. "If I have 100 percent information of your movements, of your arrival and your departure, I can tell you we will secure you. If I have no information, well, it is more difficult."