Blatter gives thumbs up to South Africa

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> FIFA president Sepp Blatter reiterated on Monday that South Africa will be ready to host the 2010 World Cup.

Updated: June 20, 2007 15:05 IST
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FIFA president Sepp Blatter reiterated on Monday that South Africa will be ready to host the 2010 World Cup.

At the start of a two-day visit, Blatter met with the local organising committee - led by Danny Jordaan - and CAF president Issa Hayatou, who has been appointed by FIFA to monitor preparations, before declaring that the first World Cup in Africa will be the best ever.

"Nothing, nothing can now be against this World Cup here in South Africa, nothing but God," Blatter said. "But we are asking the blessing of the Lord, we are asking the blessing of the whole football family that finally Africa can stage a World Cup.

"South Africa will deliver the best World Cup in the history (of the tournament). It will not be the same as Germany, Japan, or Korea, but will be the best ever because it will be the African World Cup."

Flanked by the leaders of the committee and the Confederation of African Football at Soccer City, which is expanding to a 95,000-seat venue for the opening match and final, Blatter said that stadium construction was "generally on track."

South Africa won the rights to host the 2010 World Cup three years ago. But since then it has been dogged by worries about delays in stadium and infrastructure construction, lack of public transport, and the high crime rate.

Blatter voiced concerns last year about the slow start to stadium construction and renovation, but work has now started and organizers claim to be ahead of schedule.

The government is also overhauling the transport system, while the country's main airports currently resemble building sites as their terminal and parking facilities are expanded.

The government plans to recruit thousands of extra police officers to combat violent crime, and is also confident that there will be enough accommodation for the 350,000 fans expected to attend the event.

On Tuesday, Blatter will hold talks with President Thabo Mbeki and meet with leaders in Cape Town, where the planned 68,000-seat stadium was the subject of prolonged political infighting and environmental concerns.

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