Doubt over South Africa 2010
Luke Harding in Berlin
Wednesday July 12, 2006
Fifa executives have voiced "serious" doubts about whether South Africa will be able to host the next World Cup in 2010 and have discussed a radical contingency plan that would see the United States stage the tournament instead, it was reported in Germany yesterday.
According to the German sports news agency SID, Fifa officials have privately raised worries over South Africa's continuing failure to prepare for the tournament and have also discussed the possibility of staging the tournament again in Germany.
Fifa's 24-member executive committee gathered in Berlin over the weekend to watch the World Cup final and, according to the agency, delegates meeting in the luxurious Hotel Adlon just opposite the Brandenburg Gate spent much of the weekend deep in conversation over what to do if South Africa fell further behind with its World Cup preparations. There are long-standing doubts about whether stadiums can be built and modernised in time but there are even more serious concerns about South Africa's transport infrastructure and whether it will be able to cope with the tens of thousands of fans travelling between venues.
Yesterday Fifa insisted that the tournament would go ahead in South Africa as planned. "The World Cup in Germany was wonderful. But the next one will take place in South Africa," its spokesman Markus Siegler insisted.
Fifa officials have indicated that no final decision is likely to be taken until after the president Sepp Blatter stands for re-election next May. Blatter, a big supporter of South Africa's ultimately successful bid, needs the votes from African delegates to ensure his re-election in the ballot next year in Zurich.