/ 22 November 2007

Fifa ‘concerned’ over stadium preparations

World soccer governing body Fifa was concerned about 2010 stadium preparations, its general secretary, Jerome Valcke, said on Thursday at a media briefing in Durban.

Stadium workers in Nelspruit, Durban and Cape Town recently staged strikes for better wages and this raised concerns that South Africa would not be ready to host the World Cup — or the 2009 Confederations Cup.

”We are looking at what’s happening and we are concerned, but we do trust that Danny [Jordaan] and the local organising committee [LOC] have solutions for these problems,” he said.

”We contact Danny if we see problems — and I think he is the person that can answer this better. However, I know we are on track despite what has happened and I believe that the stadiums will be ready for the Confederations Cup as well,” Valcke said.

Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 South African LOC, said that strikes were not unique to South Africa and that there was no crisis.

In Durban, the host city for the preliminary draw for the 2010 World Cup, construction workers downed tools for nearly two weeks before resuming work earlier this week.

”We will obviously lose a week or two due to the delays. The weather, too, can delay construction but these problems are not unique to South Africa,” Jordaan said.

”I believe that the stadium workers will put in the effort to see that these projects are done on time.

”If you go to the construction sites, even at night, you will see them busy there and I believe that the stadiums will be complete on time.”

Weekend draw

On Wednesday afternoon it was reported that members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who downed tools at a 2010 World Cup soccer stadium in Mpumalanga, were back at work.

”The Mbombela Stadium joint venture, stadium contractors and union representatives met on Wednesday and resolved the labour dispute that developed earlier this morning,” said Desmond Golding, provincial deputy director general of the World Cup 2010 project.

This came after construction workers at the Nelspruit 2010 Soccer World Cup stadium went on strike over wages and bonuses on Wednesday morning.

This latest strike came as thousands of delegates and journalists began arriving in South Africa ahead of this weekend’s draw in Durban for the qualifying rounds of the tournament.

A strike also halted construction at a stadium in Cape Town earlier this year but the organisers insist preparations are still on track for the tournament, which is being staged in Africa for the first time. — Sapa, AFP