/ 2 December 2009

Welcome the world during 2010 Cup, Zuma tells SA

President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday urged South Africans to be nice to the fans who flock here next year for the World Cup, saying they should be handled with care.

About 450 000 supporters are expected to converge for the month-long football fiesta, with many not knowing what to expect from a country where crime is rampant.

In a videotaped message played to a press conference ahead of the World Cup draw, Zuma said he wanted them to go home without any complaints and told South Africans to welcome them with open arms.

”Welcome visitors who come to be with us, handle them with care,” he said.

”Show them the love, hospitality, be nice to them, they are our friends. Let us show them who we are, how proud we are as a nation, how caring we are.

”Let them feel at home, in every respect.

”We expect that everyone who comes here must go away without a single complaint,” he added.

Nine South African cities will host World Cup matches with fan parks, first introduced at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, set up in all of them.

A successful staging of the tournament is critical for South Africa, which has been entrusted with hosting the continent’s first World Cup.

It has not been an easy ride for organisers, with the country’s ability to deliver top-class tournament infrastructure heavily scrutinised.

While the five new and five renovated stadiums are now almost complete, concerns remain over transportation and accommodation shortfalls, as well as security in a nation where an average of 50 people are murdered every day. — AFP