2010 fans 'do not need stab vests'

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) has slammed a British company marketing stab-proof vest to football fans visiting South Africa for the World Cup as “scare tactics” to make money off crime fears.

“We think it’s abominable ... it’s not necessary. It’s a money-making exercise using scare tactics,” said Rich Mkhondo, spokesperson for the organising committee.

“Sport fans visiting South Africa have never needed stab vests. The marketing of such vests is a joke,” he said.

“They will not and will never need them during the World Cup.”

A British company, Protektorvest, earlier said it would provide stab-proof vests to tourists who feared being mugged or stabbed while visiting the country for the Soccer World Cup in June and July.

The vests cost R510 and could be delivered free of charge at any hotel in Johannesburg or Pretoria. The company said it could also customise the vests with team or national emblems.

Mkhondo said about 20 000 English cricket fans had just toured the country for longer than a month, attending the Test series between England and South Africa.

“At no time was their security or safety questioned. Similarly when the British and Irish Lion fans visited South Africa last year once again no-one expressed fear for their safety.”

Mkhondo said the LOC, the police and the military had put in place detailed security plans for the World Cup.

“We want to encourage fans travelling to South Africa to come here without any fear. They do not need any stab vests.”

South Africa’s chief World Cup organiser Danny Jordaan says the country is spending R1,3-billion to beef up security.

This included the deployment of 45 000 police officers for the event, and the use of new equipment including helicopters, water cannons, body armour and 100 patrol vehicles.

Equitable distribution of tickets
Meanwhile, Mkhondo also moved to reassure South African soccer fans that tickets for the event will be sold equitably.

“We hear the concerns of South Africans and we are looking at them,” Mkhondo said.

“We are going to employ the most equitable distribution of tickets.”

At the moment, tickets can be bought by filling in application forms at First National Bank branches, or fans can apply for tickets online.

Some soccer analysts have pointed out that not all South African soccer supporters would necessarily be familiar with the internet and other technology used to apply for the tickets.

Mkhondo said it had always been on the cards that in April ticketing centres would be set up countrywide—making over-the-counter sales possible. People who successfully applied for tickets could collect them at the centres.

Those who had not yet applied could also come to the centres and see if they could snap up any unsold seats.

Nevertheless, Mkhondo said the LOC and Fifa would also discuss further measures to simplify ticket sales at a meeting in Zurich next Tuesday.

“In Zurich they will look at more ticket centres and mobile ones for rural areas… and maybe they will look at other measures.”—Sapa, AFP

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