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FIFA Chief Underscores World Cup Will Be Held in South Africa


The head of the world soccer federation, FIFA, has arrived in South Africa to inspect work on 10 stadiums being built or refurbished for the 2010 soccer World Cup. Sepp Blatter immediately sought to dispel persistent reports that alternate countries are being considered. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.

The head of soccer's world governing body, Sepp Blatter, Monday inspected construction on Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium and said in general construction is on track.

"You may be assured that nothing, nothing can now be against [holding] this World Cup here in South Africa, nothing but God," he said.

South African officials are keen to quash once and for all reports that an alternate country is being considered because of crime and a lack of hotels and transportation in South Africa.

Johannesburg's largest stadium is being gutted and refurbished to meet FIFA standards.

Blatter is to fly to Cape Town Tuesday to inspect progress on a new stadium there. He is also to meet with South African President Thabo Mbeki and local officials.

The South African government has earmarked more than $1 billion for improvements in sports stadiums, airports and transportation networks.

The projects have been criticized for taking funds away from more durable projects. But officials like Johannesburg's Mayor Amos Masondo say the investment will benefit South Africans long after the World Cup is over.

"We want to use the 2010 FIFA World Cup pressure to deepen our own programs in the city and indeed to ensure that when the 2010 soccer World Cup has come and gone there are meaningful legacy projects," he said.

An estimated 400,000 foreign fans will come to watch World Cup matches. Officials say the World Cup will generate some two billion dollars in additional revenues and generate 100,000 new jobs.

Blatter sought to dispel fears that the price of tickets to World Cup games, reported to start at $50 (US), will be too high for the average South African to afford.

"You may be assured that we will make ticket prices also available directly or indirectly to the population here in all the country of South Africa," he said.

He added that World Cup viewing sites equipped with giant television screens would be built in cities around the country.

The FIFA chief also announced that his organization would provide free broadcasting rights to the Africa Union of Broadcasting and its audiences in sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa Broadcasting officials, meeting in Johannesburg last week, said a change was needed in the traditional practice of selling the rights to a single multinational broadcasting company which then redistributed them.

They said efforts must be made to broadcast World Cup events from an African perspective.

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