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FIFA Head Visits South Africa


The head of football's world governing body, FIFA, has visited Cape Town as part of a inspection trip to South Africa. The trip comes less than two years before South Africa is to host the 2010 soccer World Cup. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.

FIFA head Sepp Blatter Monday visited the new soccer stadium currently under construction in Cape Town as part of his four-day visit to South Africa.

He met Sunday night after his arrival with South African President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria and told him that he had no doubt that South Africa would host the next World Cup.

Mr. Mbeki is due to step down as president next year and his ANC party is embroiled in a bitter succession battle. But the South African leader said the political transition would not affect football's biggest tournament.

"It doesn't matter what happens here with regard to whatever might be the political challenges. This country will meet its commitments to FIFA and ourselves and the [African] continent to ensure that we have a very successful 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup," he said.

Blatter and other FIFA officials have repeatedly been obliged to address concerns over whether South Africa will be prepared to host the 32 teams and estimated 400,000 football fans who are expected to visit during the three-week-long event.

Despite some earlier delays, construction or refurbishment of the 10 stadiums to be used for World Cup matches is now on schedule and four times the needed number of volunteers offered to help.

Nevertheless, concerns over security, transportation and accommodations linger despite a multi-billion dollar program by the government to strengthen infrastructure and security services.

Blatter said nevertheless he is 110 percent certain that the World Cup will take place as planned. "What we need a little bit more here is also that the whole country now is saying, yes, let's go, let's do it, the determination and to go forward whatever happens in this country," he said.

Blatter is due to inspect several major stadiums under construction. He is also to visit former South African president Nelson Mandela and meet ANC President Jacob Zuma who is considered the frontrunner to be the country's next president.

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