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South Africa Praised for Confederations Cup

Organizers of the recently concluded Confederations Cup have expressed satisfaction over host South Africa's preparations for the football tournament. But they say the country still faces challenges as it prepares for next year's World Cup. The assessment came one day after the end of the competition.

The head of the football world's governing body, Sepp Blatter of FIFA, Monday gave the South African Organizing Committee a score of 7.5 out of 10 for its work on the just concluded Confederations Cup.

"The Organizing Committee with Danny Jordaan as the Chief Executive have done a very good job," Blatter said. "The hospitality, the reception by the population of all the delegates coming from around [the world] has been really remarkable."

He said he expects the score to rise by December when the draw for next year's World Cup is held.

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said the Confederations Cup, which ended Sunday with Brazil's victory over the United States, showed that certain areas needed attention. But he added that FIFA felt these problems could be addressed by next June when the World Cup kicks off.

"Yes, the park and ride has not worked. Yes, the media shuttle system has not worked. Yes, the signage has not worked. Yes, it was difficult to come in and out of the stadiums," said Valcke. "And we have to take into consideration that hundreds of thousands of people will come to South Africa for the World Cup. But there is not a single issue where we have the feeling that 11 months will not be enough to solve [the problems]," he continued.

Some fans waited for hours for public transportation to their cars after some of the earlier matches. And FIFA's hospitality partner says it still lacks 15,000 of the 55,000 rooms it needs for next year's World Cup.

Nevertheless, organizers note that the 10 stadiums being built or refurbished for the World Cup are on schedule and the much discussed issue of security had been laid to rest.

Except for two burglaries at team hotels during their matches, no security incidents were reported related to the Cup. Fans and players praised South Africans for their hospitality and enthusiastic support for the games.

About 550,000 people attended the 12 matches of the tournament which is seen as a trial run for the much larger World Cup.

The head of the local organizing committee, Danny Jordaan, said the Confederations Cup had also made strides toward ending one of the legacies of apartheid when sports were separated along racial lines.

"This event has...introduced the most mixed, most diverse spectators or audience of any sporting event in this country. And that is a huge contribution that this Confederations Cup has made," Jordaan said.

The World Cup has also provided an impetus for the South African government to upgrade football facilities and community sports which were also neglected under apartheid.

FIFA expects the World Cup to contribute $7 billion to the South African economy and create more than 400,000 jobs.