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World Cup Organizers Inspect South African Stadiums

  • Scott Bobb

World Cup organizers are visiting the 10 South African stadiums that are to host matches later this year. Tuesday marks the 100-day countdown to kick-off for football's biggest event.

Local organizers of the 2010 World Cup say eight of the 10 South African stadiums are finished and have already hosted local matches.

They said Johannesburg's 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium, which is to host the opening and final matches, is nearing completion and is to be handed over to organizers by the end of this month.

They told reporters the only stadium behind schedule is in Nelspruit, 300 kilometers east of Johannesburg.

South African Organizing Committee head Danny Jordaan said construction is finished, but the pitch (field) needed re-planting because of drainage problems.

He noted that football's world governing body, FIFA, had brought in experts to assist and predicted that it would be ready in seven weeks.

"There is a period of total uninterrupted work with no possibility of matches," said Danny Jordaan. "And therefore a new stadium gives that flexibility and that possibility."

He made the remarks as he led FIFA officials and the news media on an inspection tour of the arenas.

The group has visited the stadiums in Johannesburg, Rustenberg, Polokwane, Nelspruit and Bloemfontein, in the central part of South Africa. It is also traveling to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the southern coast.

The group goes to the southeastern port of Durban to participate Tuesday in ceremonies marking the 100-day countdown to the World Cup kick-off on June 11.

Jordaan underscored that South Africa would be ready.

"As we sit here, 100 days to go, and look back at the road we traveled, certainly it is with great sense of achievement that all of us celebrate the reality that for the first time after 103 years of international football, Africa will have its first chance to host this event," he said.

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valke says the organization is moving thousands of middle-priced tickets into the lowest-price category. This category, where tickets to preliminary games sell for less than $20, is limited to South African residents only.

FIFA said it wanted more South Africans to be able to participate in the event. It says more than two-thirds of the three million tickets have been sold and all but a dozen of the 64 matches are sold out.