News / Africa

Football Legend Maradona Praises S. Africa's World Cup Preparations

Maradona, who is considered one of the best football players in recent times, also dismissed security fears as he toured the Soccer City stadium near Soweto, outside Johannesburg.

Multimedia

Audio

With four months to go until the start of the football World Cup in South Africa, two new stadiums are hosting their first matches this weekend leaving only two arenas out of the total of ten yet to be ready. The head coach of the Argentine team, Diego Maradona, has praised the facilities at the end of a five-day inspection visit.

The head coach of Argentina's national football team, Diego Maradona, congratulated those who worked on South Africa's new football stadiums saying they have done a great job.

Maradona, who is considered one of the best football players in recent times, also dismissed security fears as he toured the Soccer City stadium near Soweto, outside Johannesburg.

He says things can happen in this world but he spent a week in South Africa and has seen that the people are good and very friendly.  He says he has no doubt that this will be a great World Cup and there will be no problem with security.

Fears over security were heightened after some news media reported that terrorist groups might target South African installations during the World Cup.

This followed an attack on Togo's national team two weeks ago as it traveled to its opening game in the African Cup of Nations in Angola. Two team members were killed and one seriously wounded.

Maradona, who also visited children's teams in poor neighborhoods in several cities, said he had seen with his own eyes that South Africa is a safe country. He hoped his team would eventually play in the Johannesburg stadium.

The 90,000 seat Soccer City is to host the opening and final matches of the month-long World Cup which kicks off on June 11.

South Africa has spent nearly $2 billion building five new stadiums and refurbishing five others for the tournament.

The new stadiums in Cape Town and the northeastern city of Polokwane are hosting their inaugural matches Saturday. Football arenas in six other cities, including Durban and Pretoria, have also been completed and have already hosted games.

Soccer City is also nearing completion with only minor fixtures and the parking lot pavement remaining to be completed. Contractors say they expect to finish in a few weeks.

The last stadium, in the eastern city of Nelspruit, is to be handed over as soon as a new pitch is finished.

South African officials take pride in having completed the stadiums on schedule. They have had to counter doubts over their ability to host the event since the announcement was made that South Africa had been selected to host the first ever football World Cup on African soil.

The government has also invested millions of dollars in upgrading transportation, accommodation and tourism facilities. The event is expected to draw more than 400,000 football fans from around the world.

Concerns over security have been especially hard to dispel due to the country's high crime rate. The government has hired thousands of police officers, created special courts and purchased millions of dollars worth of crowd control equipment for the event.

The World Cup is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs and inject billions of dollars into the economy.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs