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.



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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs