South Africa Police Beef Up Security Ahead of World Cup Draw
Police in South Africa have beefed up security in Cape Town in preparation for Friday's football, or soccer, World Cup draw. Two people were arrested hours before the event was to begin in separate bomb hoaxes.
A general view of the Cape Town International Convention Centre on December 01, 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa
Last updated on: December 04, 2009 10:38 AM
Police say they made one arrest after a man claiming to be a foreign journalist dropped a bag he said contained a bomb at the entrance to the Convention Center where the World Cup draw is to take place.
The second arrest was of an individual who allegedly telephoned a bomb threat to the international airport.
South Africa's Minister of Police, Nathi Mthetwa, assured reporters beforehand that his forces, numbering some 1,000 officers, were prepared for any threat.
"We are fully convinced that the security forces, supported by our intelligence communities and all other role players, are 100 percent prepared to efficiently secure these events and all parallel activities." said Nathi Mthetwa.
Sports stars, celebrities and politicians have gathered for the random draw that will determine which of the 32 qualifying teams play in what groups and where, when the World Cup kicks off in six months.
The head of the local organizing committee, Danny Jordaan, said the draw represented the kick-off of the 2010 World Cup.
"This is the world's gathering of football to indicate to all of us and people throughout the world that South Africa is ready. This is "game on" after today."
The name of each of the 32 teams has been placed into one of four pots. One team from each pot will be chosen at random to play in each of the eight groups.
South Africa, as host, has been seeded in the first pot with the world's seven top-seeded teams, as ranked by FIFA. These include Brazil, Spain, Italy, England, Germany, Netherlands and Argentina.
This means South Africa will not play any of these teams in the first round.
Mexico and the United States are considered strong teams in the second pot containing teams from Asia, Oceania and North and Central America.
Ivory Coast and Chile are highly regarded teams in the third pot containing teams from Africa and South America.
And France and Portugal are considered strongest in the fourth pot of unseeded teams from Europe.
Fans are anxiously hoping that their team does not draw into the so-called group of death containing one of the top-seeded teams from the first pot as well as strong teams from the other pots.
The world Cup is to be played for the first time in Africa and the automatic qualification of host South Africa means that for the first time six African teams will be competing.
The former team captain of Brazil, Cafu, told reporters that as a result he expects Africa to do well.
He says the African teams have an advantage because they are playing in Africa and have some strong teams. But when it comes to the World Cup everyone knows the favorite does not always win.
Thousands of spectators have gathered on Cape Town's streets and its fabled waterfront for the event. Millions more will watch it on television in 200 countries around the world.