There have been a lot of reports in the international media questioning South Africa’s readiness to host the world soccer tournament.
Many influential ones went on record to say South Africa is not ready to host the prestigious World Cup. Things that were cited to be further jeorpadising South Africa’s chances were mainly the recent spate of attacks on foreigners, frequent electricity cuts and, top on the list, being the behind-schedule stadiums that are going to host the matches.
The stadiums issue even intensified when it was announced that one of the stadiums, Nelson Mandela Multipurpose Stadium in Port-Elizabeth, would not even be able to host next year’s FIFA Confederation Cup, which actually curtain raises for the World Cup.
A recent visit to the country’s four host cities saw a totally different picture.
The stadium officials were even more than shocked to hear that there were reports saying the stadium was behind schedule. What they actually told Sunday Standard is that no one made proper enquiries from them as to the stage the stadium had reached and they were only hearing it through the media.
FIFA announced that the stadium would only be ready by next year, while the coordinator of the stadium said by December this year everything would be in place. He, however, said they had since written to FIFA seeking more clarifications on the issue.
Some locals are even accusing several western countries of deliberately spreading malicious reports to distabilise the work with the hope of the tournament being handed over to them.
One country that South Africa mainly complained about was Australia, which was seen as being involved in unscrupulous tactics. Even a visit around other stadiums like Green Point (Cape Town), Moses Mabhita (Durban) and Soccer City in Johannesburg proved that South Africa is well ahead of schedule.
FIFA wants the stadiums to be completed mid next year, but it looks as if by December all the work will have been done.
Even despite the recent strikes at some of the stadiums, one can see that the building is ahead of schedule.
Most of the workers at the stadiums were even enthusiastic with others going to the extent of working after hours.
Another bulk of the construction work is also being carried out in the city centers, where new buildings are being erected. Previously, City centers were seen as eye-sores.
More five-star hotels are being erected and the airports are being given face lifts to impress visitors.
However, South Africa had better sports infrastructure even before most of the current spate of construction work started and its infrastructure even rivaled those of several European countries that are always critical of South Africa.
It looks like there is no success story about the country and the international media blows the trumpet in exaggerating small negatives that may have cropped up.
Already the international media reports that there are three countries that are on standby because South Africa is going to fail.
FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, has however persistently stated that only civil war and natural disasters would take away the World Cup from South Africa.
On the other hand, Manchester United Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was impressed with what he saw and said South Africa is prepared to show the world that they are ready.
Ferguson said the challenges that South Africa is facing are always the same as those faced by all the hosts.
During the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece, little was reported about Greece’s behind-schedule stadiums. The country only managed to finish work in the last few weeks before the tournament.