It has come to light that South Africa is not ready to host the 2010 World Cup just over three months before the tournament kicks off according to FIFA, football’s world governing body. FIFA’s secretary general, Jerome Valke, told a news conference on Tuesday that the main venue in Johannesburg, Soccer City, was yet to be completed, and that 700,000 tickets were still unsold. “If the question is: ‘Could we host the World Cup tomorrow morning?’ the answer is no,” Mr Valke said. “I can make a list of things that aren’t ready for the World Cup.” This is the first time that an official of FIFA official admitted that everything is not going as planned for South Africa.
The country is the first ever host of the tournament on the African continent. Just last week FIFA had slashed the prices of some unsold VIP tickets in the hope of selling them to South Africans rather than overseas fans. “This was a promise that Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, made to the South African government,” Valcke said. The specially-priced tickets for South African residents, called Category-four seats, are being sold at 140 rand ($18.21). Valcke also said that 11 per cent of stadium capacity was currently made up of category-four tickets and Fifa hoped to increase this to 20 per cent for most games at the June 11-July 11 finals. “We will do our best to get up to 20 per cent for most of the matches but we will not discount any ticket prices and we’ll not give any tickets away. There will never be a free ticket for the World Cup.” He said he expected ticket sales to cover the $423m budget for organising the World Cup in South Africa. “We are trying at a difficult time for the world,” he went on to say.
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