English papers out to sabotage South Africa — Jordaan

WORLD football’s governing body Fifa went on the offensive yesterday in a growing row with English tabloid newspapers over the readiness of England’s base camp for the World Cup finals.

A visibly irritated general secretary Jerome Valcke and his South African local organising committee counterpart, Danny Jordaan, used a news conference to refute allegations that the hotel where the squad are likely to stay during the tournament was only half completed.

Jordaan has accused English newspapers of trying to sabotage SA ’s image in the wake of reports that the Royal Bafokeng hotel near Rustenburg, where England play their opening match against the US in the local stadium on June 12, was still a building site and that training pitches were not up to standard.

On Monday, Valcke and Jordaan visited the hotel complex, which has been described by British newspaper The Sun as a “dump”.

“What I saw is definitely a place where you can stay,” said Valcke. “It has all the facilities of a modern hotel. What else do you need?” Jordaan showed glossy pictures of the hotel and said 68 rooms were completed and the hotel was already in use by guests.

But both men, when questioned by reporters, admitted a second part of the hotel complex was still being constructed and a planned medical centre was not finished.

Valcke also said two pitches where England were likely to train for the June 11-July 11 finals were being reseeded.

Meanwhile, SA’s showpiece venue for the World Cup would be ready for its first test events in April or May, but the pitch at another of the new stadiums was being relaid again, local organisers said.

The 95000-capacity Soccer City near Soweto, where both the opening match and the final of the World Cup would be played, would host one or two events before the tournament starts on June 11, Jordaan told a news conference.

“They are busy now with the outside of the stadium and a beautification programme around the perimeter,” he said.

However, the pitch at Nelspruit’s new Mbombela Stadium is being lifted for a second time after being judged unsuitable by a Fifa inspection team last week.

Source: www.businessday.co.za, 20100224

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