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Concerns Mount Over South Africa in '10

The omens for South Africa 2010 were never good, writes Mark Ziegler of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Two nights before the World Cup final in Germany, a massive rainstorm wiped out what was supposed to be the official baton-passing party. It was supposed to be "the biggest single football party ever" with 500,000 fans, musical acts from around the globe, and the usual trappings like lights, expensive sound and camera equipment, etc. for a spectacle of its magnitude. But alas, the wind and rain were so strong, FIFA decided to cancel the whole thing about an hour before it was supposed to start. Three months later, the doubts over South Africa's readiness to host the world's most important sporting event are rising. Construction costs have escalated substantially, as have tensions between its lead organizers. "My worry is that they will not be finished with the job," Pele said recently. During the World Cup, media reports suggested that a contingency plan was being prepared just in case, but FIFA President Sepp Blatter quickly moved to dismiss that notion, calling the claims "groundless." Three months later, Blatter has altered his tone somewhat, says Ziegler. "For the moment, they have plans, money and decisions," Blatter told reporters, "but I have yet to see the pickaxes and spades needed to do the work." Even South Africa, it seems is starting to express self-doubt: "The impression that South Africa can't handle the demands of the 2010 World Cup is rapidly gaining ground," came an editorial in South Africa's Sunday Times. What if they fail? Who will be sitting on the sidelines waiting to bail FIFA out? Why the United States, of course, says Ziegler, which should be the top emergency candidate with its plethora of empty stadiums in the summer time and its big corporate sponsors. The U.S. bailed FIFA out before, hosting the 2003 Women's World Cup when China had been ruled out due to the outbreak of SARS. Ziegler says other possible candidates include Australia, Mexico and Germany.

Read the whole story at San Diego Union-Tribune »

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