Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"World Cup looks good for Africa, apart from on the pitch"

LONDON (Reuters) - Everything is on course for a wonderful first World Cup in Africa, apart from on the pitch where the continent's teams continue to struggle at the top level, the local head of the 2010 tournament said.

Danny Jordaan, chief of the South African event's organizing committee, said stadium development was on schedule, sponsorship and TV rights income was already guaranteed to surpass that of 2006 and tourism in the country continued to grow despite one of the world's highest crime rates.

"Yes we have crime, there are challenges, but our ability to safeguard all of our visitors coming to our major events has been tested over last 13 years and there has not been a single incident and tourist figures have grown every year." Jordaan said the 2010 tournament had already secured $3.2 million worth of sponsorship, compared to the $2.8 million for the 2006 event in Germany, while the TV rights had surpassed the $1 billion of last year's tournament.

South Africa, struggling internationally since their peak in the mid-1990s, have followed many of the continental partners by employing a foreign coach -- Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira -- but Jordaan said he felt that trend was one of the reasons for the teams' failures.

Quoting a "professor of football" he met in Cuba, Jordaan said:

"You cannot beat anyone who you admire, who you have as an idol. You have to find your own heroes. When a team stands there with hands on heart and sings the national anthem and the coach can't sing it, the players know."

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