- In an unusual move, FIFA has published an internal inspection report of the candidates for the 2010 World Cup, assessing the five African nations applying to become hosts of the event. South Africa definitively topped the FIFA rating, and was succeeded by Egypt, Morocco and the co-hosts Tunisia and Libya in that order.
The South African ambitions to become the first-ever African hosts of the world's most important soccer event have been given a genuinely good feedback by the FIFA inspectors. FIFA's executive committee is to make a final decision on the 2010 World Cup in Zurich on 15 May.
The FIFA inspectors generally conclude that Africa is indeed "prepared to host" the 2010 World Cup. There was therefore no need to break FIFA regulations concerning co-hosting or multi-co-hosting for the tournament "as there are enough countries in Africa prepared to organise it very well."
South Africa was found to be able to arrange an excellent World Cup. The inspectors concluded that the South African government was "totally committed" to the World Cup bid and that there was a "huge enthusiasm" among the public. South Africa was found to have an "excellent" hotel infrastructure, telecommunications facilities, training facilities and medical facilities.
While security was mentioned as a problem, South African authorities were said to "have the know-how and resources to manage this aspect" during the World Cup. Also the event's budget and ticketing needed to be revised, the inspectors concluded.
- If the World Cup is granted to South Africa, it will generate significant unity among the different ethnic groups that were separated socially, culturally and in sport for years, the report noted. "In addition, South Africa has a number of world class cultural and tourist attractions."
Also Egypt had presented a strong bid, the inspectors found. "The general public in Egypt is very passionate about football and spontaneously show their joy at the prospect of hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup," the report says. "It is largely for this reason – added to the wealth of history, culture and tourism in the country and the strong backing given by the government to the bid – that the inspection group believes there is potential for an excellent World Cup to be staged in Egypt."
Egypt however scored somewhat lower than South Africa on transportation, training facilities, telecommunications and medical facilities. Also the budget required a "complete revision," FIFA noted. Egypt was nevertheless found to have an "excellent hotel infrastructure," which already provided "more than enough rooms for all participants in hotels."
Morocco was third in the rating. The North African nation has connected its World Cup bid to its new national development strategy, called Vision 2010, and the Moroccan government was "completely dedicated to this plan." Morocco however had a "lack of football infrastructure," but was nevertheless found to have the "potential to organise a very good World Cup," the FIFA inspectors said.
Tunisia, on the other hand, seemed to be ruining its otherwise good possibilities of hosting the event by suddenly urging FIFA to be let co-hosting the World Cup with neighbouring Libya, something which is against FIFA regulations. Otherwise, Tunisia's football and infrastructure levels were excellent. "If they change their opinion about co-hosting, and they follow their bidding book they have the potential to organise a good World Cup," the FIFA report said.
Libya was not left very much hope to succeed in its World Cup bid. The country totally lacked hotels and other important infrastructure. Although Libya may have the wealth to construct the lacking facilities, the FIFA inspectors doubted the country's capability of doing so. An "excellent internal security system" and the possibility of opening the country "up to the world" were however mentioned as positive aspects.
The FIFA executive committee is to decide on who is to host the 2010 World Cup in only ten days. Besides the report from the inspecting team, the lobbying among the FIFA members, representing different countries, will be most decisive. European and Middle East FIFA members may still opt for a North African country as this is closer for their national audiences.
After the FIFA executive committee in March 2001 decided that forthcoming World Cup's were to be organised on a rotation basis between the continents and that the rotation was to begin in Africa, six countries declared their interest. After Nigeria fell from the bidders' list, South Africa remained the only sub-Saharan country competing with four North African countries.
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