South Africa: Durban Wins the Fight to Stage Draw

Johannesburg — DURBAN saw off stiff competition from Cape Town to be announced as the hosts of the 2010 Soccer World Cup preliminary draw yesterday.

Cape Town made a strong bid to host the first official event of the 2010 World Cup but the uncertainty caused by possible legal action by residents of Green Point -- the site of a new stadium for the showpiece -- who are opposed to the stadium, is believed to have tipped the scales in favour of Durban.

Danny Jordaan, CEO of the local organising committee, said more than 3500 visitors from 200 countries were expected at the six-day function to be held at Durban's International Convention Centre from November 23 next year.

"This is a major, major event and all the countries of the world will be present to see which qualifying groups they will be drawn into," Jordaan said yesterday.

"Durban knows that the bar has been set very high and they will have to raise it even higher.

"Present will be every single captain of his national team, every single Fifa executive committee member, media and even former players."

Jordaan said the first phase of the preparations was completed in July when SA unveiled the 2010 World Cup tournament logo in Germany.

"Durban will be the next phase, and 2007 will be a major year as we work together towards demonstrating that we will host a world-class event."

Fifa will assume ownership of the area and the football organisation will also host banquets, executive committee meetings, workshops and media briefings.

Jordaan and his chairman, Irvin Khoza, used the announcement of Durban's winning bid to dispel the perception that they cannot stand the sight of each other. The two reportedly disagreed over a World Cup travel contract that was eventually awarded to Connex Travel instead of to Fli-Africa, a company that according to reports is run by a close associate of Khoza.

However, Khoza said it was unfortunate that negative reports about his supposed strained relationship with Jordaan continued to give SA's preparations for the World Cup a bad image.

"If there is any tension between us, I am not aware of it," Khoza said yesterday.

"We have achieved too much to be embroiled in petty issues. We have worked too hard to throw it all away."

Khoza and Jordaan said that the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup would be played from June 14-27 and the 16 matches would be hosted by five cities.

Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg will have the privilege of giving the world a preview of what to expect the following year at the World Cup.

The Confederations Cup is usually hosted by the World Cup host nation in the preceding year and is used to test some of the stadiums that will be used in the global showpiece.

Each confederation sends its champions to the eight-team event, with the host nation and reigning World Cup champions completing the field.

Bafana Bafana have qualified as the host nation, while Italy are guaranteed participation as the holders of the World Cup trophy.

Jordaan said they had proposed to Fifa that the eight teams be divided into two groups of four nations each.

According to the organising committee's suggestions, Bafana would be in Group A with Oceania, Asia and the Euro champions. Group B would be headed by world champions Italy, who would compete with the African, Conmebol and the Concacaf champions.

Soccer City -- the centrepiece of the 2010 World Cup -- will not be used in the Confederations Cup as stadium renovations are not expected to be finished by the time the tournament starts.

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