South Africa: Cape Town Warned of Losing Out On 2010

Johannesburg — CAPE Town has been warned it could lose the rights to host a 2010 Soccer World Cup semifinal and other matches if residents of Green Point -- site of a new stadium for the global showpiece -- take their opposition to the construction of the venue to court.

Visibly exasperated 2010 World Cup local organising committee chairman Irvin Khoza said yesterday the committee would decide at a board meeting in February whether to look for an alternative to Cape Town.

"I am told there are objections from residents of Green Point, and that is their democratic right. But if they take this issue to court, they can kiss the World Cup goodbye," Khoza said.

The Green Point Common Association indicated at the beginning of the month that it would press ahead with legal action to oppose the construction of the proposed 68000-seat stadium.

However, Khoza said that the organising committee would not allow itself to be inconvenienced by a legal wrangle, as football governing body Fifa expected the construction of all World Cup stadiums to begin by early next year.

"This is serious. Nobody can afford delays because we are on strict timelines from Fifa. All stadiums have to begin construction by March in the first quarter of next year. And because of (Green Point's) unique status as a semifinal venue, we do not have time to be involved in litigation."

Organising committee CEO Danny Jordaan said the squabbles and threat of legal action were a pity, as the city was ahead of schedule and had met all requirements up to this stage.

"It is only when that group (the Green Point Common Association) becomes determined to stop construction that we will have a problem," he said.

Jordaan said he could not understand the furore, as there was already the Green Point stadium on the site of the proposed new stadium.

"We will have to monitor them very carefully, because we have to be vigilant about this.

"If we lose time, we will be in trouble."

Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile said that according to the latest report he had received from Cape Town mayor Helen Zille and the engineers on site, work was continuing, despite the reported opposition to the stadium.

"When work stops, only then will we be able to say that we are taking the World Cup somewhere else. So, unless people stand in front of the construction vehicles, Green Point is still one of the host venues of the 2010 World Cup."

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