FIFA happy with South Africa's 2010 World Cup progress
November 22, 2006 7:58pm CST
A delegation of FIFA officials have expressed satisfaction with South Africa's preparations for the 2010 World Cup, declaring they had made more rapid progress than their German predecessors. "FIFA is very happy and satisfied with the progress made," Horst Schmidt, who is to take up a new post as FIFA's coordinator in South Africa, said Wednesday. "Not only is the country on time, but a bit ahead of Germany at the same time. We are happy with preparations and now it's for the Local Organising Committee to maintain the momentum," added the German who was one of the driving forces behind this year's tournament in his homeland. Schmidt was part of a delegation, which also included FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi and marketing director Jerome Valcke, who have been briefed since the start of the week on preparations for the first ever World Cup in Africa. Schmidt told reporters that the main focus was on the progress being made on building and upgrading the 10 stadia which are to host the tournament. "After evaluating the plans for the construction of the stadiums, we were satisfied that there is enough time to construct, equip, and test the stadiums before the day of the kick-off. The task ahead becomes very clear," he said. The delegation's verdict after the visit serves as a significant boost to the local organisers after concerns expressed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter who said in September that he needed "to fire up the organising committee." Irvin Khoza, chairman of the local organising committee said he was happy with "FIFA's vote of confidence." "The schedule will be met as proposed and come the first quarter of next year, construction must start," he said at a press conference in Johannesburg. President Thabo Mbeki pledged last month that South Africa would confound international sceptics by meeting its deadlines and staging a well-oiled World Cup.