The FIFA Confederations Cup which kicks off this weekend in South Africa is crucial to next year’s World Cup tournament, said FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely time to kick off now, not only in terms of the organisation in South Africa, but in terms of making sure they can deliver and will deliver,” said Blatter, a year ahead of the first African World Cup.
“That’s why this Confederations Cup, one year before the big event, is crucial. It’s very important for FIFA but also for the participating teams. I’m sure it will be a great competition.”
South Africa is ready and committed for 2010, he said in a statement marking the 12 month countdown to the World Cup.
Speaking in Johannesburg, FIFA competition director Jim Brown said the Confed Cup was a 2010 dry run but that teams were also in South Africa to win.
“We always keep in the back of our mind is that this is a test. Every day we approach issues knowing that we can face the same question in a year,” he said.
“But I think our focus is to make that this event as good as it can be. What’s going on in the field is real and they want to win, and I think that will trickle through the whole organisation.”
Brown said he expected ticket sales – at more than 70 percent on Wednesday – to increase and hoped all 16 games will be full.
“The greatest marketing tool for this event will be be the opening game as it was in 2005 (in Germany), when that event trickled to the starting line and then really gathered momentum,” he said.
Brown said FIFA had no specific security concerns to date, despite South Africa’s reputation as one of the world’s most crime-ridden societies.
“We’ve always been impressed with the South African police and their ability to deal with these big events and that continues,” he said.
The South African government said on Wednesday that 8,000 police officers will be deployed for the Confederations Cup which takes place in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Rustenurg.
The first match is on Sunday where hosts South Africa take on Asian champs Iraq.
European champions Spain, World Cup holders Italy and Confed Cup titleholders Brazil are favourites to win the two-week tournament with New Zealand, Egypt and the United States completing the line-up.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!