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Mbeki seeks to calm fears over 2010 World Cup

Written by: Staff

CAPE TOWN, Oct 24 (Reuters) President Thabo Mbeki said South Africa would stage an ''eminently successful'' soccer World Cup in 2010 which would defy scepticism about Africa's ability to host the globe's premier sporting event.

Mbeki acknowledged at a joint meeting of his government and world soccer governing body FIFA today that a lot of work remained before the continent stages its first World Cup.

But at a workshop for FIFA's commercial partners and officials from cities set to host big tournaments, Mbeki gave assurances of his country's ''passion and unequivocal commitment to make the 2010 World Cup an eminently successful tournament''.

''Today European football would not enjoy the prestige it does if it did not enjoy the outstanding services of African footballers,'' Mbeki told the two-day meeting.

''There is absolutely no reason why 2010 will not ... ensure that Africa bursts on our common globe, virtually like a bolt from the blue, surprising the sceptics, not only about the prowess of African footballers, but also of Africa's capacity to successfully provide an outstanding home for a global tournament of universal joy and celebration.'' Critics have questioned whether South Africa can provide stadiums and hotels for the nearly 500,000 foreigners and some 3 million locals expected at the event, and protect them from the country's high levels of violent crime.

Earlier FIFA executive board member Amos Adamu reaffirmed the world soccer body's support of the 2010 event in South Africa, following critical comments by some of the game's analysts and administrators.

''FIFA continues to have unflinching confidence in South Africa,'' Adamu said.

Reuters AY DB2113

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