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World Cup Bonus for Workers


SOCCER-WORLD/STADIUMSSoccer City in Johannesburg will be home to the opening and the final of the FIFA World Cup this year. On Monday, the men and women who helped build the stadium were given letters that assured them of two free tickets to the opening match.

120 000 tickets will be distributed to construction, community workers and children as part of a FIFA initiative to make sure that regular South Africans, who would normally not have the opportunity to go watch a World Cup match, can see their soccer heroes in the flesh.

Father of three, Zola Mdinmgi, said he will be taking his wife to the opening game on the 11th of June. “She knows too much about soccer. I’m too excited. It will be a big event for South Africa. It will also be nice to be here with my partner,” he said.

Thoziswa Maliwa shared the same sentiment and said she will be taking her boyfriend to the opening.” I’m so happy. Welcome to Soccer City.”

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

FIFA made fundamental errors on World Cup tickets


FIFA is guaranteed massive revenue from the World Cup, primarily through billions of dollars in commercial and television rights, that will fill its coffers for the next four years. But that doesn't hide the fact that soccer's governing body has made basic errors in the ticketing structure for the first African edition of the world's most watched sporting event.

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has steadfastly supported holding the soccer spectacle in Africa despite a flood of negative reporting from Europe that said the tournament would be a disaster and that nothing would be ready in time. Those naysayers have so far been proved very wrong--the 10 stadiums, half of them stunning new venues--are ready way ahead of kickoff on June 11.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Back on Robben Island — the men who changed the game

The year 1964 was a highly significant one in the fight against Apartheid: Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island and FIFA suspended South Africa from football because of the legalised racist policies of its Government.

If anyone had suggested then that one day FIFA's Executive Committee would meet on the outcrop off the coast of Cape Town on the eve of the draw for South Africa's World Cup, they would have been derided as a fantasist.

Flashlights or a blackout-free soccer bonanza?


South Africa’s power utility Eskom has assured the world it will keep the lights on during the FIFA World Cup next year.

But many wonder if they can trust the assurances after the country’s national grid came to a near standstill last year, forcing mines and smelters to shut and costing the biggest economy in Africa billions of dollars.

Money will talk louder than any vuvuzela


The debate around the vuvuzela was always going to generate big noise but for some South African commentators it has become almost a neo-colonial conflict.

The noisy trumpet, which dominates the sound waves around the stadiums during the Confederations Cup, has got a lot of people covering their ears.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Confederations Cup shapes up well…except for the weather

For all their scepticism about South Africa’s potential to host the World Cup, the build-up to the test event, the Confederations Cup, has so far gone without any major hitches.

It is a dream scenario for the home nation and FIFA, still trying to temper the doubters and persuade the world all will be ready by 2010, has added to the chorus of congratulations.

Africans wary of World Cup ticket prices


The first phase of ticket sales for the 2010 World Cup closed on Tuesday night with 1.6 million applications received.

This is more than two applications per available ticket although there is likely to be much more demand for the matches during the exciting knockout phase of the tournament than for the opening two weeks of group play.

The dream just got harder


Two new proposed sets of new footballing legislation would make it even more difficult for Africa’s top soccer talent to achieve their dream of playing in Europe.

The proposed 6+5 regulation that FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been vigorously touting will mean less chance for African players to find lucrative employment with clubs in Europe, where the vastly better pay makes it a destination of choice for so many footballers from this continent.
Blatter wants to ensure more local players feature in domestic football, which over the years in Europe has become blurred by liberal EU labour laws and the mass migration of footballing talent in all directions.
It is 10 years ago, for example, since a club in the English Premier League last fielded an all-English side and, although as a product the premier league has become a world brand because of its world starts, there is a move now to restrict the number of foreigners playing in England and elsewhere.

Can Bafana live up to World Cup host team billing?


blatter_khoza.jpgThere were the predictable platitudes from Sepp Blatter in South Africa this week, expressing satisfaction with the pace of construction of the country’s top stadia ahead of its hosting if the 2010 World Cup finals.

But there was little Swiss diplomacy on display from the FIFA president when dealing with the issue of the country’s national team, Bafana Bafana, whose rapid decline over the last years is now a major source of concern.