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An unnecessary Swiss trip
Africa’s remaining World Cup contenders have to travel north across the Mediterranean, over the Alps and on to Zurich next week to find out who they meet in the battle for places at the 2010 finals.
How ridiculous is it that the draw for the last phase of the African preliminaries will take place in the Swiss city ahead of a first-ever African World Cup and at a time when FIFA is trumpeting all sorts of African initiatives.
While the ceremony will take no longer than an hour, the symbolism of holding it in Zurich is sure to last longer.
One wonders what is wrong with the headquarters of African football, which are in Cairo, or in South Africa, where the next World Cup is being hosted.
The preliminary draw was a spectacular event in Durban last November and the Confederations Cup draw is scheduled for Johannesburg next month. But the draw for the business end of the African qualifiers is to be held in frosty Switzerland, stuck away in an obscure auditorium.
Holding the draw in Zurich actually makes it handy for some. African Confederation president Issa Hayatou has meetings in Zurich during the week and, as chairman of the 2010 World Cup Organising Committee, he will be a fairly important presence, one would think.
Mark Gleeson covers African football for Reuters