The world football governing body has come to the defence of the Republic of South Africa, the country that was accused by many British and German football fans of being the “unsafest place on Earth.”
British tabloids and newspapers have been succulently gnawing away at crime stories told by generally careless families who had been victims to crime during their lengthy visits to the ‘Rainbow Nation’, which is considered to have one of the world’s highest rates for fatalities related to AIDS/HIV and crime.
Jerome Valcke, Secretary General of FIFA, also wants British and German media to produce unbiased reports on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, to be hosted by South Africa this year.
He said FIFA wanted a more positive note from the press, accusing the Deutsche and British so-called ‘football families’ of undermining the 2010 World Cup effort by the first African nation to ever host such a prestigious event.
Valcke called the figures and reports against South Africa “unfair”, “bad” and “sad”, but did not deny the fact that the southern hemisphere nation was a crime infested hot spot where even some senior police officials have a blemished criminal record.
But even the secretary general can not undo the renewed fears overshadowing the murders suffered by the Togolese team before their planned matches at the Africa Cup of Nations (CAF) in neighboring Angola. The renewed security risk raised eyebrows among skeptics fearing the worst about the South African World Cup.
The terrorist attack against the Togolese team bus sparked British and German clubs and managers to chant that FIFA had realised it was ‘wrong to give the World Cup to South Africa’. European experts said that weak sales of tickets to the various matches was also partial proof of international uncertainty about safety and security in South Africa.
However South African organisers believe that the country, even with daily sporadic crime incidents, will attract almost half a million football fans.
They claim that all existing flights to South Africa for the World Cup season have been fully booked in advance and that FIFA is now compelled to arrange “extra fan flights” as according to FIFA about 2 million tickets (about 65% of total ticket sales) have been bought worldwide, with many purchases being acquired via the Internet.
The South African Government has launched its own domestic campaign to support the World Cup.
The South African Police Force (SAP) is increasing its staff numbers for the event. A special crime stop hot line (not toll-free as yet) has been set up for the general population to tip-off law enforcement agencies.
South African politicians, decision makers, businessmen and, television announcers have been requested to don the national team ‘Banfana Banfana’ official World Cup football vest during what has now been dubbed as “Football Friday” to spur 2010 FIFA World Cup interest and awareness among viewers.
The CAF matches are being broadcasted, live from Angola, by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which has recently reshuffled its BOD assemble.
Despite the strong anti-South African World Cup sentiment in the British media, all England matches in the group stages (against Algeria, Slovenia and USA) have already been oversubscribed, according to FIFA reports.