FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he has no doubt that Cape Town will be ready to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and has fully endorsed the City's preparations to host the event. Blatter was visiting Cape Town and inspected the Green Point stadium construction site. He also met with President Thabo Mbeki at Tuynhuys, before meeting with Mayor Helen Zille and Premier Ebrahim Rasool. They hosted a joint press conference afterwards.
Blatter said he had received a comprehensive progress report from the mayor, and was certain that Green Point Stadium, with its nine scheduled matches, will be ready on time.
"I have no doubt, after listening to the report by the Local Organising Committee, looking at the report presented today, and seeing the interest shown, that Cape Town will play a very important part in the 2010 World Cup."
Blatter joked about his "ambitious" previous statement that "only God can stop South Africa from hosting the World Cup", but said he stood by that sentiment.
"I can say South Africa will be ready hosts for an exceptional World Cup, the first time on African soil, and in a multi-cultural country - how better to identify football than by bringing together all the different cultures."
Blatter admitted there were challenges ahead, but said if there were no challenges, there would be no need for discussion and no build-up to the event. Apart from stadium construction, he highlighted transport and getting the tourism infrastructure into place ahead of 2010 in order to cope with the extra visitors.
He also brought up crime, saying that while he doesn't like to talk about it, "we have to face realities". He said there were many "rubbish reports" about the crime situation and that people are finding problems and being negative about South Africa hosting the event. Blatter pointed out that the same problems exist in any big city in the world, and that violence has been around since biblical times. He said he trusted the organisers are dealing with this, and praised the "total involvement of government" as "tremendous".
He added that the World Cup is more than just about football - it's about social responsibility and "getting people closer together". This will be the enduring legacy for the future, Blatter said.
Blatter said he felt the "trust and enthusiasm" and was glad to have met the president, premier and mayor. He told Zille that "FIFA trusts you, and is in full confidence that Cape Town will be a wonderful organiser of nine matches including a semi-final".
Blatter praised Zille's "energy, will, determination and tenacity" in overcoming many obstacles to finally get construction of the stadium underway.
Zille said that she was delighted to report that the City is on schedule, "despite somewhat of a slow start".
She said she hoped Blatter and his team will recognise that the "dedication and effort are proof of the City's commitment to make a success of 2010, despite complex legal, political, geological and financial obstacles".
Zille added that many ratepayers are convinced that the rates increases are to pay for the stadium, which is "absolutely not the case".
"We share a goal with FIFA to make 2010 a success, because it's about so much more than football," she said, mentioning building national self-confidence that will show the rest of the world that Africa will succeed.
She also cited the airport, N2, public transport and other infrastructure upgrades and investment that will "continue to put Cape Town in the league of the world's great cities".
Premier Ebrahim Rasool thanked Blatter for "the trust and the confidence in our ability to deliver Cape Town for 2010". He reiterated that Cape Town "will be ready with the stadium for the World Cup" and highlighted other investment such as new hotels at the Waterfront.
He also said that despite differences, the City and province were "co-operating on things that matter - delivering a world-class 2010 and a legacy for the people of Cape Town".
Inserted on 20 June 2007