Leave South Africa alone: Time for Blatter to step up

Sepp Blatter should step up and show his credentials as FIFA president. It is becoming increasingly distasteful to see countries circling around South Africa, like sharks having tasted blood. Australia is leading the way in trying to bite a huge chunk out of South Africa’s credibility in hosting the World Cup. This is becoming ugly real fast.
The premier of New South Wales, Morris Iemma, infuriated South African officials after stating that Australia has “the capacity to step into the breach at a moment’s notice.” He also quipped that he was “salivating at the prospect” of being an emergency host for the 2010 event. This follows the Daily Telegraph’s David Blair writing South Africa was in danger of hosting “the biggest cock-up in history”
Blatter should issue a statement immediately making clear that these statements are unwelcome and unwarranted. He should also make clear that he has full confidence in South Africa as a World Cup host.
The strong reaction of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to these baseless allegations underscores how important the unions are to the success of the World Cup. This seems to have escaped the Thabo Mbeki government whose policy so far seems to be to keep COSATU at arm’s length when it comes to planning for the World Cup. The government seems far more interested in prosecuting Jacob Zuma, the pro labour leader, and a potential successor to Mbeki. The recent charges against Zuma has led to a split between the COSATU and the pro-business faction of the ANC. The neo-liberal faction of the ANC fear that a Zuma presidency would be a death knell for the small group of favoured businessman who presently control SA’s economy. The World Cup should generate thousands of jobs for ordinary South Africans as long as transparency in the vending process is maintained. COSATU is concerned that this may not be the case and only the neo-liberal faction and its cronies will benefit.
A South Africa that believes the World Cup benefits each of its citizens will make it easier to disprove its detractors.

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