Approximately 20 international journalists gathered at the Home of FIFA in Zurich for a roundtable meeting with FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke to discuss various topics concerning world football and the FIFA World Cup™. The group was warmly welcomed by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, who stressed to the assembled party that: "Our focus and concentration for the upcoming months is solely the successful organisation of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa."
After the President’s opening words, Valcke answered the journalists’ questions.
On the FIFA World Cup in South Africa
We are on track. FIFA has still not yet received Soccer City in Johannesburg yet, but the deadline for the handover is on 15 March. On the other hand, we’re very impressed by Durban. It’s one of the most beautiful stadiums ever used at a FIFA World Cup.
On the number of expected visitors
There will be fewer people visiting South Africa than previously estimated by the LOC, which was 450,000. I think that figure may be lower, but I have no idea by how much.
Nothing will change at the World Cup. We cannot use the World Cup to test things. It’s too late now to change the system. We have been working with these referees for more than two years now and they are the best trios. Plus, there is no proposal in place at the moment which completely guarantees that a switch to another system would be without problems. On 6 March the IFAB [International Football Association Board] will meet in Zurich and, amongst other things, goal-line technology will be discussed when two systems (Adidas-Cairos and Hawkeye) will be presented. But we also need to wait for the results of the experiment currently in place at the UEFA Europa League. So, we can only discuss this at next year’s IFAB in March 2011. Let’s make sure, that when a decision is made, it’s a good one.
We have increased the ticket allocations for South Africans. We need to make sure that we give fans access to the stadiums. We need to offer what fans are expecting, not just hospitality packages. We have moved some Category 2 and 3 tickets into category 4 to reach a level of 20 per cent exclusively for the South African Market. I don’t want to see an empty seat at the World Cup - and we will never give away tickets for free. We have got all unused tickets back from our partners, so we can bring them in the markets. We also work closely with our partners to make sure that all tickets will be going to the fans. So far, we have sold 2.1 out of 2.9 million tickets.
On travel and transportation
We are in contact with our partner Emirates and also with South African Airways. Emirates, for example, have decreased the prices for a flight from New York to Johannesburg by 30 per cent and implemented new connections from Amsterdam. Domestically, we have arranged extra flights, so that we can move people whenever we want, day and night.
We have invited the respective Chiefs of Police from the 32 participating member associations and all the team security officers for a high level security workshop here in Zurich on 4 and 5 March. It’s the first time ever that a sporting organisation has organised such a meeting before an event. What we are facing in South Africa is a low level crime system, not organised crime. The event itself will be safe, but we cannot secure all of South Africa. We need to make sure that no-one is in danger when we moving from city to city or from the stadium to the hotel. We hope that the country will be a different one after the World Cup in terms of security.
On Brazil 2014
We will have learned some good lessons from the organisation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 2014 will be a similar event in terms of the number of teams coming from European countries. So, for the next World Cup, we might even open ticketing centres around the world.
On the possibility of having a European-only bid for 2018
We will not ask the FIFA Executive Committee to make a decision on having only European countries bidding for 2018. That is up to the associations who are bidding for the World Cup. They need to make up their mind in terms of what they are bidding for. If, in the end, only European associations bid for 2018, then that’s their decision.