Seeing impressive plans on paper is one thing, but seeing those plans vividly being brought to life first-hand is another matter.

That's the opportunity that was provided this week to a FIFA inspection tour delegation, which visited four of the nine 2010 host cities and saw stadiums rapidly taking shape in preparation for Africa's first World Cup™.

The inspection tour members visited the construction sites of the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town, the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and finally Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium on their three-day tour which ended today (October 10).

The delegation was composed of experts in competitions, marketing, information technology, media, accommodation, security, stadium construction and transportation from FIFA and the 2010 Organising Committee, who were able to interact with host cities and engage with them on the event requirements during the stadium construction phase.

In addition to the site visits, the delegation also received progress reports in many areas of host city activities, ranging from venue construction to accommodation, finance, transport and the environment during the three-day tour.

The visit allowed the South African host cities to showcase the progress they are making and also to highlight their commitment to leaving a lasting legacy in their cities beyond 2010.

"We were able to see signs of huge transformation in the host cities. The task ahead is a big one and we admire the ambition and efforts in the host cities to make 2010 a successful event", said Alain Leiblang, FIFA's head of media operations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, who was part of the delegation.

"We are quite happy that the programme is on track. What we set out to do with this inspection tour, we achieved. There are challenges and adjustments that need to be made, but that's the reason for tours such as this, to address those. The quality and organisation of the inspection tour has been excellent, especially the presentations given by all the host cities we have visited. The Organising Committee is very happy with the progress being made and believe more than ever that we are on track to host an extremely successful 2010 FIFA World Cup," said the Organising Committee's Chief Competitions Officer Dennis Mumble, who led the OC's delegation on the inspection tour.

"The inspection tour signals another major achievement on the road to South Africa meeting FIFA requirements. We are very happy with the outcome. A lot of hard work has been done by the host cities and considerable progress is being made. We want to give credit to all the host cities for that," said Danny Jordaan, the Organising Committee's Chief Executive Officer.

'We are committed to ensuring that the FIFA World Cup leaves a lasting legacy of social, environmental, economic and community benefits for each host city but also for all South Africa and to demonstrate the power of football to change lives", said FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke, who will attend a Board meeting on October 16 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, at which a full evaluation report of the tour will be presented.

The inspection ended with a series of preparatory meetings for the 25 November Preliminary Draw in Durban, focusing on both the logistical and operational matters for the various draw-related activities.

The delegation was particularly impressed on the last day of the tour with the very good progress being made on Durban's stadium, which Mumble said over the last three months was "amazing".

"What is wonderful for us as a city is that we are seeing plans we put in place three years ago now rising out of the ground and coming to fruition. We're extremely excited," said Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe after the city's presentation.