Football: S Africa stakes claim to stage World Cup

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The Independent Online
SOUTH AFRICA went on the offensive yesterday after officially entering the race to stage the 2006 World Cup.

"We have more than enough world-class stadia for the event and superb road, rail and air links," the World Cup bid committee chief executive, Danny Jordaan, claimed in Johannesburg.

England, Germany, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana and Morocco are the other contenders and a spokesman for Fifa, world football's ruling body, said no more candidates were expected before today's deadline.

Jordaan dismissed claims from some rivals that a high crime rate makes the country unfit to host the event. "We hosted the 1995 rugby union World Cup, the 1996 African Nations' Cup and the 1998 athletics World Cup without incident and are constantly gaining ground against organised crime," he stressed.

Jordaan criticised those who claim Africa will not be ready by 2006, saying there were more flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town than from London to Manchester. "Europe wants to determine when they are ready and when we are ready. They are not entitled to decide when we are ready. We have met the requirements to host the World Cup," he said.

Morocco, which unsuccesfully bid for the 1994 and 1998 finals, added its name to the list earlier this month. The other countries all submitted their official bids in November.

Fifa inspections will be completed by 31 January 2000, with the decision being made by its Executive Committee in March 2000.