Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, gave South Africa's preparations for the 2010 World Cup his backing yesterday and dismissed concerns over public transport problems.
"South Africa is progressing well. We are working hand in hand with the South African Football Association and the now-founded organising committee," Blatter said in Cape Town. "I'm sure that the South African World Cup in 2010 will be a milestone not only for this country, for Africa but the world."
South Africa will become the first African nation to host the World Cup, having edged out Morocco for the right to stage the event. But local media have raised concerns over whether organisers can complete an ambitious upgrade of the country's weak transport system ahead of 2010 in time to cope with the hundreds of thousands of expected World Cup visitors.
Critics are alarmed over possible delays in building a 20 billion rand (£1.75bn) high-speed train linking Pretoria and Johannesburg. The project is a key part of ambitious plans to improve public transport, although it was not included in the winning bid proposal.
Blatter said Fifa, football's world governing body, was not concerned about South Africa's preparations and believed that the organising committee would solve any problems that arose.
South Africa has a limited train and bus service with most commuters relying on ageing and often dangerous mini-bus taxis. The government plans a major project to upgrade the taxi service.
Blatter said Fifa would set up offices in South Africa in 2006 and once next year's World Cup in Germany was over, work for 2010 would move "into full swing". He said he was confident the event would prove to the world that an African country was capable of organising the World Cup.
Blatter, 69, also said that he may stand for another term as Fifa president after 2007. "There are two conditions to that: if I still have good health then I'm available and the second one depends on the national associations. If they say 'yes, president you have done a good job but it's not yet finished, stay again', then I will do it," he said.Reuse content