Only 980 days until kick-off

Fri, 05.10.2007
Building site
Vergrößerung (en)
Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bergmann
"Soccer City"
In Johannesburg, on the building site of what will soon be South Africa's largest stadium, Chancellor Angela Merkel gained an impression of the preparations that are underway for 2010, when the country will host the FIFA World Cup.
The "Soccer City" stadium will seat 96,000 when the opening match of the World Cup is played there in three years.
"In 2010, the eyes of the world will be on South Africa," said Merkel, after talks with the organisers. "They have the opportunity to give billions of people a new image of their country." The Chancellor promised that Germany would be of assistance as far as possible with preparations, and wished the South Africans that their World Cup will be "a huge success".
The police forces of the two countries are already working closely and sharing information, as are the fan clubs. For stadium extensions too German experts are providing support to the South African authorities. And South Africa can learn from Germany how to best deal with FIFA, promised Merkel, with a wink.

A feeling that doesn't stop with the final whistle

There is obviously still a lot of work to do, said the Chancellor on the building site. "But I have the impression that everybody is highly motivated". She spoke with construction workers about the progress of work.
Danny Jordaan, CEO of the South African Football Association, pointed out the lasting impact of the tournament. Not only were a lot of jobs being created in the construction industry, but the entire infrastructure of the country would benefit from the investments, well after 2010.
The World Cup is also a major factor in bringing together the people of South Africa and forging a common identity. Just as Germany knew no differences between East and West in summer 2006, "Mr World Cup" hopes that in South Africa no distinction will be made between black and white.

Solar-powered public viewing

A German manufacturer of solar cells has set himself the goal of organising solar-powered public viewings in remote rural parts of South Africa. He and other German businessmen and women took part in a German-South African business conference in Pretoria. The Chancellor and President Mbeki attended the final session.
The manager of the German national football team, who accompanied the Chancellor reminded her of an important precondition for football fever in Germany in 2010. "First of all we have to qualify," Oliver Bierhoff noted soberly. As the host nation, South Africa will be playing in any case, as Germany did at the last World Cup.