National News

FIFA to limit blue lights

2010-05-26 14:08

Cape Town - FIFA will use blue-light escorts during the World Cup only when necessary, the soccer body's general secretary Jerome Valcke promised on Wednesday.

"It's just to recognise that why you should make noise when you don't need to make noise," he said.

He was speaking after being tackled on the issue by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who announced in February that her administration intended to ban any politician from using blue-light convoys except in an emergency.

This, she said at the time, did not include being late for a meeting.

Potential abuse of power

Speaking to media at the ceremonial handover to FIFA of the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday, Zille said she had just had a "very important meeting on the side of the pitch" with Valcke on the issue of blue lights.

This had yielded "excellent results".

She said Valcke was very well aware of the province's view on the indiscriminate use of blue lights and sirens.

"We see that as a potential abuse of power unless it is used for very justifiable reasons," she said.

She said it had been agreed that blue-light escorts would be limited to teams travelling in convoy, to heads of state and government, and to "the very top officials in FIFA who have to be sped around at different places at different times and cannot plan their programmes well in advance".

"And those are the people, we've agreed, will be escorted.

"For the rest, everyone is going to plan their times and itineraries properly so that they leave enough time to get to the places they have to except in a genuine emergency when a [escort] car will be on standby."

"Is that correct Mr Valcke?" she asked, turning to Valcke.

Security agreement

Valcke said FIFA had concluded a security agreement with the South African government which covered all the security arrangements for teams and officials provided by the host country.

"I think we have to be clear," he said.

"What we have said this morning is we don't want to disturb, when we can avoid the use of the sound system [siren] on these police cars, we'll do it.

"[But] we have to ensure that the people we need to move quickly, they can move quickly, and if there's traffic they can use blue lights and sound to make sure they can go through the traffic as fast as they can."

He said though FIFA officials would have access to escort cars, they would not use them when they did not have to.

Zille's aversion to so-called "blue-light brigades" follows a series of incidents in which convoys escorting South African politicians bullied and even threatened other road users.

Earlier this year a Cape Town student was arrested after allegedly making an obscene gesture at President Jacob Zuma's blue-light convoy.


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