Mark Gleeson

Yet another SWC faux pas

2009-02-10 09:03
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

It is yet another of those delicious South African ironies that the first of the 2010 World Cup stadiums is ready this coming weekend … yet Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria marks this rather momentous milestone with a Super 14 game.

That is yet another public relations faux pas from an organising committee who have done almost nothing to trumpet the progress being made in getting the infra-structure for the World Cup ready on time.

Building or renovating 10 stadiums for this massive event has been a major, and increasingly expensive, task, one few outside of our borders thought South Africa would be capable of pulling off.

Yet Pretoria is ready, Coca Cola Park and Bloemfontein are almost there and Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace is supposed to be done by the end of next month. There is a Bafana Bafana game scheduled there on March 28.

Port Elizabeth will supposedly be ready in June and the five remaining stadiums are all scheduled to be finished in December … give or take a month or two.

You’d think given all the sceptism that around South Africa’s ability to be ready in time for the enormous event, the fact the country is already one-tenth of the way would be trumpeted to the stars.

Instead there has been an almighty botching of a public relations opportunity and the spurning of yet another chance to derail the doubters and celebrate the progress in getting the infra structure for 2010 ready.

But that’s been pretty much the case since South Africa won the right to host the 2010 event some five years ago - a complete absence of marking the significant progress we see going on around us every day.

Veritable citadel of rugby

Loftus Versfeld was supposed to host the Kaizer Chiefs match against Moroka Swallows last weekend, although no one had told the city nor the stadium owners. It seems it was a unilateral decision by football and it was only after they had gone ahead and announced the venue for the match that the city panicked and shut down the game. They were not ready with a few minor snags at the venue and didn’t want any possible bad publicity. Oops! Well they're getting it now.

Loftus, a veritable citadel of rugby, is of course the home of the Blue Bulls, who have been generous over the years in sharing the venue with a variety of clubs who have also used it as a home ground. The old apartheid Pretoria city council was intransigent at first but once the barrier was pulled down, Mamelodi Sundowns, then SuperSport United and more lately Kaizer Chiefs have called Loftus home.

The stadium has undergone some major renovations, including a new roof on the northern side plus an increase in capacity up to 50 000.

The Super 14 fixtures were set some time ago and there can be no qualms about the Bulls going ahead with their schedule, starting with Reds this weekend.

But someone somewhere should have been the potential of a proper re-opening and a publicity coup for our 2010 World Cup. It seems all so sloppy that football misses this milestone.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24. 


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