World Cup boosts S.Africa economy

Tue Mar 2, 2010 2:37pm GMT

By Mark Gleeson

DURBAN (Reuters) - The World Cup has boosted South Africa's economy during a global recession but the tourism industry must not rip off foreign visitors during the soccer spectacular, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Tuesday.

At a joint press conference with Motlanthe, FIFA president Sepp Blatter attacked sceptics who doubted South Africa could organise the tournament but said sometimes he had needed to push authorities to ensure everything would be ready on time.

"From time to time we had to put on some pressure but I never had any doubt. Now it's time for the world of football to accept the tournament will go ahead in South Africa," he said as the 100-day countdown began to the World Cup.

"We have come a long way to where we stand now only 100 days from kick-off. It has been a long road paved with trust and confidence but with patience as well," Blatter said, repeating a well-worn theme of several months.

"There was a lot to do to change mentalities and to convince people, even within FIFA," he said of the decision to allow only African countries to bid for the hosting of the 2010 finals, adding, "a dream is now a reality".

Motlanthe said the World Cup had brought major economic benefits to South Africa.

"We invested billions in infrastructure ahead of the world recession and those benefits have been already felt by all South Africans. The hosting of the World Cup will give an important impact to tourism. The country stands to benefit greatly from it," he said.


<p>FIFA president Sepp Blatter attends a news conference on the progress of preparations for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, December 15, 2008. REUTERS/Issei Kato</p>
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