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Old 06-06-2007, 02:12   #61
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Join Date: Sep 2006

Double disaster taints image of African football

JOHANNESBURG, June 5 (Reuters) - Two football related disasters in Africa at the weekend have set back efforts to project a positive image of the 2010 World Cup finals.

Twelve people died in a stampede at the end of an African Nations Cup qualifier in Zambia on Saturday, followed 24 hours later by the death of 23 supporters, including Togo's sports minister, in a helicopter crash in Sierra Leone.

The disaster in Zambia was the second such incident in a decade in a country that is being earmarked to host peripheral activities before and during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Three children were among the dead after spectators stampeded through a narrow exit at the Konkola stadium in Chililabombwe, where Zambia had beaten Congo, in order to get to free buses. More than 40 were also injured.

In Freetown, Togo sports minister Tata Avlessi Adaglo and 21 supporters died when the helicopter ferrying them on a seven minute flight from the Sierra Leone capital to the airport crashed.

Togo had beaten Sierra Leone 1-0 in their Nations Cup qualifier.

The two disasters follow closely on a bid by FIFA and the South African organisers to lay to rest doubts over the country's ability to host the finals, the first major sporting event of its kind on the African continent.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter last week used the FIFA Congress in Zurich to show support for South Africa saying: 'The World Cup is staying in Africa, there is absolutely no problem about this.

'It is staying in South Africa. Plan A is South Africa, Plan B is South Africa, Plan C is South Africa and Plan D is South Africa.'

South Africa 2010 Local Organising Committee chief executive officer Danny Jordaan said the country had to accept that Africa's colonial legacy was always going to leave its ability open to question.

'Africa has never had a chance before to show what it can do and as a result there will always be doubters who expect us to fail. There is nothing we can do to change their minds until they see a well organised event in 2010.

'In the mean time we have to learn to live with the constant speculation about our ability,' he told Reuters.

Jordaan has been pushing FIFA in recent months to allow more World Cup activities to take place in other countries in the southern African region, including Zambia.

FIFA has already hinted they would accept a change of rules that would allow teams to stay in neighbouring countries before matches at the World Cup finals.

Southern African countries are also expected to host a raft of pre-tournament friendlies in May 2009.

But Zambia's participation will now be in doubt.

The main stadium in the capital Lusaka has been closed because of its dilapidated state. Future use of the alternative venue in Chililabombwe, on the country's Copperbelt close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, is now expected to come under close scrutiny

In recent weeks, FIFA officials have been travelling throughout Africa inspecting stadiums before the start of qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals.

FIFA last year warned that venues that were not safe enough would be prohibited from hosting World Cup qualifiers.


Uh oh. =/
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