Fill in the blanks
While FIFA's evaluation of Egypt's potential to host the 2010 World Cup was encouraging, some basic points were missed out. Amira Ibrahim
clarifies the situation
Last week's technical study by FIFA, which is being used to evaluate which country will host the 2010 World Cup, put South Africa in first place in the race. But the report also concluded that Egypt had the potential to stage an excellent tournament as well.
It described Egypt's stadiums as "very good", its standard of football as "strong with good youth development", and its infrastructure and telecommunications as "capable of handling the 2010 FIFA World Cup". And we have an "excellent hotel infrastructure, with more than enough rooms for all participants".
We also were commended on our medical facilities, our ticketing policy and the nation's internal safety and security.
But in truth we could have done even better.
A few things in the report were inexplicably missed. Of major importance, for example, and something that was not mentioned in the report at all, was the fact that Egypt is the only African country to have not one but two satellites, Nile Sat 1 and Nile Sat 2, for media and IT purposes. There was no mention as well that the government had agreed to invest hugely in this sector.
In transportation, FIFA inspectors came to the conclusion that Egypt's roads are good and airports comply with international standards. But it would have been nice had they pointed out that it takes just one hour maximum to fly from northern Egypt to the southern most part of the country -- around 1,000 kilometres. And while the report talked about Egypt's underground, the first one in Africa, it failed to say that a new railway line will be built leading to the 6 October City, one of the prospective host venues. Also, a new rail route will link the underground to Cairo International Airport, meaning that the public can reach any stadium in Cairo or Giza within the twinkling of an eye.
What was particularly odd is that while FIFA described South African transport facilities as excellent, its inspectors failed to visit three cities that could play host because they were too far away.
To judge Egypt's internal security system as just 'good' seemed a bit unfair given that Egypt is one of the world's more safer countries for tourists as well as residents, and when compared to South Africa which has by some accounts the worst crime in the world of any country not in a war zone. So unsafe is South Africa that the report recommended that the public not wander out of certain boundaries for fear of encountering trouble.
The report made it a point to say that should the World Cup be held today, not a single game could be played in any stadium in Egypt or Morocco because no facility was ready. But the World Cup will not be played today but rather six years from now. And Egypt has started renovation works on one stadium while three stadiums are under construction, proving the seriousness of the Egyptian bid. In all, more than LE1 billion will be spent by the government to pay for the construction of new stadiums and carry out renovation works at all sports facilities.
The FIFA report gave Egyptian and South African football fairly equal footing despite the fact that Egypt is one of the leading lights in football in Africa on both club and country level. It has gone to two World Cups; the first was the first for an African country, in 1934. There have been 27 titles won by the national team and Egyptian clubs as opposed to nine by South Africa whose football, the inspectors conceded, is not as deeply rooted.