Blatter finger-wagging causes offence: Fifa supreme Sepp Blatter has been laying into South Africa's World Cup organisers, accusing them of being lax on marketing. He has also blasted the performance of the local team, Bafana Bafana. Is he justified or trying to make a meal of normal glitches? asks Tom Nevin.

Author:Nevin, Tom
Position:WORLD CUP WATCH

Rightly and righteously, the men and women charged with putting the many pieces together to make South Africa ready for the 2010 soccer World Cup get a little indignant when their efforts are continually harped upon.

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So when Fifa supremo Sepp Blatter swept into South Africa in mid-September for a progress check and was clearly unsatisfied with a lot of what he saw, and said as much, his criticism sent local football administration feathers flying.

He detailed his unhappiness at down-key marketing and promotion of the event, possible accommodation shortages, the local football team's underperformance and whether or not the transport system would be up to scratch come June 2010.

Hard-pressed Local Organising Committee (LOC) officials, constantly under fire from critics at home and abroad, went on an offensive of their own, quickly joined by parastatals and 2010 organisations. Blatter was disappointed at the lack of publicity material on display around South Africa promoting both the World Cup in 2010 and the Confederations Cup a year earlier, and called for constant reminders.

"There need to be banners around the cities about the 2010 World Cup. When you walk around cities, you don't see banners," he protested. "The expectation for hosting the World Cup is much higher than any other world event--including the Olympics.

"The kick-off starts now for next year's Confederations Cup. By now, every city that will be hosting World Cup matches should be creating their own identity around the branding of the World Cup--like in South Korea and Germany."

South Africa's Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the event countered Blatter's charge that they were not punting the occasion strongly enough by saying South Africa did not wish to compete with Beijing while the Olympics were being staged.

"The World Cup is in 2010 in June, and if you create a buzz in September 2008 you will have to sustain it until 2010," said LOC chief executive Danny Jordaan. "Was there a buzz in Germany in 2004?

"You have to take advantage of the world media spotlight and, now that the Olympics are over, it is back on us. Let's get a high impact and maintain it. It is a question of getting the most efficient return for your budget."

On a more conciliatory note, he conceded that "Marketing is important; it is the lifeblood of the tournament, we agree with Fifa."

"We won't be bulldozed"

Blatter also rubbed up the wrong way the hospitality sector - both...

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