The death of 43 people in Wednesday night’s stadium tragedy in Johannesburg will not affect plans to bid for the World Cup finals in 2010, according to world governing body Fifa and Safa CEO Danny Jordaan.
Fifa communications director Keith Cooper told SkySports on Thursday that a lot would have to be learned from the incident, but this would not necessarily impact on South Africa’s chances of hosting the event.
The world football controlling body announced that the 2010 World Cup would definitely go to Africa, and South Africa has already confirmed it would bid to host the event after failing to win the 2006 spectacle, which went to Germany.
“This was a tragic incident that is not good for the image of our soccer but we will be able to learn and make sure the mistakes never happen again,” said Safa CEO Danny Jordaan.
World soccer’s governing body, FIFA, expressed sorrow at the tragedy but said that they were waiting for official confirmation of the causes before making a formal statement later on Thursday.
“The president and the whole of the FIFA family are deeply distressed by the tragedy in South Africa and are in mourning along with all the families affected by the events,” a FIFA spokesman said on behalf of president Sepp Blatter.
South Africa’s worst sporting tragedy happened during a vital league match between the country’s two most popular teams – Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates — at the Ellis Park stadium.
Jordaan said he would be meeting with fellow soccer administrators on Thursday morning and said he expected that several decisions on future Chiefs and Pirates derbies would be made.
“There is no way we can allow this fixture to be played at night in future. It is too dangerous,” he said.
He also said he would seek to have tickets for future games between South Africa’s two best-supported teams sold exclusively beforehand and not at the stadium before the match.
It was the crush of thousands of ticket less fans that led to the tragedy, he added.
South Africa are one of several African countries who have stated their intention to bid for the finals in 2010 following a FIFA decision that the event would be hosted on the continent, if a suitable proposal was put forward.
Earlier this week, South African officials decided to postponed plans for a launch of their 2010 bid next month, saying it was too early to start campaigning.
“We are only going to officially launch at the World Cup finals in Asia next year, so it’s is still a very long way off,” said Jordaan.
South Africa made an unsuccessful bid for the 2006 World Cup finals, losing by just one vote to Germany in controversial circumstances last year.
While many people, particularly relatives of the victims, are trying to come to terms with the disaster, many questions remain unanswered. Security logistics will also be under the spotlight as there was clearly not enough security in and around the stadium.
Hosts Chiefs have come under criticism for their decision to take the match to Ellis Park, which can only accommodate 65 000 spectators, as opposed to Soccer City in Nasrec, which can take close to 80 000 supporters.
The Premier League has already announced they will launch an inquiry into the matter, but they are not without blame in this tragic incident. Security logistics are the responsibilities of the hosts clubs, but for matches of this magnitude, the league should have been actively involved.
When PSL chief of security David Thidiela announced his early retirement last month, the league said a committee would be in place to deal with security measures. After what happened on Wednesday, there is doubt whether that body is indeed effective.