FIFA has expressed concern that the world economic downturn would effect the number of visitors to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
Horst Schmidt, FIFA consultant to the next World Cup organisers, said marketing of the tournament was needed in the coming months to persuade fans to travel for the tournament.
“There is a concern that people will not come in the numbers we expect from aboard,” said Schmidt, chief organiser of the 2006 World Cup in Germany and now overseeing the preparations for 2010 told the Soccerex conference.
“It’s very important to promote in the next months. Hopefully the football people will still travel. It’s important that they join and follow their teams and participate in the event.”
Schmidt’s South African counterpart Danny Jordaan said positive results in the opening qualifying matches for European teams like England, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands boded well for the numbers of visitors travelling to South Africa in 2010.
“These are teams with huge support base. Even if those fans have fewer pounds or euros in the pocket, they will still benefit from the exchange rate,” said Jordaan.
“South Africa has become a cheaper destination. But the real trigger will be if the fans believe their teams are performing well.”
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, speaking at the same ceremony, said if the current economic downturn had happened some 18 months ago, preparations would have been impacted.
“Luckily most of the work is in place and on its way. But there is still an escalation of costs and it’s a difficult time for South Africa. FIFA is making sure we keep down the number of requirements,” Valcke said.