Organizers of the 2010 World Cup have expressed concern about the effect the global financial crisis will have on the tournament, which is already running well over budget.
The South African government has had to allocate an extra $136 million for stadium construction as a result of rising prices, pushing total costs to nearly $2.9 billion—a tenfold increase from the original budget.
The South African rand has fallen about 30 percent against the dollar in recent weeks and as the United States and Europe move into recession, there are concerns fans will not have money to travel to the finals.
Danny Jordaan, the head of the local World Cup organizing committee, said organizers were taking a “wait and see approach” but was hopeful that the financial outlook would be more positive by 2010.
“Even if you accept people have fewer dollars in their pockets, those dollars will buy more rands. So people may still travel because the destination becomes cheaper,” he said.
Jordaan was speaking ahead of the draw for the Confederations Cup, which takes place Saturday.
The draw will decide the match schedule and composition of the two groups of the eight-team competition to be held in June 2009 as a dress rehearsal for the 2010 finals.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general, said that despite the economic crisis, tickets for the most-watched tournament in the world will still be highly-prized.
“We are not afraid even as we recognize there is a very strong crisis,” he said. “Sport is one safe business that gives something when all else is going wrong.”