The playing surfaces for the four venues to be used for next month's Confederations Cup will be in top condition and comply with FIFA’s stringent standards for pitches used at official events.That was the assurance given this week by the Confederations Cup LOC (Local Organising Committee) head of competitions Derek Blanckensee. Blanckensee said that he was working closely with groundsmen at the four venues, namely Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Ellis Park, Loftus and the Free State Stadium.
Loftus and the Free State Stadium will be used for Super 14 and British and Irish Lions matches prior to the kick-off on June 14 of the tournament widely regarded as a dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup finals. The worry has been that playing rugby before an international soccer match could churn up the pitch.
At a final Confederations Cup briefing held at SAFA House a month before the competition kicks off, Blanckensee revealed, "We have received fantastic cooperation from the rugby officials at those venues. We have a plan in place to make sure that even after rugby matches we will be able to fix the surfaces that get damaged. In fact, in a critical case, we have a contingency plan to replace the entire pitch if drastic action is needed."
Blanckensee said that teams and fans would be treated to world class football on world class surfaces. He continued, "The Royal Bafokeng pitch is ready and in superb condition. I accept that, in places, Ellis Park was looking rough for recent PSL [Premier Soccer League] matches. But that will all be rectified during the next four weeks."
Danny Jordaan, the CEO of the 2010 LOC, pledged his support for the South Africa Rugby Union's 2015 World Cup bid. He said, "We have enjoyed fantastic cooperation from SARU. We will go out of our way to assist them with their 2015 bid as we have lots of documents that helped us to secure the 2010 World Cup which will be of great assistance to SARU."
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com