A second major 2010 venue missed its completion deadline for next year’s Confederations Cup — just when Fifa boss Sepp Blatter was visiting the country.
But unlike Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, from which Fifa has already taken hosting rights, the hammer is yet to fall on the Free State Stadium.
Fifa has set a December 2008 completion deadline for the stadium, while the Mangaung municipality set a deadline of August 30 2008. The municipality has now set a construction deadline of November 2008 for the 45 000-seater stadium. By shifting the deadline it risks being left out of the Confederations Cup.
In July the Mail & Guardian reported that Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke took a decision on behalf of the 2010 local organising committee (LOC) to remove the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality from hosting Confederations Cup matches after the council allegedly shifted its construction deadline four times.
George Mohlakoana, Mangaung’s chief executive for 2010, acknowledged the risks of not meeting the deadline.
“We should have communicated the Fifa deadline of December 2008 to the community and not the internal target of August 2008 that we set,” Mohlakoana said. “I guess we were optimistic. Although we are well within the Fifa deadline, it puts us under pressure to deliver in time. We’re confident that we will.”
Mohlakoana said the council had identified a number of reasons for the delays. “Underground services were not on the construction plan. There were illegal strikes, the stadium was used for rugby and football matches and the contractor underestimated the magnitude of the work.”
The RMIP Joint Venture (Ruwacon, Meyker Re-teng Construction, Ikaneng Developments and Promania 128 cc) which is building the stadium raised concerns earlier this year about the venue being used for Bloemfontein Celtic’s home matches and the Cheetahs’ Super 14 matches.
Butana Komphela, the chair of Parliament’s sports committee, said municipal officials have their “backs against the wall”.