FIFA president Blatter to assess World Cup preparations

BERNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – FIFA president Sepp Blatter will carry out a personal inspection of South Africa's 2010 World Cup facilities later this month, world soccer's governing body announced on Thursday.

FIFA said Blatter would spend four days in the country from September 14-17 "to get a first-hand impression of the progress of the preparations for next year’s Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup".

According to the itinerary released with the statement, Blatter will inspect several sites including Cape Town’s new Greenpoint stadium and Johannesburg’s Ellis Park and Soccer City stadiums.

He will also hold talks with South African president Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), and regional government officials.

South Africa’s preparations for the World Cup have come under frequent scrutiny with the readiness of stadiums, infrastructure and security issues among the main concerns.

FIFA and local organisers said last month that preparations and stadium construction were on schedule.

During Euro 2008, Blatter told Austrian television that FIFA had contingency plans in place should South Africa be unable to stage the sport’s biggest event.

He later said, however, that only a natural disaster would prevent the country from doing so.