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S. Africa not to share WC cake with neighbors
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South African Local Organizing Committee for the 2010 Soccer World Cup has made a U-turn on its earlier promise to share the cake.

After saying to allow neighboring countries to host part of the 55,000 Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) officials, the committee said it now has the capacity to handle the contingent, website of The Nation newspaper of Malawi reported Monday.

The development has left Malawi's chances of benefiting from the global soccer show-piece hanging by a thread as the country will now have to start making fresh negotiations with tour operators based in Europe if it is to get a slice of the cake.

Tourism Association of Malawi (MTA) executive director Sam Botomani and assistant director of tourism Alice Magombo told a news conference in Blantyre last Friday that mid-last year the South African Local Organising Committee indicated that it would share with its neighbors some business which included hosting of the officials.

"However, at the recent meeting organized earlier this month in Johannesburg, we were told by the South African Local Organizing Committee that the good-will has been withdrawn and that the FIFA officials will be taken care of by the host country," said Botomani.

He said that the development has left Malawi praying for the good-will from European countries with which Malawi has strong ties like former colonial masters Britain for its teams such as England and Scotland to camp in the country in the run-up to the football fiesta.

But with both England and Scotland misfiring and failing to even qualify for the Euro 2008 set for this June, it remains uncertain whether they may make it into the group of 32 teams to be in South Africa in 2010.

Magombo said the misfiring of England and Scotland will not prevent Malawi from preparing for the 2010.

Quizzed on what other strategies Malawi is using to coax soccer enthusiasts to visit the country, Magombo said the ministry is relying on the power of the Malawi Tourism website.

"Let me be honest with you, we cannot slot adverts on international television channels like CNN because it is absolutely expensive. We, however, believe the website will help us to market Malawi," said Magombo.

Some members of MTA expressed concern that the government, through the Ministry of Tourism, has monopolized the whole 2010 show and that they are only being engaged in the final hours.

(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2008)

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