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By ESPN Staff
Sep 7, 2007

Beckenbauer boosts S.Africa 2010 World Cup effort

CAPE TOWN, Sept 7 (Reuters) - FIFA member Franz Beckenbauer is confident South Africa will host a successful World Cup in 2010 despite the country's crime problem and other challenges clouding its preparations.

High levels of violence have raised fears that fans and players could be easy pickings for criminals in the nine host cities.

'I have trust in the government. I think they will get it under control,' the former Germany captain and coach told reporters while visiting Green Point stadium in Cape Town, venue for several 2010 matches.

Beckenbauer added he was 'very optimistic' the construction and refurbishment of the 10 World Cup stadiums would be completed in time, with Johannesburg providing two venues.

The German great, a World Cup winner as a player and coach and head of the organising committee of last year's finals in his native country, caused a stir in 2006 when he said South Africa's effort was 'beset by big problems'.

The remark came amid rumours that world soccer's governing body FIFA was worried about the slow pace of stadium construction and was interpreted as support for moving the tournament to another country, possibly Germany.

In a letter to South African organisers, Beckenbauer later said his comments had been falsely portrayed and at no point had he suggested Germany or another country should be made a substitute host.

He then apologised for the confusion and pledged his total support for South Africa.