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Jan 19, 2010

SAFA hit back over Pele concerns

The South African Football Association (SAFA) have hit back at concerns from Brazilian World Cup legend Pele over security at this year's event.

Pele was quoted as saying the attack on the Togolese national team at the African Nations Cup in Angola would have an effect on the security of the World Cup, but SAFA's Kirsten Nematandani maintained that Brazil's figurehead had been to the country many times and left without a scratch.

"We want to assure the world that they will be safe in South Africa," Nematandani said. ''People must remember that Africa has 52 countries. Angola is far away from South Africa.

''There is a perception in the world that Africa is a one country where people know each other. If that's really what Pele said then he's being unfair. The security will be tight during the World Cup."

Nematandani also reassured the fans that Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and many other Brazilians felt safe in the country.

"There are many Brazilian soccer players and officials working in South Africa - in fact, former Bafana coach Joel Santana also returned to Brazil without a scratch. Brazil national team has been to South Africa on three occasions, the most recent one during last year's Confederations Cup."

Pele had told AP that Nelson Mandela's presence could be key to addressing security concerns and that FIFA were concerned over the 91-year-old's safety.

"What happened with Togo had an effect on the World Cup organisation," Pele said. "I hope it turns out well. People are worried about Nelson Mandela's health. He's a man that has the support of all South Africans. He has control over everything. The biggest worry at FIFA is if something happens to Mandela."

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