No compensation for stranded fans - FIFA

Friday, July 9, 2010

Johannesburg - The World Cup organising committee and FIFA say they will not be taking any responsibility for the King Shaka Airport chaos that led to a number of soccer fans missing the semi-final match between Germany and Spain on Wednesday night.

Five commercial aircraft carrying fans from Johannesburg could not land at the airport due to lack of parking space. This after eight privately owned jets carrying celebrities and VIPs apparently refused to make way for the commercial flights that were circulating over the airport.

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) spokesperson Nikki Knapp confirmed the incident describing it as "disappointing and regrettable". She said a combination of a technical glitch and the refusal by the aircraft to move led to the chaos. The individuals involved in the incident were known to Acsa but will not be named, she said.

But FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke made it clear at a press conference on Thursday that heads should roll. "We refuse to take any responsibility for what happened and I would like to make it clear now that it is not our responsibility and from our side there will be no indemnification by FIFA," he said.

LOC chairman Irvin Khoza said the incident was regrettable but expressed his hopes that Acsa would be able to redress the matter.

Speaking during a TV interview Knapp admitted Acsa could be facing a possible legal showdown saying the organisations was looking at its "rights versus obligations". "We did not expect this to happen. We have come a long way with this tournament having handled more than 32 000 flights coming in and out since the beginning...we are very disappointed and we regret this," she said.

Asked if ACSA would be compensating the angry fans who missed the crucial match, Knapp said: "We are looking at it, we are looking at what are our rights and our obligations".

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