FIFA monitoring swine flu outbreak

JOHANNESBURG — The world football governing body FIFA has said it is too early to say whether or not the outbreak of swine flu will affect next month’s Confederations Cup in South Africa.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said they were monitoring the outbreak of the fever that sparked alerts throughout the world.

By last Friday, there were only two reported swine flu cases in South Africa of two women who had recently travelled from Mexico.

The swine flu outbreak — due to a new strain of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 not previously reported in pigs — has killed up to 160 people in Mexico, the epicentre of the epidemic that has spread fast throughout the world.

“We are not sure about the impact of the swine flu outbreak in South Africa,” Valcke said.

“But we are closely monitoring the issue because it might be a threat to the Confederations Cup.”

FIFA was in 2003 forced to move the women’s World Cup from China to the United States because of a SARS outbreak in the Asian country.

“We are monitoring the situation and we hope it will be under control before the seven teams move from their countries to South Africa for the Confederations Cup,” said Valcke.

“We will cancel only if we feel that we have to. If there are no risks and if we have all the necessary assurances, the competition will go ahead.”

The Confederations Cup is scheduled for June 14 to 28.

The participating teams are Brazil, Egypt, Spain, Iraq, New Zealand, the USA, Italy and the hosts South Africa.

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