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England happy with World Cup HQ

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Simon Austin | 17:19 UK time, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Fabio Capello was bemused by reports describing England's World Cup base as a "dump" earlier this week.

In fact the Italian had visited the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus near Phokeng on Monday and was hugely encouraged by what he saw.

The centrepiece of the complex, the Royal Marang Hotel, had been completed. Whereas it had been a shell when Capello last visited, in December, it now contained 82 luxurious bedrooms, a spa, sauna and two designer restaurants.

And the training pitches, which had previously been such an area of concern for Capello and his assistant Franco Baldini, were now in good condition.

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"Fabio couldn't have been more happy with what he saw and believes England have secured one of the best bases in the country," a senior Football Association insider told me.

"In particular, he really appreciated how hard they had worked on the pitches."

Much of the credit for the improvement in the pitches goes to Richard Hayden, from the Sports Turf Research Institute in west Yorkshire.

The Irishman travelled to South Africa earlier this year to work on the boggy pitches at England's base and was so successful that Fifa contracted him to work on the other teams' HQs.

The only parts of the Bafokeng complex that are yet to be finished are the gym and medical centre, which should be ready by the end of April.

Niall Carroll, chief executive of Royal Bafokeng Holdings, which owns the site, said: "We remain confident that we will meet the highest standards in every area.

"Construction remains on schedule and the primary pitches will be comparable to that of the Bafokeng Sports Palace (where England play USA on 12 June), which is rated as one of the best in the country.

"We are confident that the venue will be ready and thoroughly tested in time for the World Cup."

So while several other World Cup coaches were grumbling about the state of their HQs at a Fifa meeting in Sun City earlier this week, Capello was able to sit back contentedly.

The FA expects to sign a contract with the Campus by the end of next week - which should be a formality - and will be based there from 3 June.

england_room595.jpg
Rooms will be equipped with flat screen TVs, internet and king sized beds

It will end a two-year project for Baldini, who started looking at potential bases shortly after Capello was appointed England boss in December 2007.

At first, hotels in the Cape Town area impressed most, but had to be ruled out.
With many matches, including the final, being played on the high veldt, England needed a base at altitude if they were to stand any chance of winning the World Cup.

The Velmore Hotel in Centurion then attracted the attention of the FA. But while the hotel was first rate, the training facilities weren't up to scratch.

The opposite was true of the High Performance Centre in Pretoria, where the training facilities were excellent but the accommodation basic and split across several different buildings.

Capello is confident the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus has ticked all the boxes and can be a fitting home from home for his side during the World Cup.

* For up-to-the-minute updates, you can follow me on my Twitter feed

Comments

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  • 1. At 6:58pm on 24 Feb 2010, mpkisr wrote:

    This hotel and its facilities all look top class. I'd be interested to know whether the 'bigger' footballing nations (into which group I would tentatively place England) had any priority over the 'smaller' ones in choosing their World Cup base? Is it the case that the Englands, the Brazils and the Italys, etc., were able to have first dibs and the rest had to choose what was left over?

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  • 2. At 7:12pm on 24 Feb 2010, messien wrote:

    Is this really necessary?
    Do people need to know that the Rooms will be 'equipped with flat screen TVs, internet and king sized beds'?
    People are trying to find anything that can match the words 'england and 'world cup'.
    We have to endure the never-ending refernces to the world cup during the 12 months leading up to it as it is.
    We have to endure the endless chatter on the formation and the who should and shoudn't go 'on the plane to South Africa' drivel.
    Not forgetting the post world cup disappointment excuses by the deluded media - yes, xavi, iniesta and torres ARE better than the over rated gerrard, barry and rooney!

    the rest of the uk are tired of it

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  • 3. At 7:15pm on 24 Feb 2010, The future is bright-The Future IS Arsenal wrote:

    First post?

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  • 4. At 7:21pm on 24 Feb 2010, Unbiased soccer fan wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 5. At 7:24pm on 24 Feb 2010, rossfox wrote:

    For some reason I would LOVE to be staying in this place when the England team are there in the summer. It would be so interesting to see how all the guys interact and how Capello goes about managing them.

    I guess a fly-on-the-wall documentary would do the same thing for me. It would be like Big Brother just better.

    Get that geordie geezer that narrates it to do the voice-overs, have "three lions" by the lightning seeds and david baddiel as the theme tune, get davina mccall to present it, bob's your uncle.

    I can see it now:

    CREDITS ROLL IN
    MONTAGE OF ALL THE BEST ENGLAND GOALS AS THE THEME TUNE PLAYS
    DAVINA INTRODUCES THE SHOW "so here it is, let's go into the BB Bakofeng house..."
    GEORDIE NARRATOR - "DAY ONE, IT'S 10.04AM AND PETER CROUCH IS IN HIS BEDROOM, PRACTISING THE ROBOT...

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  • 6. At 7:56pm on 24 Feb 2010, SR819 wrote:

    I think in general a fair number of football fans and journalists are being a bit unfair on South Africa, and are almost expecting there to be some logistical problems and supporters being victims of crime, after which a lot of journalists, fans etc will nod knowingly and say "I told you so". I say we give SA a chance, and see what they can do. It's a beautiful country, and while there are socioeconomic problems which engender the problems regarding crime, prostitution etc, all countries to varying degrees suffer from it, and as long as complete information is provided to fans about which areas they shouldn't frequent, and hotel allocations are equitably and efficiently allocated, hopefully the event will pass off without any major problems and the football can take centre stage, rather than fears about supporter safety, etc.

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  • 7. At 9:09pm on 24 Feb 2010, rjaggar wrote:

    Are you saying that this is yet another story of the UK Press printing derogatory lies about foreign hosts??

    It's getting to the point where someone needs to set up a 'hall of shame' website where all this rubbish can be listed, refuted and scores kept.

    Would the BBC be suitably impartial in that regard, or are your relations with any particular Press competitors so much worse than the others that you would suffer from a 'conflict of interest'??

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  • 8. At 9:50pm on 24 Feb 2010, hodge wrote:

    rossfox it would be interesting if they did something like The Lions do for their rugby tours, with behiind the scenes stuff

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  • 9. At 9:55pm on 24 Feb 2010, akaTommySmith wrote:

    Not quite to your usual standard Simon

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  • 10. At 10:40pm on 24 Feb 2010, backinwhite wrote:

    #2
    So you click on a blog entitled "England Happy with World Cup HQ" and then complain that it is about the facilities at England's World Cup HQ??
    Like it or not the World Cup is (after the Summer Olympics) the most watched sporting event in the World. England are the only home country who have qualified, so natuarally the British Broadcasting Corporation are devoting a lot of time to their preparations.
    What is your problem???? (Like we need to ask.)
    #1,6, and 7 all made interesting comments, read them and learn what a blog is really for rather than just a place to air your personal vitriol.

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  • 11. At 10:43pm on 24 Feb 2010, Tiger777 wrote:

    Apparently Ashley Cole is getting a Single room because there are "No Girls Aloud" :)

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  • 12. At 11:11pm on 24 Feb 2010, FoxesofNuneaton wrote:

    Looks nice.
    I hope it wont be too comfy with Capello around, sneering around and making sure he is tough on players and they train when they should.
    However, where did all the stories come around where there were claims it wont be ready...looks more then ready from that picture!
    Lets hope it will be the base that spurs England to glory!

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  • 13. At 11:17pm on 24 Feb 2010, Phil wrote:

    Post # 2

    "We have to endure the never-ending refernces to the world cup during the 12 months leading up to it as it is.
    We have to endure the endless chatter on the formation and the who should and shoudn't go 'on the plane to South Africa' drivel."

    My heart bleeds for what you must 'endure'.

    Firstly, you may be well-advised to stop reading World Cup blogs on sports websites if you find this so difficult;

    Secondly, your enthusiasm to post an instant response suggests you have nothing better to do than read & discuss this so please make your mind up...

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  • 14. At 02:06am on 25 Feb 2010, archLionheart wrote:

    Well said Phil post 13.

    Post 2: This is about "England" not the UK. Go and read the drivel about how the others couldn't get there.

    Long nights of hired DVD's coming up for you!

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  • 15. At 06:48am on 25 Feb 2010, Benjy wrote:

    I was in South Africa last month, so I checked out Royal Bafokeng Stadium. I have to say the stadium looks pretty decent. Englands World Cup HQ looks well flash. Even though the World Cup is a few months away, I predict that England will go out in the Semis. Most likely on penalties!

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  • 16. At 07:08am on 25 Feb 2010, diamondronaldinho wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 07:37am on 25 Feb 2010, Jaffaman wrote:

    Psychic Benjy (Post 15)

    Is it true that all the players have already made their own version of a Pizza Hut advert, so that the player who misses the vital penalty can have their advert aired immediately after the game?

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  • 18. At 08:18am on 25 Feb 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:

    3. At 7:15pm on 24 Feb 2010, The future is bright- the future is Arsenal wrote:

    First post?

    No.

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  • 19. At 09:38am on 25 Feb 2010, eddie-george wrote:

    It's "highveld" by the way.

    Very pleased to hear, though, that South Africa is delivering as promised for the England team. It's easy to be cynical about SA's ability to host the World Cup, so stories like this are welcome news.

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  • 20. At 10:29am on 25 Feb 2010, Benjy wrote:

    Jaffaman (Post17)

    Gareth Southgate did an advert for pizza hut of him missing a penalty from Euro 96. So it could be true that the current squad has already made their own. I can't guarantee that for you though.

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  • 21. At 10:39am on 25 Feb 2010, Anuj Mital wrote:

    What nonsense! Isn't it about what these jokers do on the pitch that's important, not the hotel they're staying in. 'Wendy-ball' really makes me laugh sometimes.

    Did we get all this drivel about where the England rugby team were staying in 2003 and 2007.

    Nice post Rossfox. You need to get out a bit more.

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  • 22. At 10:58am on 25 Feb 2010, Simon Austin wrote:

    Thanks for your comments everyone.

    #1...mpk87... Good question.

    Process for deciding bases is this: Fifa hands out a brochure of 55 bases. Each country then has to nominate a first, second and third choice. If two or more countries want one base, it's first come first served in theory, although in practise the hotel has a big say in who they get, which will probably mean the biggest country willing to book the most rooms and pay the most money.

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  • 23. At 12:04pm on 25 Feb 2010, Lee Bradley wrote:

    The question is, will there be a "dentist's chair" room?

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  • 24. At 1:36pm on 25 Feb 2010, Encodia Kholofelo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 25. At 8:36pm on 25 Feb 2010, Cape Town 2020 wrote:

    In South Africa we've become almost immune to the trash journalism by parts of the media.

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  • 26. At 8:43pm on 25 Feb 2010, Cape Town 2020 wrote:

    wow. that's an awesome "dump".

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  • 27. At 4:12pm on 01 Mar 2010, jordanuk90MUFC wrote:

    If that's a dump they should try some of the B&B's in Blackpool they'd probably die of shock

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