THE controversial Red Hot Chili Peppers rock concert hangs in the balance after the 2013 African Nations Cup local organising committee revealed on Thursday that the Confederation of African Football (Caf) was yet to grant permission for the American band to play at FNB Stadium in February.
The 2013 African Nations Cup will be hosted in South Africa between January 19 and February 10 and, just as Fifa did during the 2010 World Cup, Caf will take over the venues that will host the continental showpiece.
The band is scheduled to play at FNB Stadium on February 2. But with the final of the tournament set for the same venue eight days later, Caf’s approval is required before venue operators Stadium Management SA can host the concert.
Local organising committee CEO Mvuzo Mbebe was to write a letter to Caf on Thursday night and he was hopeful that the continental soccer governing body would allow the music concert to go ahead.
"They (Caf) have a right to say no and at the end of the day they are the owners of the event," he said. "I have never been a pessimistic person and I do not think that we will expect a negative response."
Libya was initially supposed to host the tournament but a deal was struck that allowed South Africa to come in at short notice and host the event when the North African country realised it would not meet the deadlines set by the Caf.
Mbebe said FNB Stadium and other venues in the country had existing contractual obligations that could not be easily broken because they were brokered before South Africa was awarded the 2013 event.
He said while he was not happy that he was now at Caf’s mercy, and had to cross his fingers that the soccer governing body would agree to his request, there was very little he could do in the circumstances.
"I think that if all things were equal, no this situation is not ideal. But in fairness we came in late and we started the process in the beginning of the year. But if people had existing contracts, what else can you do? You cannot just change contracts all willy-nilly."
Questions have been raised about the wisdom of pushing ahead and trying to host a rock concert in the middle of the Nations Cup, given the poor condition of the pitch at the stadium at the moment.
But councillor Chris Vondo, a member of the mayoral committee responsible for community development, said the existing pitch could be removed after the Soweto derby on December 8 and Desso GrassMaster would be laid.
The Desso surface is composed of natural grass combined with artificial fibres, and will cost just under R6m to be installed.
Vondo said they were desperate to generate revenue from streams other than sport, and installing the new surface would resolve the current poor pitch conditions at the venue.
Both Mbebe and Vondo said they were confident there would be enough time to get the new pitch in before the start of the African Nations Cup next year.
• First National Bank’s naming rights at Soccer City were confirmed in court this week and the venue will be known as the FNB Stadium, in the latest instalment of the running dispute between the banking group and Stadium Management SA.