Capello World Cup worries mount as WAGs plan base at luxury hotel just 15 miles from England camp
Published 22:50 25/02/10 By Martin Lipton
Fabio Capello's World Cup worries mounted last night as it emerged the England WAGs are planning their own base-camp 15 miles from the squad’s Rustenburg headquarters.
Capello has promised there will be no repeat of the 2006 “circus“ at Baden Baden that distracted Sven Goran Eriksson’s squad and pledged to limit access to the players from their families.
But while this time there will be no officially sanctioned WAGs retreat, the FA is powerless to prevent them becoming a magnet for the world’s media.
And officials at the luxury Palace of the Lost City hotel on the Sun City resort a half-hour drive from the Royal Bafokeng complex are already making plans to welcome a full-scale WAG army in June.
Gert Venter, Sun City’s Resort Events and Incentives Manager, revealed: “Obviously, with the England team being based just 20km away from here, we anticipate a lot of people from the UK to use this as their base.
“At this stage, we cannot confirm who will be coming to stay with us, but we anticipate that we will be getting some high profile wives and girlfriends here during the World Cup.
“This place offers the luxury and the security that that profile of guest would expect.”
The Palace, opened in 1992 but the height of luxury, offers four top of the range suites, previously used by the likes of Sir Elton John, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods and Oprah Winfrey, costing from £3,800 per night.
Every room is equipped with five-star fixtures and fittings while the resort also offers exclusive shopping boutiques plus the chance of safari trips and visits to the local gold and platinum mines.
It had been thought the WAGs would base themselves on the island of Mauritius, a four-hour flight from South Africa, where the temperatures will touch 25 degrees Celsius.
That came after Capello made it clear his squad would only be granted access to their families for the 24 hours after their matches, with further restrictions expected if England progress to the latter stages.
Capello insisted after England qualified: “It will not be like Germany, absolutely not. Please!
“The players will have one day with their family, with the girls and friends. It will be one day a week, after each game and that is enough. That’s it. If they do not want to come for the day, then they should stay at home.”
While Sun City sees temperatures plummet to near zero at night in June, they will reach 21 or 22 degrees above during the day but the opulent and exclusive luxury on offer has clearly brought a change of mind from some of the families.
Capello is aware that Eriksson’s players felt they were obliged to spend time with their families when they wanted to prepare properly for games.
Frank Lampard, desperate to make amends for his performances in Germany, conceded recently: “I don’t want the distraction. I felt this at the last World Cup.
“I don’t want the women staying somewhere round the corner, so I’m thinking, “Does she want me there today? I want to rest today, I don’t really want to go out and see her, but the other players are going, so should I?“’
That is the issue that now confronts Capello and while his priorities are footballing ones it looks like another unwelcome hurdle the Italian must overcome.