Monday, July 12, 2010

South Africa 2010; A Success, or An Inconvenient Truth?

World Cup 2010 was officially closed last night. Spain won the championship and became one of the only two teams in history after West Germany to win both the European Championship and also the World Cup.

South Africa succeeded in hosting one of the biggest events in sporting calendar. With spectators exceeding 3 million people, it is the third nation to record the feat after the United States (1994) and Germany (2006). The total profit made by FIFA through this world cup is around 2 billion pounds.

This event has put South Africa on par with other powerful countries of the world, or has it?

An Inconvenient Truth

First heralded as a turning point for an unlucky continent, Africa's first-ever world cup has brought more harm than good to Johannesburg.

Africa has always been an unlucky continent. Rich in natural mineral, it was conquered by foreign power early in history and lived through it via slave trade. South Africa, for example, was once the global leader in gold-mining industry. It has almost all essential commodities except petroleum products and bauxite. It is also the only country in the world that manufactures fuel from coal.

Nevertheless, South African rarely enjoy the luxurious lifestyle that coats their foreign colonizers. Majority of Her people are still living in poverty and crime rate is high, averaging 50 murders a day.

South Africa is one of the smallest economies ever to have organised a World Cup. And with 40% unemployment and a further 30% of the population living on less than £100 a month, its balance sheet is far more stretched than that of recent host nations, such as Germany, Korea-Japan or France.

So when FIFA handed South Africa the hosting rights of the 2010 World Cup, the continent went berserk.

All in all, the country spent 4 billion pounds on infrastructure development in the nine host cities. Transportation system was upgraded and it was so new that the South African didn't know how to use them. Stadiums were upgraded to comply to international standards. Hotel owners were at first happy to see bookings flocking in, but were soon dismayed by critism from tourists.

FIFA also pressured the South African Government to pass the World Cup bylaw, which restricts informal traders to trade near the stadium.

The informal traders are a crucial part of any african economy, and banning their activities is almost similar to banning them from eating in a buffet party.

Economic Benefits

President of FIFA, Sepp Blater said that the event was about "giving back to Africa what the continent has given to world football through her players". FIFA promised to build 20 "center of hope"- football academies in Africa.

The locals, however will never get to enjoy the benefit of the world cup. After the Apartheid, South African are still living in the shadow of their past. They are still haunted by the same ghost that infiltrated their government 20 years ago. The rich are still oppressive and the poor are getting poorer. The exorbitant ticket price of the event are not meant for the poor, and thus attendance was poor, despite hitting the 3 million mark.

It is said that the tickets were sold at discounted price to the locals in a bid to "save the face" for FIFA to make up for the empty seats. It was evident in the first few days, especially in matches not featuring African countries; empty seats were everywhere, and even the vuvuzela couldn't help out with the grim atmosphere.

Jacob Zuma
I saw this dude in the TIMES magazine, and I expected him to use this world cup as a stepping stone to further enhance his position as the President.

Honestly he did nothing for the event itself. He was up there when everyone else was working their ass out, and there were rumors of corruption within his government. I cannot be sure about the amount of money that went down the drain, or into someone's pocket, but one thing is certain; corruption is still at large in Africa... and the one who suffers the most? The people...

This world cup has produced a new Champion. Spain will be hoping for an economic boost following the victory and the Dutch will be questioning their luck again. =P

As for the South African... the rich gets richer while the poor gets poorer. An inconvenient truth indeed..


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