Christopher Rodrigues
Christopher Rodrigues

SA World Cup a disgrace

Examine the latest available Human Development Index (HDI) figures — a measure of education, life expectancy and standard of living — and you will find that the 2010 World Cup hosts are ranked 129 out of 182 UN member states. Or a whole 19 places below both Gaza and the West Bank. The effect of the blockade of the former is not yet included in the retrospective reports but the discrepancy between South Africa’s GDP and HDI makes it, as its Gini coefficient score also reveals, the most unequal country on the planet.

Much is, rightly, made of corruption. But little is said of how market state policies fashion business opportunities out of public sector needs. Neoliberalism has turned 16 years of “freedom” into a Trojan horse of disconnections, evictions and more shacks fashioned from corrugated iron and plastic. Over a period of 14 years, the 2006 Human Development Report calculated that 34.1% of South Africans lived on less than $2 a day. The 2009 version now estimates 42.9% do.

But as atrocious as these figures are, one statistic takes the breath away. Life expectancy has, according to the South African Medical Research Council, fallen by 13 years in a similar period. Read that again. It’s an apocalypse attributable not only to Thabo Mbeki’s HIV/Aids denialism, but to the way income inequality and poverty continue to impact the disease.

It’s instructive, then, that in its 2010 Index Of Economic Freedom review, the conservative Heritage Foundation gave South African government expenditure a rare approving score noting that, as a percentage of GDP, it was “relatively low”. The corollary is that South Africans are so often protesting the absence of any public service that the country has been labelled the “capital of protest”. Against these realities, the spending of close to R33 billion on a football tournament is testament to there being no concern for the national welfare among its decision makers.

For if there was, it would have been clear that mega-events laid on for the benefit of tourists, while reaping financial rewards for an investor class, have few payoffs for the populace. Temporary, low-skilled and poorly paid jobs do not constitute a solution to South Africa’s attritional 40%-plus expanded unemployment rate, which post-2010 will witness a zero-sum increase. Nor do feel-good factors translate into effective investment in the longer term. On the contrary, as Orli Bass and Udesh Pillay of the Human Sciences Research Council insist, there is “scholarly consensus” that the multiplier for a mega-event will be lower than that for spending on local goods and services.

More pressingly, poor South Africans cannot eat a legacy discourse. With an education, health, housing and jobs crisis so severe it can only, indeed, be compared to the aftermath of a scriptural catastrophe, the government’s spending on the World Cup exacerbates an already extreme state of affairs. We should be outraged that a country with such a brutal history of forced removals has, in order to create the right brand attributes, evicted the urban poor and rounded up the homeless. Dumped into so-called “temporary relocation areas” and “transit camps” (during the preliminary draw, street children were even held in Westville Prison) these disowned South Africans make a mockery of the struggle against apartheid.

How apt, therefore, that among the brands that will benefit from this beautification strategy, will be a company that refused to disinvest during the darkest days of the old regime and which now, as an official partner of Fifa, gives its name to the Coca-Cola Park stadium? But not just anyone will be allowed to participate in what President Jacob Zuma calls “the greatest marketing opportunity of our time”. Informal traders — a significant part of the working poor — are subject to a verbatim “exclusion zone” from the bonanza in the fan parks, fan walks and stadiums. For them, the World Cup may as well be happening on another continent.

While 2010 Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan compares the staging of such an event to a “second liberation“, we shouldn’t be surprised if those who are struggling for a meaningful notion of citizenship continue their public protests during the tournament. Undoubtedly, they will be deemed unpatriotic for disrupting the whole PC-PR-Potemkin village atmosphere. They will horrify the press whose accreditation with Fifa hangs on not engaging in conduct that detracts from the sporting focus. The police will, as is routine, shoot at them with buckshot, rubber bullets and teargas.

Nonetheless, they would be right to try using the leverage afforded by this vanity project to remind the world that they — and not its elites — are South Africa’s best hope for a much-needed sense of reality.

This post was originally commissioned and published on The Guardian’s Comment is Free site.

  • http://blogroid.wordpress.com blogroid

    This has been a fascinating and most absorbing read and strangely with more thoughtful responses than the more common hysteria tht has been prevalent for some time now.

    Funny then, that as is now normal, the contribution of BEE to income disparity has been ignored. BEE has no relationship to liberalism or free markets… quite its antithesis in fact.

    IOW The BEE process has created an artificial shortage of top level talent to which the deployment policy has added a twist. No society yet created has defied the laws of supply and demand successfully for long. We didn’t either. This means that top talent can demand a disproportionate share of the revenue stream in any organisation… ergo lower wages for the expendables.

    Into this mix we have the macro revolution sweeping us all into a digital world, mediated against by chronic demand and an undersupply of talent… This demand though is exponential where the first example, BEE, is proving static with a consequent struggle over diminishing rentable assets.

    Basically what this means is eat drink and be merry chaps for the party will inevitably end and drunkards feel no pain..

    .

    s

    Finally though: All the ails that surround us in the form of this yawning income gap which our bloggist has selectively presented have various sources.The single most devastating contributor though has nothing to do with liberalism or free markets it is called BEE and it is simply an extended varition on a centuries old system of racial a

    .

  • Rod

    Good one! Have you looked at the implications of the 2006 legislation that created a series of tax bubbles around the activities in the sites colonised by F***? Not only does F*** get to make billions out of us, but it pays absolutely no tax whatsoever and so returns nothing to us. S*** Blatter goes home with the lot, paying no VAT, no income tax, not a cent. Nix, nada, no-thing bru! Google The Revenue Laws Amendment Act 20 of 2006 and be amazed.

  • Master Bates

    Chris, fascinated to read the responses to your article. There is such a desperate need by so many of us to remain optimistic in the face of these horrific facts.

    How do we balance vigilant horror with naive hope?

    A beggar in Cork City once suggested tom me, “Some of us have to appoint ourselves as the voice of conscience, while some of have to appoint ourselves the dancers at the party. So long as the dancers tolerate the voice of conscience disturbing their fun every now and again we’ll be okay. If the dancers look to silence those who act as the voice of conscience – then we’ll be in trouble. In fact, if the dancers sometimes take a little time out from the fun of the party and lend a hand to the voice of conscience even better”.

    Don’t stop reminding us that outside the party hall it’s dark, lonely, dangerous and people are very hungry.

  • Peter

    I’m with Brent & Percy but want to point out that it’s not hosting the SWC that’s the problem but the cowardly way in which SA sucked up to FIFA, letting them rule us like Britain did 200 years ago.

    We should have stood up to FIFA as regards new infrastructure costing and positions (how’s Cape Town!). South Africans should have been more involved in the design (Only 1 by SA: Polokwane). We should have stood up to FIFA regarding the ticket sale rip off and licensing rip off etc etc. We were and are being properly colonised by FIFA and will carry the scars.

  • Fhatuwani Rambau

    “Life expectancy has, according to the South African Medical Research Council, fallen by 13 years in a similar period. Read that again. It’s an apocalypse attributable not only to Thabo Mbeki’s HIV/Aids denialism, but to the way income inequality and poverty continue to impact the disease”.

    It is rather useless to provide only challenges without suggesting solutions, Brother! If you can anser this question. What do you think need to be done and by whom?. I think your article will be more relevant.

  • africa lover

    I fully agree, you have put forth what I and many other have been thinking for a long time… however judging from the reactions these many seem to be mostly white (am one of them) and probably intellectuals… otherwise they would read the Sun
    Black people, especially the poor but not only, seem to bite willingly at governement and FIFA selling propaganda…. when you talk with them it is like we are trying to kill the dream! as reactions above showed, some even see it as a race issue – why attack football but not cricket or rugby…. as if the money spent during those events matched!
    As you said we may be in for a bitter wake up!.

  • Citizen Mntu

    Excellent article. Though the truth ‘on the ground’ is even worse than described in these polite economic terms. For instance, a friend of mine, whom many other friends of mine would call a makwerekwere, has been told by his neighbours: ‘just wait til after FIFA — we will get you then’ [sic].

    What does this say? One: That South Africans who will benefit in no way from the bread & circuses have, however, fallen vaguely for a vague notion of ‘good’ in this huge national fiasco. They have fallen for a protocol of ‘hang fire’. And two: That this soccer feeding-trough is seen by the majority of ordinary South Africans (such as all my friends) as some kind of token of licence-to-come. The people are waiting, they are sitting it out, they have taken this as the formal prologue to a brand-new and desperate violence to come. And guess who will suffer? Not the fat Euro beneficiaries. Not the handful of South Africans & big corporations that take profit. It is real Africa, real Africans, those who have been duped into the behaviour of ‘support’. They will stand up, disappointed and still hungry – still desperate – and wreak havoc upon themselves & their neighbours …

  • X Cepting

    @David J Smith – you presuppose that this is actually an opportunity for the whole of South Africa to work towards a common goal. Unfortunately, it has become a very illetist project where even watching the game is not open to all. Now look at it from the mielie seller point of view: She cannot afford to watch the game, the tickets are exorbitant, she cannot even come close to selling local produced snacks to tourists, she does not own shares in any of the companies who are the official organisers, whilst she might not pay tax, the money that could have lifted her to the next level of business has been siphoned off to benefit the tenderpreneur class of society. Now, seen from her eyes, would you still respond as condescendingly as you did? You have no idea what she wants and whilst I am not her personal friend, she is my loyal supplier and laughs uproariously every time I mention supporting Bafana Bafana.

  • http://www.statssa.gov.za Lesego

    Robin, the title of this whole article is that SA World Cup is a disgrace. If that doesn’t bother you then you must be a common white South African.

  • Robin

    Hi Lesego. How about I ignore your unfounded, racist insult and get to the heart of the matter.

    Firstly, I love sport, and while football is not my favourite, I love watching, and will watch as many games as possible during the World Cup. I have nothing against football or the World Cup per se. Hopefully that takes care of the sport/excitement aspect of the World Cup.

    Secondly, if anyone takes a moment to think clearly, it is impossible to deny that the most economically needy people are those who will benefit least from this potentially economically-beneficial event. In a country with so many hard-working people in the informal business sector, things should have been done differently (business-wise) for a World Cup held in SA.

    Finally, given that the World Cup will play out economically as has been decided, and the very real, frightening facts quoted by Chris in this article – there is only one logical course of action remaining to any human being living in South Africa, whatever their skin-colour, economic status, social standing, or cultural heritage. If people in need are to be helped, it is we, ordinary people, who have to take action to assist them. We need to stop ‘passing the buck’ to a government that’s proven that economic development for the poor is not even on its agenda. Each and every one of us needs to recognise & take responsibility for the well-being of our fellow human-beings & citizens.

  • julius

    @Chris Rodrigues

    I am worried about your timing of criticism. I know that some people never believed that South Africa would deliver on building the stadia for the WC. Many of such people waited silently to see if the building of stadia for the WC would be successful or not. Now that the building program was successful, and in fact the best stadia was built, all this criticism came in. Some people still do not believe that SA will host successful WC. Of course some people like you believe the whole expenditure towards WC is misplaced. Your reasoning is that the poor will not benefit.

    Q= why now? Why did’nt you guys raise these questions at the time of bidding, i.e. motivate for the country not to ask for hosting rights. A concerned citizen should have done that and not wait till the damage has been done if any before you criticise.
    You seem to be saying you are anti-SA. The majority of people in this country are highly excited about the WC. You do not see that? Yes, not all their expectations will be met. Definately not through the jobs that they will get. By the way, there is no where in the world where the wages of workers equals those of the executive. Why do you think this should be so in SA?
    You people and many other negative people who pretend to be concerned about the poor are exposing yourself as enemies of this country.

  • http://www.statssa.gov.za Lesego

    Yes Robin, like you ignored the first guy to comment, Owen’s racist comments

  • Steve

    This article is a disgrace especially considering you had it published in International media (The Guardian).

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/davidjsmith/ David J Smith

    @Chris. Dude, reading your reply, you know the game. But don’t you think the pride and pleasure you and your team of kids would have taken in this game can translate to other kids? Even ones in near hopeless situations. So many players come from places you describe. Football is their weapon to escape the shit they face. Tevez grew up in the slums. Drogba was bundled off to france because his parents couldn’t keep him in the Ivory Coast. Benni McCarthy, while not from a totally impoverished background, didn’t have an easy start to his life on the cape flats. Lucas Radebe sent away by his parents to avoid the violence of Soweto. Ashwin Willemse, the rugby player, is another famous example of how sport changed a life. The list goes on.

    You are right, no kid should be abandoned by their government. And in many ways this is happening in our country. But the heart of the problem is not the world cup.

    I know i sound like I have drunk the Kool-Aid and I probably have but I genuinely believe sport is a powerful weapon for change. Not in a we-love-each-other type way but in fuck-you-if-you won’t-help-me-i’ll-help-me kind of way.

    Last question: will you be watching the world cup?

  • http://www.statssa.gov.za Lesego

    Chris looks like an agent

  • Oldfox

    @spoiler,

    Brazil is justified in spending what it will (est. $86 billion) on SWC 2014. Brazil can afford it without sacrificing other important developmental needs, SA can’t.
    SA inequality is now worse than in Brazil (income inequality between wealthiest and poorest SA blacks is LARGER than the income inequality between the wealthiest Brazilians (mostly white) and the poorest (mostly black).

    Brazil is using the SWC to involve many sectors of its society from artists to scientists, and not just construction companies, construction workers and soccer bosses (not forgetting Chinese factories making sweaters, Zakumi mascots, SA flags etc.)
    In SA, Dept. of Arts and Culture has not yet announced any plans for what should have been a wonderful if not glorius opportunity: the 2010 SWC opening ceremony. This should have been planned many years ago, but I guess changing street names takes precedence over a once-in-our-lifetime show of SA’s artistic talent and cultural heritage.
    Brazil is training disadvantaged youth in foreign languages and other aspects of assisting tourists, so that they will be able to get permanent jobs in the tourism industry afterwords. Over 300 000 Brazilians to be trained in tourism for SWC2014.

    The Brazilians are doing what we did not even think of doing (and too late to do those kinds of things now).

  • Oldfox

    Erratum: The Brazilians are doing what we did not even think of doing(and too late for SA to do those kinds of things now).

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/chrisrodrigues Chris Rodrigues

    @Julius: I think the phrase “enemies of this country” is best used to describe those that are responsible for the assassination-style murder of two government officials who blew the whistle on corruption in the tender process for the building of the Mbombela stadium. According to reports, which first emerged in the Sunday World, they were part of a twenty-name hit list the Sunday Times then subsequently linked to a high-ranking politician. A police investigation is ongoing but spare a thought for the victims when you watch the likes of Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, & Italy play ninety minutes of football there?

    Your patriotism seems to not only normalise excess, evictions, and exclusions but also obscene profits on the back of wage-slavery. Mine doesn’t! If you have an open mind about alternatives to the same old economics that underpinned the apartheid economy (yes – SA should be different) try watching Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. In particular, you might discover how, even in the US, executives and workers can, through self-management, earn a good-enough egalitarian wage.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/chrisrodrigues Chris Rodrigues

    @Citizen Mntu: Very worrying. You might be interested in sociologists’ Ashwin Desai’s & Goolam Vahed’s scholarly article on the WC that also includes an analysis of xenophobia: http://tinyurl.com/336rgn2

    @Steve: Don’t forget that South Africa’s extractive economy is also “internationalised”. Have a look @Percy Ngonyama’s comment on corporate globalisation & @Rod’s (thank you) link to Amendment Act 20 of 2006 (http://tinyurl.com/34aeedm) that shows how much of an export-processing zone the WC is, not just for the benefit of FIFA but also for its sponsors.

    @David J Smith: For all these reasons, my heart will be too heavy to enjoy it.

  • Scarface

    Good article – it’s factual and attacking the messenger is harsh to say the least. Let those who attack the messenger think twice next time when they vote…

    With a declining tax base, bigger Government spending, who will feed everyone in the end.

    Wake up people, the World Cup will happen regardless. What you do after the fact is what matters.

    Robin, great suggestion. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your neighbour!

    Lesego, I truly hope you are not affiliated with Stats SA :-)

  • AJ

    The World Cup is just an emotional shot in the arm for SA whilst real progress (for those who need it most) is put on hold. I dont buy this theory about downstream benefits in terms of investment and tourism. In fact a tournament (whether in 1st or 3rd world) often provides a sportsfan with an excuse to visit a place he/she would not normally have gone to. To assume they will all come flooding back in a couple of years with their families for a 5 start holiday packing out the restauarants, hotels and game farms blowing 500 euro a day is naive in the extreme. I would rather have had FIFA pay income tax on all associated WC activities as opposed to being given a bye. Yes there will be some high points, but it has in truth been a monumental waste of money to add to some more monumental wastes of money. SA needs to get real – fast.

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za Musa

    Whatever our views might be, a large majority of the poor we speak on behave of will from time to time celebrate the brilliance of humanity during the WC.
    It will not eradicate poverty nor solve crime but it will make many kids dream and create lasting memories for many.
    It might be the only thing we get right, why don’t we try and get it right?
    The persuit of happiness is a lifelong quest, even for cynics like myself, sometimes we marvel at the sheer brilliance of human beings working as a team.
    Do not dampen the spirits of the poor, whom you so elegantly represent.Allow them, even for a brief moment,to celebrate in their own backyard with the best in the sport they love.A sport that provides a little outlet where everyone, for 90 minutes, to escape the hardships of life no matter what colour or background and is evaluated on their skill and heart.
    FIFA, business, government or whatever, for that 90 minutes, means nothing.Football helped many escape the clutches of aparthied on a Saturday afternoon.It helps many forget their trials and hardships across the world today, for but a brief moment.Why don’t we, for the duration of the event, celebrate and if we can, say a kind word and help those we so often ignore but speak on behalf of as our favourite pastime?Allow yourselfs to dream, just for a moment.

  • Lesego

    What you mean, Scarface? I mean reason being?

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/chrisrodrigues Chris Rodrigues

    @Lesego: In one sense – as the Latin origin of the word agent suggests – we are all “doing” something. I am writing. You are reading. But I don’t think this is quite what you mean? Tell me @Lesego what you are “doing” when you say that “Chris looks like an agent”?

    I suspect that if you were to reflect further you would recognise aspects of what is called a “poisoning the well” fallacy. It goes (courtesy of Wikipedia’s description) something like this: 1. Unfavourable information (be it true or false) about person A (the target) is presented by another. 2. Any claims person A then makes will be regarded as false, or taken less seriously.

    It’s considered a form of crooked thinking because – to use a well-known footballing expression – it plays the person and not the ball. You are of course entitled to disagree with the arguments that I have presented above, but I expect that you do so in an appropriately intelligent manner.

  • Heritage

    you see when talking about how expats and some white people are very negative towards our country is not balcks merely playing the race cards, it is real,I am also remided of a white mate of mine who did not understand why people should be built houses ” they must go work for their houses like the rest of us ” he said,perhaps then the best thing to do for a majority that has been marginilised for centuries in their place of birth is to just leave them to catch up. I, for one, do not know how practical this alternative is given the racial inequalities the masses were subjected to for years. The majority of black people know very well of the shortcomings of this gorvenment, they know and hate corruption just like the bloggers of forums such as these, but the only difference is that they are hopefull of the future and want to see a brighter future for the country and continent because unlike our some South africans, this is the only part of the world that they can ever call home!!!!

  • scarface

    Lesego, what I mean is that you don’t string together proper sentences, let alone arguments. Looking at the Stats SA website, unemployment is shown at 25%.

    Actually, what do I care. The street tells me more than your stats.

  • Mark

    Hey Chris. I get it: you’re well read, way more clever than we are; and so on and on and on, and on. Now can I just enjoy the game I have always loved, even when I wasn’t allowed to sit next to white folks and eat from their shps and piss in their toilets. Can I just forget all that and watch my beloved sport without you trying to make me feel guilty? Please? And by the way, please favour us with another great piece ahead of England pitching for another world cup with a crippling debt in the background; or Brazil aiming at the Olympics with all their poor; and did you put poisen pen to paper to object to pollution-ridden and human rights-ignoring Greece and China when they were in the spotlight?

    C’mon Chris: this is all about you. Not us. Admit it.

  • Lesego

    Scarface, you dont expect everybody to be having a job, do you? There are those that are willingly not working some are students, some are on pension, some work sometimes and sometimes they don’t. So, really 25% is good.

  • X Cepting

    @Musa – sure and I will be with one of my neighbours watching whichever game I can, as I can as well. I some of us are conveying messages we get from those whom we interact with on a daily basis and sometimes stays next to, who has no voice here, then it is out of a sense of equality, not to deny them whatever little plessure they have left. It is not the fact that the world cup came here, or the stadiums were built but that it was done so wastefully with no regard to the real fans of soccer, the ones you describe. I think that we could have achieved both with better planning and less corruption. This just leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

  • nguni

    Was it Disraeli who said ‘there are lies, damn lies and there are statistics’. Your selective use of them is sad, but oh so transparent..

  • Dave Martin

    @ Chris Rodrigues:

    I can’t stand it when pseudo-experts start making sweeping statements like “consensus that poverty will not be addressed through tourism”. What consensus? Where do you get this crap? I have worked in Community -based and Pro-poor Tourism and you are just plain wrong.

    In the South African context, our reality is that we have millions of unemployed young people with little or no education and occupational skills. We also have a relatively high wage/low productivity economy (when compared with the rest of the developing world) which means we cannot absorb our youth into manufacturing or export-orientated industries as we will not be able to produce products cheaper or at a higher quality than Asian countries.

    One area (besides minerals) that SA has a huge advantage is that we’re a hot tourist destination and fortunately Tourism is one sector that CAN absorb large numbers of unskilled workers (cleaners, receptionists, drivers, etc) with relatively little extra training required. Although these jobs are not First World middle class jobs, these are much better than industries like construction and manufacturing where work is more physically demanding and dangerous. Also, tourism generates jobs in outlying rural areas not just near the big cities – in many remote parts of the Transkei tourism is the ONLY employer. Tourism is also a relatively labour intensive sector (jobs generated compared with capital invested) and has huge knock on benefits to related industries: restaurants, cultural activities, adventure activities, transport, crafts, retailers, etc.

  • Dave Martin

    In this debate about whether some of the stadiums were wasted expenditure, we should bare in mind that our government’s total expenditure each year is about R773 billion. The R14 billion allegedly “wasted” on stadiums was spent over 4 years so it represented about 0.5% of the government’s annual expenditure.

    What Chris, and all of us, should be lamenting is that while the SA government is spending R770 billion annually, our country is still rapidly falling down the Human Development Index – we’re only 11th in Africa now. This huge sum of money should have done a lot more to fight poverty, deliver basic services and most importantly improve education.

    Debating whether this R14 billion is a waste or not, is crying about 0.5% – we should be screaming about the 99.5% of the budget that’s not helping our people out of poverty!

  • Moss

    Hi Chris

    I find your column very biase and lack oversight.During the dark days a lot of sporting infrastructure was build and improved not to serve hthe whole South African population but only the white majority.Let me take you back in history aparteight goverment the rugby union in durban and the goverment decided to invest in building a world class stadium today known as “The Shark Tank” and only to build a dump next to it called Kings Park Soccer stadium.You fall in the same trap of those when international ugby or cricket tournaments come to our the issue of crime and poltical is not raise however when the announcement was made for the country to host 2010 world cup you and fellow columnist critised our own country.For me as a soccer loving person in this country the legacy that will be left ;is for me for he first to go and attend soccer games a world class venue without worrying about bad conditions of the stadium.Lastly do not elect yourself to be the spokesperson for the poor.You know nothing about the needs of the poor and the conditions they live under.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/chrisrodrigues Chris Rodrigues

    @ Dave Martin: I was talking about tourism associated with mega-events in particular. To quote the above mentioned researchers from the HSRC : “…there is little to corroborate (in terms of… place-promotion, infrastructure and facilities development, job creation and tourism impacts) the notion that poverty will be addressed in a significant way”. They describe scholars as being “heavily cautious” about the development benefits that proponents of these mega-events claim and point to a number of ways in which, instead, they are disadvantageous to the poor: evictions, displaced spending, maintenance costs, permanently increased food and transport prices, political repression etc.

    As regards tourism in general – don’t forget all the problems associated with dependency and the invariable “race to the bottom”. But that’s another debate.

  • Dave Martin

    @ Chris Rodrigues:
    I don’t think anyone who understands the tourism sector expected massive benefits during a one month Mega-event. The point is that SA will be projected onto virtually every TV in the world in a way that’s much more powerful than a standard tourism advert. I’ve been in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bali in the past few months and even in these non-football countries, as soon as you mention that you’re South African, everyone’s faces light up and say “world cup.” The point is that while we South Africans arrogantly imagine that everyone knows or cares about SA, the reality is that we’re a fairly irrelevant country to most people in the world. I’ve been amazed to find how many people have never heard of apartheid and although they know Mandela, they’re not sure what he was fighting for. This is the case even with many educated, young Europeans and Americans.

    The point is, that SA will be projected in a positive way into every household, with reporters giving background stories and anecdotes as well as the classic scenery shots – all of which will advertise SA as a great holiday destination for the future.

    On another note, I see that Korea AND Japan are both currently bidding to host the World Cup for a second time so soon after hosting it before. If it was such a waste of money – why do it again?

  • Robin

    @Dave Martin.
    I agree with you that events like the World Cup have great advertising potential, and potentially create huge long-term tourism awareness, and even income. However, I think that important question on which to focus on here is, “To whom is the benefit going to accrue?”

    From all that I’ve seen, heard and read, South Africa, as a nation (& I include all us from person-in-street, thru big business, to government), has not done nearly enough (some would say ‘anything) to ensure that present and future tourism benefit accrues to the segments of society that are most in need of economic development & upliftment.

    I’ve read that Brazil, even before this 2010 World Cup, is already providing training & development programmes within the economically underdeveloped groups within their country so as to ensure that World Cup (2014) benefit is felt at these most basic levels of society.

    Instead, in South Africa, we have allowed (we are all to some level responsible) our huge informal business sector to be taken out of the sphere of direct benefit from the 2010 World Cup. I have not read of any concerted efforts by government or big business to give a foot-up to the either the informal business sector, or to those needing education, funding and/or opportunity.

    The shameful truth is that it may well be true that the 2009 IPL cricket tournament may well have had more of a direct positive impact for those in need in South Africa.

  • joe

    Chris, I desperately sought out your comment now this event has almost ended but had to content myself with this piece which nonetheless helps order my frantic and enraged mind after reading Richard Calland’s flippant cover piece in this issue. His careless, sentimental posing of ‘intangibles’ unanswerables seems characteristic of the complacent intellectual middle classes of this country. I spend my days in an inarticulate rage and I am nourished by your perceptions and so urge to keep writing-write more. You are hitting the nail on the head. And these indicators while no doubt assumed in polite company are not treated with the revulsion and self criticism they deserve.