South Africa faces mounting World Cup-related economic woes

(People's Daily Online)
Updated: 2010-07-12 09:35
Large Medium Small

It's easy to find open bars in South Africa, but how many of those sitting in the bars are thinking of economic problems?

As the World Cup is drawing to an end, FIFA has already begun to prepare for the successful end of the event though the finals are not yet over. FIFA made huge gains of over 3 billion U.S. dollars from this year's World Cup, through the sale of broadcast rights and corporate sponsorship in particular, making it the most profitable World Cup in FIFA history.

Despite the handsome economic data, the other side of the event is not satisfying. As the host country, South Africa has invested a total of 4.3 billion U.S. dollars, which equals 1.7 percent of the country's GDP, the highest in World Cup history. As a matter of fact, the actual cost is 10 times more than the budget South Africa made six years ago. For South Africa, the World Cup and its huge cost is sparking wide debate. If FIFA and some corporations have made money, what about the host country?

Public opinion is positive regarding the economic situation in South Africa after the World Cup, but even if FIFA paints a rosy picture of the country's economic future, the real situation is rather disappointing. There is still high unemployment and a sluggish economy. Local media in South Africa described FIFA's behavior as "a new period of football colonial rule and fraud," and the slogan "Blatter was the Mafia" also appeared in the World Cup in the strike parade.

The South Africa presented the world with a splendid football event, particularly the stadiums. The Green Point Stadium near Cape Town, which can host 60,000 viewers, cost some 580 million U.S. dollars. But it was not necessary to furnish funds for building the stadium. The new arena in Durban, which can host 70,000 spectators, cost 380 million U.S. dollars. All these luxury stadiums, dubbed as "foreigners' handbags," look nice.

What strikes the spectators is not the magnificent stadium, but the poverty in its surrounding areas. Water, power, housing, schools, traffic, drainage systems and everything else modern society needs can not be found outside the stadium. That's why the local media are indignant at the horrible costs of the "magnificent" stadiums.

According to statistics, a total of 456,000 foreign tourists came to South Africa in the first half of June, which is far less than the 1 million visitors the World Cup host had expected. In addition to the problems of transport and public security, South Africa needs to think about the operations of its 10 modern stadiums after the World Cup, which is one of the biggest problems the country is going to face.

Taking the Green Point Stadium as an example, the top-class stadium will definitely stay half-idle after the World Cup because only hundreds of spectators go to watch local soccer matches. Experts warned that the operation and maintenance cost of Green Point Stadium will be an enormous debt, with a deficit amounting to millions of rands annually.

Huge cost, uncertain gains and the economic difficulty the World Cup brings to South Africa can only be solved slowly.