FIFA, South Africa 2010 and white elephants

If you have some time, please go and read Player and Referee, Conflicting Interests and the 2010 FIFA World Cup (TM), a monograph from the pan-African Institute for Security Studies, on the conflicts of interest surrounding the organization of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa at the expense of local socio-economic development. Two quotes:

At the ceremony in May 2004 announcing that the 2010 World Cup would be held in South Africa, FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter gushed to a crowd including Nelson Mandela that ‘the victor is football, the victor is Africa’. Had he wished to be accurate, however, Blatter would have lauded the real victor as FIFA and its cozy network of business associates, who have together sucked the marrow out of recent World Cups with far more success than the host countries. The South African event perpetuates this trend. At the forefront of the queue of FIFA’s business associates is a shadowy company called Match Event Services, which has been appointed as FIFA’s exclusive official accommodation provider to the World Cup. While the company officially warns accommodation providers to keep room rates low because tourists are ‘sensitive to pricing’, an investigation by the author has confirmed that tourists will have to pay Match 1000 per cent more than they would normally pay for accommodation in certain cases, such as for units at South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

The staggering cost, in other words, of the decision to ‘buy’ Cape Town one to three extra matches was R2,83 billion (Green Point minus Athlone) or R3,37 billion (Green Point minus Newlands). This is the price of 56 642 or 67 390 low-cost houses at R50 000 each: homes for a quarter of a million people and more.