The World Cup has just ended. Congratulation to the Spanish team. I watched the final with friends. It was an intense battle between the highly gifted Spanish against the crafty and determined Dutch team. However, it was not a game of beautiful or free flowing exciting football as it was marred by the way the use robust tactics and the niggardly fouls that were mainly committed by the more physical Dutch players.
The 2010 World Cup is one world cup that I have more or less become disinterested. I hardly stayed up late to watch any of the games. There are a number of reasons for it. One is that I have become disillusioned with the game of soccer at the professional level. I am turned off by the very high degree of commercialisation where clubs and players treat the fans as cash cows. One player may be your idol at the moment, but he would almost certainly leave the club the next moment if better offers come from another rich club. Richer clubs will larger resources will just become stronger and stronger due to the ir deep pocket in offering players with highest salaries. I am also dismayed at the blatant ways in which players dive, i.e. use all sort of ways to fake or exaggerate their injuries or falls to have penalties or free kicks awarded or having their opponents cautioned or sacked by the referees. The decisions made by the referees are crucial in deciding the outcomes of the football matches. The referees have to decide on the spot what are acceptable body contacts and whether pushes or body checks constitute fouls. In many instances these are not clear cut. Also these incidences happen very fast and players frequently exaggerate their actions by ‘diving’. I feel that football has lost its way and it is no longer "the beautiful game" as described by Pele.
FIFA is a well organised and powerful world soccer governing body, controlled by the Europeans. It stands to reap billions of dollars from this World Cup. But is the game really benefitting the South Africans, where overwhelming majority are black who still live in the poor townships or ghettos with inadequate water, power or educational facilities. We did not get a glimpse oh how the majority of South African live, and instead treated on TV promoting South Africa as the ‘Rainbow’ nation of fantastic tourist destination and where Nelson Mandela lives. There is very little politicisation in the news coverage by Western media of South Africa, unlike the Beijing Olympics. Following article from People’s Daily covers an aspect of the World Cup that is hardly touched by the mainstream Western media:
South Africa faces mounting World Cup-related economic woes
July 9 2010
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.
By People’s Daily Online