OUR VIEWPOINT: Fifa-gate is a kick in the teeth

2015-05-29 13:42

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SOUTH Africa collectively held its breath as Fifa president Sepp Blatter, with opened envelope in hand, announced to the world that “the 2010 World Cup will be organised in South Africa”.

We bathed in the warm glow of the knowledge that we would host the first World Cup on African soil, and summoned all our patriotism as we got behind Bafana Bafana and cheered the team on.

However, the warmth has long since cooled, as South Africans realised that, as was widely predicted, the benefits of hosting the tournament have largely not materialised. Looming large, however, are the multibillion-rand stadiums built for the tournament, which have become multibillion-rand white elephants, costing ratepayers millions in annual upkeep costs.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, which boasts one such stadium, was forced to try and lure Pietermaritzburg’s soccer team to Port Elizabeth to try and get some use out of the facility, with a R36 million carrot dangled.

Now, to add insult to injury, we learn that we may not have won the bid to host the tournament fairly, and that a sum of $10 million (R121 million) might have persuaded certain votes in our favour. At the end of the tournament, for the duration of which the South African Constitution was effectively suspended while Fifa ruled the roost, the soccer governing body walked away with billions of dollars in profits while we are still looking for the sports and youth development programmes we were promised.

The allegations sully the names of those roped in to support South Africa’s bid, including those of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and F.W. de Klerk.

Whether they were directly involved or not, Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza, the top officials in charge of the bid process and subsequent organisation of the tournament, must take responsibility for the unfolding scandal. The debacle comes at an especially inconvenient time for Jordaan, who was on the cusp of being elected mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality yesterday, but perhaps comes at an especially convenient time for the eThekwini Municipality, which is considering hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Estimates of the cost to host the games range between R1,1 billion and R3,4 billion, a significant portion of which the provincial government will certainly pay.

Let the 2010 World Cup serve as a lesson

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