Johannesburg – Revelations that two South Africans allegedly bribed Fifa with $10m for the country to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup may have tarnished the country’s image, economist Mike Schussler said on Thursday.
“The scandal has taken some of the shine off. If we’re seen as a country prepared to bribe to get things done, it might make one or two potential investors a bit more squeamish, weary.”
He said the World Cup did “to an extent” create positive publicity for the country and attract tourists.
“Some houses cost more than R100m,” SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry economist Richard Downing remarked.
He said paying $10m (about R100m in 2010) to host the World Cup might not have been a bad thing in itself. The question was whether it was done ethically.
“For the marketing exercise and the scale of the World Cup, it was good to promote South Africa. But it’s a question of the ethics of the matter. We’ve spent a lot of money in the past on unsuccessful bids.”
The government said in a report in November 2012 that it spent $3bn on hosting the 2010 soccer tournament. Of this, $1.1bn was to build and upgrade stadiums, $1.3bn to improve road, rail, and air links, and $392m was spent on ports of entry.
According to the government’s report, the World Cup had left an intangible legacy of pride and unity among South Africans and changed the country's image as undeveloped, crime-ridden and dangerous.