5 Reasons Why South Africa is Not Ready for World Cup 2010

fwclogo.gifThe State of Disorganisation

There must have been from the onset a public relations hill to climb in the Fifa decision to award the 2010 soccer world cup tournament to an African country. Fair or not, Africa’s image abroad does not suggest the kind of economic muscle and logistical wherewithal necessary to stage an event of such international significance. This, however, is a prejudice, and does not take into account the fact that South Africa has a general transport and communications infrastructure that is by world standards impressive, and by African standards miraculous. However a recent report in the UK Guardian, suggesting that Fifa had put in place a £400 million slush fund against the high likelihood of a collapse of the 2010 World Cup, attracted just enough vitriolic denial from Fifa to suggest that it might be true.

British sports journalist Matt Scott, in an article in his Digger Column, reported that German insurance giant Munich Re was holding off on a decision to provide coverage for the event citing fears of inadequate progress, crime and insecurity, and an uncertain political climate. ‘The situation is quite difficult and fluid.’ Said a spokesman for Munich Re. ‘The problem is they need 10 stadiums and some of these are rugby grounds that are run down and in very bad condition.’

This, it would seem, is just the beginning, so how prepared is South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup?

Reason 1: Crime

Law enforcement still stands as the principal area where South Africa is stumbling in its preparations for the 2010 World Cup. This was evidenced in a recent news report chronicling diminishing tourist numbers in Cape Town. Cited was a popular city destination, Signal Hill, from the top of which are to be seen unparalleled views of the city and Table Bay, which has recently been the subject of a security overhaul. Nowadays a visitor can expect 24 hour security, with foot patrols, closed circuit TV cameras, motion detectors, panic buttons and increased lighting. This in what is effectively a inner city green zone. ‘South Africa,’ lamented City Councillor Simon Grindrod, ‘is on the cusp of the biggest tourism draw card in its history, the 2010 World Cup, [and] it sends the wrong signal when we pack up and leave an attraction simply because of the threat of crime.’




Recent xenophobic attacks in the main cities has not helped the impression of a society at war with itself. If the mass influx of foreign visitors into South Africa is not to descend into a crime feeding frenzy then the South African authorities are going to have give some serious thought, if they have not already, to the matter of overall security.

Reason 2: Corruption

Corruption, of course, is a close friend of crime, and like an iceberg it is a phenomenon that usually only reveals its tip. It was reported last month that the IT manager of the organising committee, Zakes Mnisi, was suspended pending investigation into ‘financial impropriety’. Bearing in mind the amounts of money circulating around this event, Zakes must be the unfortunate fall guy for many such improprieties going on under the surface. While the forensic investigations that exposed Mnisi’s activities continued in the direction of tenders he awarded, and how he secured a position on the Organising Committee after similar suspensions in the private sector, many high profile members and private contractors must be rushing to cover their tracks. The upside of this is that forensic investigations are underway at all, although how close to the source they will be allowed to get is open to question.

Reason 3: Stadia

There seems now to be less concern regarding the completion of new and refurbished stadia than has recently been the case. Six of the ten stadia will be new, including Nelson Mandela Bay, Soccer City in Johannesburg, Cape Town’s Green Point, Mbombela in Mpumulanga, Peter Mokaba in Polokwane and Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadia, with organisers currently predicting that all six will be completed according to plan, which includes the refurbishment of existing facilities. What remains uncertain is the completion of peripheral facilities necessary to support the matches, including the all important transport network. The first major test for the World Cup Stadia will the Confederation Cup of Southern Africa, a regional tournament to be held in South Africa between June 14 and 27 2009, when planning officials will at least have the opportunity for a dry run before the hordes of World Cup visitors descend on the nation.

Reason 4: Transport

Inner city and inter-city transport has since the onset been the main bugbear in planning the format for the tournament. Among the new infrastructure developments proposed for the sake of the event is the much touted Gautrain, a high speed, high volume link between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the Oliver Tambo International Airport which serves both cities. Currently, taking no account of unexpected problems, the schedule for the completion of the project is very tight. Construction is divided into two phases, the first scheduled for completion 45 months after the 28 September 2006 date of commencement, which would be June 2010, the very month that the start of the World Cup Tournament is proposed. The second phase due to take 54 months, and set to run concurrently, which means that quite clearly it will not be completed in time.

Associated with Gautrain is a high speed high volume bus service that also appears ridden with potential problems, with project delivery largely in the hands of local authorities with neither sufficient funds nor capacity, and nor with any particular interest in conceding this fact for fear of loosing contracts. The first phase is projected to run to 2010, which also leaves an extremely narrow margin of error. Associated freeway improvement projects are now competing with the need for social investment, and investment in the overstretched power utility Eskom which is manifestly buckling under the weight of vaulting economic development. With anguished muttering about environmental impact studies, and the unforgiving bedrock between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the deflection of criticism by the Johannesburg Development Association and the World Cup Organising Committees seems daily less valid.


Reason 5: Volume and Capacity

Current projections indicate that 289 000 overseas visitors, 48 000 African and some 115 000 local South Africans will flock to the various venues, watching on average four matches each. Even if the numbers prove to be lower than this, analysts predict a severe pressure cooker effect if any of the many tight deadlines begin to falter, as many indeed already have.

It seems ultimately that too many projects are chasing too little investment, with unexpected social and general infrastructure demands adding further complications. Future planning seems also to have been brought into question over the long term viability of a number of the state-of-the-art stadia that will stand as showcases to South African organisational prowess. These, it seems, will need subsidisation to be viable after the tournament, and will certainly erode many of the short term benefits expected to accrue from their construction. Unlike in the case of Japan and Korea, however, that jointly held the 2002 Cup, none are expected to be demolished after use, perhaps under the expectation that private capital may in some way rescue beleaguered and over-stretched municipalities.

With just over two years to go before kickoff, these are the stats. South Africa’s desire to lead Africa in matters of sport, economics, politics and human rights will be severely challenged in the months leading up to, and during the tournament itself, and although expectations are high that the traditionally high standards of organisation in South Africa will prevail, all remains to be seen.

7 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why South Africa is Not Ready for World Cup 2010

  • Ricardo

    As with many people I have also considered that the World Cup 2010 in South Africa should move to another country.

    BUT, (and I am not saying it should or shouldn’t – this is simply a perspective on the matter) consider the following:
    Here is a country that has been through its fare share of misery and pain over the years.A great many people are uneducated and unskilled (for whatever reasons quoted: “oppression in the past”, “failures of government”, whatever the reason – the fact remains).

    Here is a country that has had this “time-bomb” activated a long time ago. But only now has it exploded. (Actually, I think it hasn’t exploded yet!)

    And here is also, Africa’s ONLY hope!

    Europe’s lack of compassion for Africa (I refer to the G8 summit where it was very easy for only one vote to prevent financial aid from going to the continent) confirms that.

    There are two ways to look at this World Cup:
    1. Being callous and cruel and saying “take it from them and let them ‘solve their own problems’ ”
    2. Or, taking a different perspective and saying “OK, here is a nation (and people) in trouble. In need of help. Let’s finally get off our comfort-zone buttocks and HELP them!”

    Yes, there are the Mugabe’s of the world who don’t want “interference from the west”.

    But forget the Mugabe’s. Forget the alleged (or completely true!) “failures of government”, “the corruption”, and consider the people!

    Unless aid is given to the country (and not only financial). All of Africa will suffer.

    My definition of “aid” is “teaching a man to fish“.

    If anything is learned from these recent atrocities it is that Africa (and by that we mean South Africa) needs help – and perhaps a bit of “western” intervention.

    The World Cup is the ONLY “symbol” of a future for this country. If it is pulled from them. Whatever investments exist in the country will be pulled out. Whatever skilled people remain in the country will surely leave.

    And all of Africa will go to pot.

    Ricardo – A South African in Europe (now with a different viewpoint of home)

  • Andy

    It would be a huge shame is the world cup was taken away from South Africa and it would be a shame for Africa as a whole.

    African teams have brought a huge amount of skill and joy to previous tournaments and there is a lot of goodwill towards Africa because of this.

    I wonder whether the numbers quoted in the article are right. I think they’re on the low side. If Engl;and can send 40,000 people to Australia for the rugby then collectively i think the world will manage more than 289,000 attending.

    A badly managed World Cup will reinforce prejudices. But get it half-right and it will do Africa a power of good.

  • tebogo mahlala

    ofcourse the white guys will whine about crime

    crime has long being in this country (post 1994) but it was just against blacks. it was in a form of apartheid no white guy put a story about it on the internet.probably 0.0005% did say something.

    those who think crime is just too much for them could just leave.go to australia or the uk. remember when you get there you will not get a certain post(like you did in RSA) because you are white.you will probably need some minimum eduation as itsnt the case for white bosses in the private sector

  • Daniel

    I am trusting God for a sucessfull tournament this coming WorldCup in 2010 being hosted by South Africa.
    Despite their current situation lets keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.
    I also encourage all citizens of SA to be praying for towards this great event.
    Thanks and Remember christ in you the Hope of Glory.
    My Regards
    Daniel in Ghana.

  • cholola

    Let south africa host the world cup please. I am tired of negativity towards Africa it’s too much. I feel it’s racist. I just read an article abut SA crime in a British newspaper. There was a piture on the side of randome black people. This story disheartend me. It was made to look like any random black man was a criminal. This is sad. South Africa is very capable of curbing crime and hosting the world cup. It has an economy that can match any European nation together with it’s infrastructure. The people who hate SA must leave we are tired of them coplaining. Let them go. Ahh but yes they do not leave because they are in postions of power and enjoy the resources. We ARE human like any country we can host the world cup.

  • David

    In order to host the World Cup a country should fit one of two criteria, or both.

    1) It is very well capable of hosting the WC.
    2) It deserves the WC because of what it has contributed to football. (whether or not it is necessarily capable of hosting)

    South Africa fits neither of these categories. As for number 1, it’s nowhere close. In order to effectively host a WC, a country should have world class stadiums, abundant hotels in each city and an efficient transport system between host cities. South Africa does not even come close in any of the 3 capacities compared to other countries who could have hosted this event.

    As for number 2, South Africa simply does not deserve it. What have been South Africa’s significant contributions to football? It’s not like they are a world class footballing nation. Who is their greatest footballer ever… Quinton Fortune, Benny McCarthy? Please.

    Although a nation like Brazil has logistical problems for 2014, nobody can argue that they deserve it. They haven’t hosted since 1950, but no doubt no other country has done more for the sport in the past 60 years. South Africa, on the other hand, has done absolutely nothing for the game to deserve this.

    First WC in Africa… whatever, who cares. The Middle East has never hosted a WC, so is FIFA racist against Arabs as well? What about Australians? Or Pacific Islanders?

    Nothing against Africa or Africans, but it seems to me the ones who aren’t complaining are only South Africans and those who aren’t true football fans who only plan on watching the event on TV and not attending.

    Those of us attending have serious gripes. Who would want to sleep on the streets because of a lack of hotels? Who would want to pay cab drivers to drive between cities because there isn’t an efficient transportation network? In the end it isn’t about sightseeing, it’s about the football.

    Put yourselves in our shoes and see how you feel.

    FIFA has invested about $500 million in a contingency plan for another country to take South Africa’s place. I hope they use it.

  • Sampi

    How many of you guys managed to be around South Africa first of all ?

    Do you have your own picture about South Africa ?

    I am a South African, I had been around the world. Nothing much difference here compared to other countries.

    Check confedaration cup 2009 and you will be suprised.

    Are you not aware that this country had already hosted Rugby world cup back in 1995 ?

    Image the improvement since then until now ?

    We are more than capable, my honest weakest link is our transport system… but every things is more than enough.

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