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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The 2010 World Cup Legacy

The 2010 World Cup Legacy
The unmistakable sound of the vuvuzela ringing around World Cup stadiums will forever be remembered; but will the 2010 showpiece itself echo through time for South Africa?

This is a question that has continually cropped up since Spain brought the tournament’s curtain down with their glorious Soccer City triumph two years ago. And now as the Olympic Games beam across our television screens, thoughts are naturally transported back to when South Africa had its moment in the limelight.

On numerous fronts the question of a World Cup legacy is a pertinent one to ask, especially considering the amount of money that was spent to host the event. In all, an estimated R30 billion was pumped into the World Cup and questions of its fruits understandably become more valid at a time when many are struggling to escape the clutches of poverty.

Nevertheless, as is the case with all such complex topics, it is important that we be objective in our analyses and ways of thinking. It is also important to quickly add on that there are tangible and intangible benefits of the tournament which we as the next generation, and the keepers of the World Cup’s fruits, need to understand as we embark fully into this challenging 21st century.

In terms of a lasting legacy, the massive 13 billion transporta­tion infrastructure developments are obviously the most tangible examples of long-term benefits of the World Cup. From the high-speed Gautrain to improved roadways sprawling through Limpopo, the country now has at its disposal world-class transport links.

And there is little argument that they were needed.

As a developing country aspiring to be a leader not only in Africa but globally, South Africa desperately needed upgraded roads, airports and other transport links.

One stick, however, that has been used to beat these developments is their funding ‘came out of the blue’ and at the expense of other more pressing developmental needs such as providing water, electricity and housing to underdeveloped communities.

This, though, is not the case. Most World Cup-related projects were in fact already budgeted for in the government’s long-term infrastructure development plan and as such would have been delivered in any case, actually possibly at a much slower pace.

Therefore, the 13.4 billion government spent on World Cup-specific infrastructure seems almost insignifi­cant considering that it planned to spend up to 846 billion on its public infrastructure investment programme between 2010 and 2013 – including 16 billion on housing alone in 2010/2011. Furthermore, all of the pre-World Cup spending by national, provincial and local governments had been allocated as part of annual budgets since 2006.

So today, as a result of this World Cup driven development, Bloemfontein, like other host cities, has inherited much-improved infrastructure, including stadium upgrades and enhanced transport systems – improvements that had long been budgeted for and were sped up by the hosting of the 2010 World Cup.

There are other positive effects emanating both directly and indirectly from the World Cup which have perhaps not been publicised.

Tourism, for example, has continued to hold strong not just in Bloemfontein but the rest of South Africa as well. According to research by the UN World Tourism Organisation, the country recorded a 15% increase in tourists during 2010, outperforming the global average by 8%, with just over eight million (8 073 552) tourists visiting the country.

Continuing on this theme, the World Cup has undoubtedly created a better image of South Africa, thus cementing a foundation for sustained investment and growth in the tourism industry which accounts for a sizable chunk of the country’s income. Other intangibles such as reduced crime and improved social cohesion are effects of the tournament not always seen on front pages of newspapers.

This is a common theme; one of legacies people aren’t aware of – legacies that range from job creation to boosts to sport itself.

One such is the World Cup Legacy Trust account which came into being this April.

As part of the programme the world football governing body, Fifa, has transferred 450 million to the South African Football Association (Safa), money which will be administered by international auditors Ernst and Young.

This hefty sum is in addition to the 700 million Fifa allocated to Safa in the build-up to the World Cup – 450 million for preparation purposes and 150 million for the construction of Safa House. It is also in addition to 40 million given to Safa for football development projects and a further 70 million for investment in a fleet of buses and cars to enable the association’s 52 regional structures to transport their teams.

However, the 2010 Legacy Trust is not merely aimed at football and will support a wide range of public initiatives that harness football for sport development, education, health and various humanitarian and community development activities across South Africa.

Presidents collide... World Cup Legacy Trust
South Africa president Jacob Zuma (left) and Sepp Blatter
Since the end of the tournament two years ago much has also been written about the uncertain future of the ten World Cup stadiums, their cost and their potential to be money-sucking white elephants.

World Cup stadiums – Expenditure, in Rands
Upgrade cost
Construction cost
Projected annual maintenance cost
Green Point
4.4 billion
5 million
Ellis Park
240 million
2.4 million
Free State Stadium
314 million
3 million
Loftus Versfeld
131 million
1.2 million
Moses Mabhida
3.4 billion
1.5 million
Nelson Mandela Bay
1.7 billion
20 million
Peter Mokaba
1.3 billion
10 million
Soccer City
3.3 billion
15-18 million
World Cup Bid-Book total stadium cost estimate
818 million
Total cost of government expenditure on stadiums
16.445 billion
Source: Man of the Match

Looking solely at the numbers above one would perhaps be justified in baulking. It is in fact true that 2010 organisers have not got it completely right regarding the super-arenas. Nevertheless, the fact is the stadiums represent a key part of the 2010 legacy and leave South Africa with world-class multi-purpose sport and event facilities.

And one key point to put across is that it’s not just football that has benefitted.

Since the World Cup, acts from Coldplay to U2 have performed from Cape Town to Johannesburg while history was made in July 2010 when the Springboks hosted New Zealand’s All Blacks at Soccer City – the largest crowd (94 713) for a rugby match in South Africa. The Moses Mabhida Stadium, meanwhile, has been converted into a multi-purpose sporting facility – notably hosting a sell-out cricket match between South Africa and India last January in honour of Makhaya Ntini – and has also become a major tourist attraction in Durban thanks to its majestic arch and cable car.

Indeed, on closer inspection, the ten stadiums continue to confound critics with how much they continue to contribute.

The majestic Soccer City, now the FNB Stadium
Speaking to Fifa earlier this year Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 organising committee, said: “This is the first time in our history that there are purpose-built stadiums across the country and world-class homes for football.”

“Football is by far the most popular sport in South Africa, so certainly there is a demand for stadiums. The challenge for cities is to find creative ways to use the stadiums in conjunction with sports clubs, hosting events and allowing commercial activities. Many of these stadiums are already making use of these options and quite successfully,” said Jordaan.

One of these successes is set to be the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations to be held in the country next January – a chance for another boost in national morale, even if Bafana’s latest results haven’t suggested so.

But perhaps the most visible of all World Cup benefits is seen in the rise of the national football league.

From an infancy stage only 15 years ago, the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) has grown into one of the top leagues in the world. World Cup stadiums, hype and facilities have attracted spectacular sponsorship into the game and thus phenomenal growth.

In terms of television sponsorship revenue, the PSL is now placed seventh worldwide thanks to a bumper five-year 2 billion-plus deal with broadcasting giants SuperSport.

Stars are coming home. Last year it was Benni McCarthy, this year it is Siboniso Gaxa. Attendances are improving year on year. And in terms of product there is little argument that the PSL is the glamour league on the continent and a gateway to the big leagues of Europe.

Undoubtedly this explosion has been brought about by the World Cup, and if harnessed correctly there is no telling where football in South Africa could be in the next ten years.

And ultimately that is perhaps the crux of the argument – understanding. Understanding how blessed the country was to host an event as unique as the World Cup.

While the economic benefits of the tournament maybe not be clearly measurable for another few years at least, it is difficult to dismiss the feel-good fac­tor and improved integration across racial groups brought about by the World Cup.

Yes, divides and strain still exist in South Africa’s social fabric, poverty remains a headache but it is hard to knock the World Cup as a legacy.

A tournament to remember for Spain,
A legacy for Africa
One thing we can say though is the World Cup has illustrated the disconnection between those who govern and those governed. And like many other things, for the country to truly reap the rewards of the World Cup there not only has to be more accountability on the part of government and leaders, but also an interest and willingness to learn on the part of the community.

This is the continual challenge South Africa faces as it continues to grapple to with the massive goldmine of opportunity it sits on, not just stemming from the World Cup.

All in all, two years from its conclusion, it is difficult to dispute the positive impact of South Africa 2010. Considering the pre-tournament scare-mongering, the country emerged with flying colours. Fifa declared the 2010 World Cup its most successful edition with Fifa president Sepp Blatter awarding South Africa nine out of 10 for its hosting. The tournament has improved the countries standing worldwide and South Africa now boasts world-class facilities for generations to come.

The 2010 World Cup has set the foundation for bigger and better things, now it is up to the people of South Arica to build on it.

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