Friday, June 18, 2010

The World Cup is on!

Rightfully does South Africa and the world celebrate this soccer fest. The mood in the country, despite Bafana's defeat against Uruguay, is exhilarating. I can't remember any time since 2002 that people were so friendly, even more than usual, and all the daily strain seems so distant.

This is perhaps what makes this African and South African World Cup: the excitement across the country. There may be glitches with ticket sales, rather a problem of FIFA's greed, and transport, but the happiness factor that comes with soccer is quite unique.

The question remains: is it worthwhile for a developing country to spend obsence sums of money on a soccer fest that benefits Western capitalists and the mafia that is FIFA? It is clearly a problem that we don't know the salaries of the FIFA head honchos and that an organisation with such global importance has not accountability and is a law unto themselves. See the Insititute for Security Studies report at

Can we tally up the expenses for the World Cup with what we could have built in houses, job creation, and other programmes? Or can we say that the gain in happiness for a few weeks across the country was worthwhile the money spent?

I think the answer is yes and no. Remember that South Africa's development problem is not lack of funds - it is the lack of coherence and organisation in delivery, in creating and executing policies that advance the country. Perhaps then, the expenditure is justified and the gain in goodwill and happiness will create a better country which will be able to do things better.

Yet, the FIFA money fest has contributed to more corruption and unjustifiable expenditures. As a mafia organisation, besides the soccer fun, we cannot expect good practice to come from such an organisation. Also, instead of getting light headed through games, should we not focus on what needs to be done to improve the country? Rolling-up the sleeves, not partying should be the order of the day. And then, the World Cup money could have been spent on improving governance and towards sustainable livelihoods.

Perhaps we can say that if we could be assured that the World Cup was a clean business, we would be more understandable of the expenses. Also, if more would go towards supporting poor communities than just celebrating the rich, the fiesta that world soccer is, would gain much.

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