July 7th, 2010
03:36 PM GMT
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Now is the time that people starting asking whether or not hosting an event like the World Cup was worth it.

With the benefit of hindsight, the columnists will make assessments on how successful the tournament has been. The economists will start calculating whether the country could afford it. The good citizens of South Africa will wonder what to do with themselves after years of planning and now weeks of hosting one of the world’s biggest sporting tournaments.

The feel-good factor is still around – South Africans haven’t felt this positive about each other and the country in a long time. As one commentator put it, "You would think someone had put Prozac in the water."

However, the warm, fuzzy love-fest will soon wear off. Or will it?

Cynical, tough people by nature, South Africans will soon start to ask hard questions of their national and local governments. How will the authorities make sure that the 10 World Cup stadiums don’t become empty, expensive, unused "white elephants?"

The main stadiums in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban will most likely be used for local sports and cultural events. However, there are many doubts about the long-term benefits of having huge international-size stadiums in small, regional towns like Rustenberg, Nelspruit or Port Elizabeth.

Will these stadiums slowly fall into disrepair? How will authorities manage to pay for these giant structures looming large in their communities as they try to tackle the pressing social problems of housing, education and unemployment?

Another obvious success of the World Cup has been the visible policing. Forty thousand extra police officers have been on the beat and a comprehensive security plan has kept locals and foreigners safe and secure.

The experience of being able to catch transport or walk in cities after dark and feel safe has been an epiphany for crime-weary South Africans. Statistics are not yet available but it appears that there has been a significant drop in crime in the past month.

So many are already asking – why can’t it be like that all the time? It seems with political will, South Africa can be a safe and peaceful place.

The big push will now be to ensure that the gains made for a month of football will endure long after the final whistle.

soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. J.C.Seixas

    For sure, it's going to happen almost exactly as it happened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after the 2007 Pan American Games. Some "white elephants" like the housing made for the athletes are still unused and people, who where supposed to occupy them, simply won't buy because they are not suited for living, unless they make expensive structural changes. During the competitions, safety for foreigners and locals was top priority. After the competitions ended, crime rates went back to the way it was before and even worse. Rio de Janeiro received a major "makeup" in public services, but again everything went back to the way it was before. So, it is most likely that South Africa will suffer the same consequences as Rio did. Third world countries share the same type of political figures, who almost praise for poverty to get elected, and only work hard when there is a spotlight on them.

    July 8, 2010 at 4:23 am |
  2. Krishna Desiraju

    Manufactured happiness is very expensive, and one pays in the long run!

    July 8, 2010 at 5:07 am |
  3. Proud South African

    The prophets of doom are at it again. They just have to pen something negative about S.A. The WC has gone in for 3 weeks without ANY Security Incident. Firstly, they said South Africa does not have the Infrastrature to host the FIFA WC. Then they claimed that the crime is too high...Now they are saying we wasted money on building these world class stadiums. When is this persimism going to end? Those stadiums were NOT built by donor money. The stadiums were built by South African Taxpayers's money..GET IT? What makes this so called journalist think that the stadiums at the regions will become white elephants. By the way we have our own national events (Believe it or not) and those stadiums will be used. We have athletics, Rugby, national soccer to name a few

    July 8, 2010 at 5:28 am |
  4. minority

    well done S.A and keep it up,we love u and u did your best for your country and also for the world and i believe that u guys are doing an awesome things to show the world that u guys are bold to take those challenge to bring africa to a greater height in the eyes of the world.
    "Say no to racism"

    July 8, 2010 at 5:55 am |
  5. SA boy

    Small regional towns? It takes over 40 minutes plus at speed limit to travel from one end of Port Elizabeth to the other. When the IPL was hosted in SA (out of SECURITY FEARS over India), PE was rated higher than some of the other larger cities for spirit and atmosphere. It has been so again for the World Cup. It is not NY but stop insulting my country with crap reporting such as the above. As proud South African wrote, this was done with our tax payer money. If the government deemed this more important than what you wanted them to do with our tax money, get over it – at least we are not pouring billions into pointless wars with ideological enimies. In our more respected papers, the income from the cup is rated to be quite close to expenditure. We did not build accomodation, just stadiums. We had those before, you know – we just added a few more. The value of this event in SA is to show the world how wrong they are about us. That has been proven. Some people just cannot get over that.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:04 am |
  6. Rainbow

    I agree that South Africans are cynical people as the article states. But they are also people that seem to seek constant reassurance that they deserve their place in the world, that they really do measure up, that SA really is 'different' to the rest o Africa in all the right ways and the 'same' as Africa in all the right ways. They should be commended for doing a great job in this WC, but they should focus their energy (cynicism?) on holding their politicians accountable for running the country properly and bringing lasting change and benefits to those who need them.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:20 am |
  7. kolobe(south african)

    the west media having a go at us again. what is it that you want from south africa?the english delivered the wembley stadium 2 years late and we delivered 10 on time but still cant get credit.the world cup for us was more of a marketing event than anything else. you didnt even see african children with files all over/gun totting kids..well thats the image institutions like cnn spread around.its unheard of here. maybe you should concentrate on eastern europe...the people there have flies on them. i hope africa forges stronger relationships with the east

    July 8, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  8. proudly african

    CNN at it again.
    Why is it that you people get the joy from negative news about Africa.
    Give credit where is due and suggestions on how to move forward not. And if you don't have anything better to say please keep quiet or mind your business (i.e. the BP Oil Spill, Your wasteful Spending in IRAQ and Afganistan etc...)

    July 8, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  9. Geo Mundaden

    Its really an great achievement for South Africa to have conducted the FIFA world cup. There is always cost to all / any achievements which may not repay immediately. What is the immediate return for all the billions/ trillions spend on these space voyages / advanced military weapons . Same way its only for the future if its utilised in way its maintained at a minimum standard which will be an asset for the future. Try start a Football league in a small way which might be a rival to EPL. South Africa Tried-- no doubt .. its an achievement for all the South Africans.... Good luck for the future ... South Africa

    July 8, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  10. Anco

    Sure, some of the structures will not be used as often as liked, but looking beyond that, my country is much better off because of this World Cup. Not just because of the improved police force or the wonderful new infrastructure, the upgraded airports and train stations and bridges, but most of all national pride. We pulled this World Cup off and we did it almost 100% perfectly. This is something to be proud of, all of us, rich or poor. We are better off because of this World Cup, it brought us together again. Yes, crime will increase again, but we proved to ourselves and the world that we can make a difference in this country and now we can continue building on that.

    I'm proud of my country, proud of my people, don't worry about us, we'll be fine...

    July 8, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  11. Nasser

    To be fair, the Rustenburg stadium is not a new stadium, its been up since 1999. It was renovated by the Royal Bafokeng tribe, with no expense to the SA tax payer.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  12. Judge

    Port Elizabeth is the 5th Largest City in South Africa and has more than 1.2 Million People living there. How can you classify them as a town? They are also classified as a Metropole. Please check your facts.

    July 8, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  13. Common Man

    Before providing all your comments, did anybody check that the column is written by Robyn Curnow who is a South African !!! I understand the feeling towards your own country and definitely the great work that South Africa has done/proven with the hosting but, I suppose Robyn had no intention to show less of any of the efforts and dedictation put in by the SA govt. or the people. The questions posted by her are very valid and legit and NOT emotional. It will definitely be a question for the Govt. and "you" as taxpayers to figure out what will it really take/cost to maintain/sustain the facilities built/provided for the WC. For surely ALL KUDOS to SA for hosting such a magnificent event !!

    July 8, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  14. Malcolm

    We created jobs, we taught new skills, we got the job done on time, we upgraded our infrastructure, we proved that we can do it. To adapt a phrase – YES WE COULD! But that is not the legacy – the legacy is the brilliant marketing – the overwhelmingly positive feedback and a renewed sense of national unity. You cannot put a price on that. As for crime – we all have problems. At least we are not facing a terrorist threat at the moment. South Africa is a fantastic place to be – and those who visited will agree!

    July 8, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  15. Thomas

    I find soccer cheap and pointless ,what's the point when you have referee's
    that can't even make a correct call? FIFI is a joke it's a socialist ruled game.

    They need instant-reply or stop playing this phony game all together,I'm not going to watch it anymore players fall on the ground not even get hit ,just to get a foul.This offside stuff is even more ridicules just cause the other team can't keep up they call it offsides get rid of it.Rule's are like running a socialist

    Country.........enough said

    July 8, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  16. phumy

    African are proud to be part of this history. we are all positive about our Africa. STOP PULLING US DOWN ITS ENOUGH NOW.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  17. Syeed Milky

    Well done South Africa. You have shown the world and the skeptics that you can do it. Regarding the newly built structures, those can be used for promoting regional sports programmes. Specially planning activities in the locations that might be used less likely at this moment. South Africa already has popular games like cricket and rugby also to play in these venues.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  18. m

    It has been a very expensive way to "create unity".

    End of the day south africans will still have to face each other.
    The "haves" (whites) have been very priviledged and benefitted over generations and the" have nots" (blacks,indian,chinese,coloureds)
    have been excluded also for generations.

    The new haves (usually blacks and indians) have benefitted very rapidly via various "deals" many of which are corrupt

    This corruption would increase much more rapidly....

    July 8, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  19. South African

    I am proud to call myself a South African. I am also not blind for what is going on in my country. We are glad that the WC came to us and that it is such a success, the only thing that worries me is as was said before, what is going to happen with the stadiums, yes it will be used for future events but I wonder if the crowds that will go to events there be enough to keep the stadiums in shape. When they have started building all these new stadiums and airport I asked myself is it really neccessary? Why didn't they just upgrade other stadiums and rugby fields. Why didn't they use that money and support the poor and welfare. Yes, many jobs have been created but will those people really still have jobs after this event.? I am just wondering.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  20. Hesham Shawish

    Wow...it seems that there's been some very bad reporting here..lots of angry S.Africans. This year's World Cup wasn't just a proud moment for South Africa, it was a proud moment for the WHOLE of Africa. It really was history and made me so emotional at times, to think of the unity and goodwill that has come out of it for the whole continent and when Mandela is still alive as well. The effects of the tournament will be felt for year's to come!! History is happening. Roll on Sunday's final!!

    July 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  21. African Queen

    Hear! Hear! As a Kenyan, I'm proud that South Africa put up a world class show for the whole world. Stadiums, transport, security, infrastructure, entertainment, food and everything else was beyond standard. The marketing will be a huge success for tourism and investors.
    God bless our Africa!!!!!

    July 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  22. Gillos

    On a global scale, annually how much is spent on defence worldwide – even where the threat of war is non-existant... i think the money (in this case) definately went to a worthy cause.. well done SA

    July 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  23. weebie

    I'm not South African but this article is written by a stupid clown. Just goes to show how much of a joke American Schools are now.

    Rustenburg was privately built and funded and Port Elizabeth is a huge city. Polokwane and Nelspruit are the only dodgy ones but still those venues were built cheaply.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  24. zc

    To: Thomas
    A few billions people could care less if are not watching this beautiful athletic game.
    You can continue sitting at ballpark, staffing yourself with beer, hotdogs and hamburgers watching corrupted and steroided lazy players with the belly slightly smaller than yours playing the game baseball.

    July 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  25. Richard Adlam

    Shakespeare said it well.....
    "better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all"....

    July 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  26. Lucke

    For sure! now millions o people around the globe know what South Africa is, what she has, where it is... This is commercially very interesting in the long term... Not just lions and elephants.

    July 8, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  27. Lala

    Thomas, nobody is forcing you to watch it. If you don't like it, don't watch! But millions of others DO enjoy it en do want to watch it, so why abolish it just because you're a sore loser?

    July 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  28. Jose

    Congratulations to South Africa for the magnificent World Cup tournament. Everything has been gone through seamlessly making this event one of the greatest in the sport history. As a Brazilian and being Brazil the next host, I hope we can follow the same path as South Africa’s and bring a memorable tournament to the world. For those who think exclusively on the negative side of everything and those whose put money first and above all, should also think that live is short. If we do not enjoy life what is the purpose of living? World Cup is enjoyment; let’s celebrate life while we have one…

    July 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  29. AZ

    This honestly has been the most exciting World Cup by far even with the bad officiating.... Great job SA....

    July 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  30. ZEL JAM

    They (the west) are so jealous cant stand the fact that the world cup is the GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH . Get a life

    July 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  31. Samuel Jumbo

    Yes, the World Cup is worth the troubles of hosting the continents, the euphoria of cheerful fans, jeers and cheers of soccer, the thrills and frills of seeing dream teams upsetted by newcomers would make you wish the games last forever. Samuel Jumbo, Nigeria.

    July 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  32. joel bame


    July 8, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  33. Viviane Menezes

    You can save this post for the future. As soon as the world cup finishes in Brazil in 2014 you can publish the same text, only by changing "Rustenberg, Nelspruit or Port Elizabeth" for "Manaus, Cuiabá, Natal and Brasilia."

    July 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  34. Mark d

    To all you S.A. people. I love your country and your people, don't let them reporters get to you!!

    July 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  35. South African

    A poorly written article, obviously written by a person with a negative disposition

    July 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  36. Arthur uzo

    What an arrogant anti-african comment. What SA does with the stadium is nobody business. This men of bad news had all there prediction wrong.., none of the can't be, will be, shouldn't be, must not, will not..happen during the WC. Now they are predicting another dooms after the WC. My answer to them is SHAME ON YOU ALL:

    July 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  37. rob

    Seems like a lot of S.A. read CNN.com, is that cause its a popular site in S.A. or because they left the glory land and moved to the U.S.A in search for oppression and low paychecks ? Either way seems like CNN business should open an African site and discuss other "news".

    July 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  38. Herk

    (South African) We are a young democracy and we need tourism. You give us a common "friend / customer" to concentrate on so we all- of- a- sudden realize we are a nation!! I am still speechless in the afterglow of merely participating in the Fanwalk in Cape Town. I have not seen cynicysm evaporate this quickly from staunch Afrikaners through any argument or other way. We embraced everything almost immediately, and it brought black and white closer. And you as our visitors deserve a lot of credit for acknowledging us in your hundreds of thousands and helping to make that epiphany come about – please come again!!

    July 8, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  39. Magnus

    I last came to South Africa 18 years ago. With all the bad press that I've seen on the country between then and now, I wasn't sure what to expect.

    Let it be known that I walked away extremely impressed. It wasn't just the fact that the facilities, infrastructure and organization was superb – or the fact that after two weeks roaming around the country I never once felt remotely unsafe.

    What really impressed me was that basically everyone I met was helpful, positive, informed, and focused on solutions rather than problems – in short, the sort of people I'd like to work with. As a businessman, I will certainly be looking for opportunities to do just that – and I will happily tell the world they should be doing the same.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  40. South African

    @ Magnus i like to say thank you, people like u can change the world not that stupid people who always find something to talk about blowing hot air

    July 9, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  41. South African at heart

    Well done, South Africa! You have done yourselves proud. Most importantly, you have shown that if Africa is given a chance, and has access to the same resources as the rest of the world, you can openly and evenly compete with the best. My hope is that this event will show that given a chance, and when treated as an equal partner with the rest of the world, Africa has the skills, talent, willpower and briliiance to shine.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  42. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Of course it's worth it at least in terms of tourism dollars that flowed into South Africa's economy from the over 1 million tourists that came to watch the World Cup.The troublesome part however is the structures you mentioned which will be under-utilized or fall into disuse after the tourney.Besides that,it would be nice,if the security arrangements put in place in anticipation of the tourney can be sustained and made a permanent feature of South Africa.

    July 10, 2010 at 12:52 am |
  43. Victor Hayibor

    SA SA SA...! South Africa has made the entire Africa contintent proud,as for the sustainability of the infrastructure in next 4 years they will once again host the CAF championship, all Africa games, Rugby championship, they have also improve local football league..the Olando pirate & co, the economic benefit will be enormous.... all what the officials have to do is to lobby for all International games... SA must be given the opportunity to host the Olypics games in 2022 they have what it takes to stage such international game. SA...! Africa pride

    July 12, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  44. Skari

    Yes the World cup in S.A. was worth it! Judging by the various comments above, written by people with diverse backgrounds talking about S.A on a positive note (for those who are), obviously, something good came out of this! Something that obviously might have taken years to accomplish without the WC. So, yes a step forward with a more positive perspective on S.A. definitly makes the WC in South Africa worth it..

    July 13, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  45. jabu ambrose D.R.Congo

    We as south african proved tom,dick and harry wrong, they ask for plan B and say we wont sucseed, we hosted a sucsessful WC, Now give credit where is due, Africans can do as the West do even better its proven with these event we didnt ask them for donation we did it on our own,eat a humble pie Mr Reporter the world is changing so must you,

    Thumbs up to the Local Organising Commitee& S.A Govt and the Public you made us proud !!

    July 14, 2010 at 7:27 am |
  46. Aj Ody

    There is really nothing wrong with this article, it asks valid questions, and most importantly questions that most people in this generation will not be asked to answer, but rather their children. South Africa is a fantastic country, has every reason to be immensely proud of what it has achieved in the World Cup and otherwise, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking sensible questions about the legacy that the World Cup will leave, including financially. This is the problem, many people still think that the minute you ask a question, you are judging. To be frank, judges do not ask many questions, they listen to the people in front of them ask questions, and then make a judgment. And the truth is, the people who are truly judging right now, I still just listening and remaining silent. So, in the meantime, there is nothing wrong with the rest of us asking rational and legitimate questions amongst ourselves – what will the legacy of the World Cup really be, for those who will judge us are yet to leave the cradle, they are yet to toddle and to walk as babies. Hopefully, as no doubt the person who wrote this article, they will believe SA did right, did well, and did the nation good. If not, then that will be for them to judge and not for us to defend before the judgment becomes a reality. May the debate continue, it is what democracy and fair comment is all about. Questions are not judgment, though judgment will surely come.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm |
  47. Daniel Nicholson

    As an American I still sit in Cape Town watching the bright yellow signs from the World Cup come down. Fans came and saw first hand the warm spirit that is South Africa. It was also a blessing for many of those less fortunate could never afford to travel the world. The world came to them. That is money well spent.

    July 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  48. Lara

    As with everything there are pros and cons. I am a South African and am tired of the blind who don't see what is wrong with South Africa. I am also tired of the negativity that surrounds those "Afro – pessimists" who have an arrogant attitude that "SA can do no right". There was in fact a lot of good that came from hosting the world cup. I encourage foreigners to visit our country and judge for themselves and if they can't, perhaps read about it to gain more information. You are most welcome to visit and South Africa welcomes you! Please don't make assumptions based upon opinions and not facts though.

    July 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  49. Lloyd

    South Africa, what a fantastic job you did in hosting this WC... Absolutely fantastic... I do think that people are being a bit tough on this opinion article. The general tone of the article, and indeed the general feeling around the world is that you have done a great service to yourselves and the continent. The reporter, however, is simply asking questions that any reasonable person would ask... Simple questions like, "can we afford to maintain these stadiums?", "will they be properly utilised," "what are the economic benefits that will come as a result of this event", are not anti-South African, they are simple common sense questions that are being asked by South African economists, politicians and citizenry. Dont be so defensive... It is a fact that hosting such events generally cost more than the economic returns, but being in the spot light is well worth it. You have proved that SA is a fantastic place, able to host such events and the spin off will be felt in years to come. I am really concerned about the jobs that were created for this event that may not be sustained in the near future... But all the best.. you deserve all the credit and praise... Hope other African countries can see what can be achieved with good governance, and foresight..

    July 19, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  50. ndundu

    As in every country, the SA government has to live up to the expectations of the people who elected it into governance. South Africa is vibrant and will not ultimately allow its government to lead the country into sloppiness. A low self esteem is one reason why countries perform only when watched. The better South Africa's self esteem, the more the chances that it will be its own best even when no one notices.

    July 20, 2010 at 8:17 am |
  51. Proud South African

    Perfectly legitimate questions .... some with answers already (no, the stadiums are likely to continue to be used and will not fall into disrepair because South Africans are crazy about their sport) and some that require some "wait-and-see" like whether crime will return to it's pandemic proportions. Hopefully not! In any event, an awesome WC that did the whole of Africa proud!

    July 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  52. Cockney76

    Even if the stadia go into disrepair, lets hope not, but if they do let the poor that got told to move in order of the building of the stadia to happen to move in to them. It happened in Athens for the Olympics so why not here in the future?

    August 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm |

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