December 3rd, 2010
03:16 PM GMT
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Been there, done that.

That’s what some South Africans might be saying after watching the announcement of which countries will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup football events.

While many here might be slightly nostalgic about their World Cup memories, others will be utterly relieved that the whole experience is over.

Either way, the questions still remain about just how viable it is for a country to host the World Cup. This past week’s announcements have again made South Africans reflect on the financial implications of hosting one of the world’s largest tournaments.

Yes, it was a party. Yes, everyone was happy. Yes, the vuvuzela become a global institution.

But did you know, according to the South African government, that it cost $150 million to construct the Polokwane stadium – just one of the 10 stadiums across the country that were either rebuilt or newly built.

Now, unsurprising to many, months after the World Cup, that stadium and others in South Africa are largely unused and saddled with costly maintenance budgets. Two million dollars a year is spent by the local authorities to upkeep the grass and the structure at Polokwane, says a staff member of the World Cup “legacy” programs.

The Limpopo province, where the stadium is located, is one of the poorest areas of South Africa. The education system is crumbling and the employment rate is worryingly high.

It is a question I have asked over and over again: Was the World Cup worth it?

Most South Africans will say yes, even though there was no tangible benefit for them. That month of football was a happy, sweet time for South Africans – a whopping, expensive party that was well worth the hangover.

So, my questions: Do you think Russia and Qatar “deserve” the World Cup? Can they beat the spectacle South Africa put on? Will you be going to Brazil, Russia or Qatar to watch the football in the years ahead? Is all the hoopla really worth it?

December 3rd, 2010
08:39 AM GMT
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December 3rd, 2010
04:08 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Alarm bells rang in Hong Kong's gold industry this week when it was discovered that several well-known jewelry stores were duped into buying fake gold.

Scammers always lurk about the precious metal, but these criminals seemed to go the extra mile. Normally, a jeweler will inspect scrap gold by literally scraping the gold and heating it. If the gold changes color, that's a red flag that it’s faux.

In this scam, the fake gold was a mixture of about 50% real gold bullion and 50% different alloys like copper, iron and rhodium.  When jewelers heated the fake gold to test its authenticity, the color did not change.

"It may not be high-tech, but it is sophisticated, for sure," Haywood Cheung, President of the Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society, told me. Cheung added he does not know how the scammers were able to manipulate the alloys to keep its gold appearance under heat.

The fake gold nuggets and gold scraps looked real because it was coated with pure gold, Cheung said. Jewelers did not discover the fraud until the metal was melted down and irregularities appeared.

Cheung estimates jewelers lost about HK $2- 3 million (US$260,000-$387,000) because of the scam. As a result, local jewelers will take more skeptical look at gold brought in for resale. One extra measure could be cutting the metal in half for inspection, Cheung said – a process sellers typically don’t like.

How can consumers be sure gold objects they buy are real? Cheung says jewelers have identified the fake gold before sale, so jewelers do not risk their reputation by claiming the faux gold is real.   "(The situation) affects the industry more than it affects the public for the moment. It does not affect the public because … the jewelers, the goldsmiths, will absorb the cost of the fake gold."

The demand for gold in China has been voracious. China imported four times more gold so far this year than last year.

Gold is traditionally a safe haven for investors and demand soars when there's uncertainty in global markets. Gold prices keep hitting record highs and hovered over $1400/ounce for the first time in early November.

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