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?

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. nahummer

    Well, if they're trying to beat them in the corruption department, Fifa's specialty, they've got a long way to go. But I believe in the power of oil and gas money – just like the Fifa voters.

    December 3, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  2. Michael

    Is the hoopla worth it? You are kidding right, of course it is worth it. I have been to two WC Italia 90 and Germany 2006 and the German experience was way better than the Italian as the competition grows so does the flavour and enjoyment. I think Russia, if the mafia keep their hands in their pockets will be a successful tournament and a good place for the influx of fans to travel round and visit, in turn their experience will be passed on to friends who will choose to then holiday there. Now Qatar is a different kettle of fish, what a poor choice for the first Middle Eastern WC to be held in. This choice will see a dramatic fall in number of fans from around the globe and in turn a downturn in the spectacle. It was interesting to note that the Qatari speaker only chose to address and thank Sepp Blatter on stage and did not seize the opportunity to welcome the world to his shores. Confirmation if it was needed that FIFA is rotten to the core as 2022 will not see the game played in a festival fashion and may as well be played behind closed doors, just how FIFA like it eh??

    December 4, 2010 at 1:41 am |
  3. Jamal

    I am glad Morocco woke up and finally realized that hosting the WC was a losing business prop. I think it is a bad idea for any country that cannot tie it to tangible economic results.. like the article says, it is a great party with one bad hangover, a hangover that takes a long time to get rid of I might add. I think it makes sense for Qatar (plenty of money) as a country that not too many know about (sort of like a big ad campaign), Russia?! not so sure, seems to me that they have have plenty of work left to do before they can party. As of the hangover I am not worried about the Russians, they got plenty of experience there, with or w/o alcohol

    December 7, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  4. Mohammed F

    I can't speak for Russia, but i can tell you the Qatar bid will be out of the world GUARNTEED. The Asian game was a huge success, and this country walks the talk. You should see their previous developments, they managed to finish ahead of their time with incredible standards. Money, leadership and passion will make this world cup a new benchmark. I personally can't wait.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  5. Andrey

    The hoopla that have been made around the World's Football tournament 2018 is really extremely great, we all have seen that. But there is also the other side. Lets just imagine: Russia won the competition, was it necessary for it? Absolutely, yes. Russia needs this tournament, people wait for miracle, for bringing new breath in football infrastructure, for money pouring from busyness, for paying much attention to football Russia from the world.
    Of course, we all can say: is it correct for russian goverment towards the society to invest a lot of money into the football structure, but not into the economics and manufacturing. Maybe, but who knows, would this money get the final recipients? We don't know! So, better to spend them on World Football Tournament 2018.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  6. Francois van Peer

    Was the hoopla worth it – too right it was. It cost us a fortune – quite right – but as you say it was the best party you can had to be here. But, most importantly, according to recent report, South Africa was in the top 10 search words across all search engines this year – as Mastercard says – priceless. What other country can claim to beat Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears as a search topic? And not only that, according to today's South African newspapers, tourists spent just over $500 million. According to FIFA independent surveys of 3000 tourists who attended the SWC over 85 % said they would return to the country and a whopping 97% said they would recommend it as a destination to friends & family. How much would that publicity cost in $........priceless. As tourism is our 2nd largest industry and for every tourist visiting, 10 jobs are created – well priceless, once again. The difference between South Africa, Russia and Qatar – we don't have oil & gas to buy the votes – so at least we know we won the bid on the basis of the fact that we were the best candidates – and boy – did we prove it. Good Luck Brazil, Russia and Qatar – we set quite a high benchmark for you guys – you are going to need it......

    December 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  7. SA soccer fan

    Of course it is worth it. SA got a face lift, transport, tourism industry and infrastructure were drastically improved amongst other things. And that is besides the new stadiums and the upgrade of the older ones. How would you know whether South Africans are benefiting directly or not, Robyn? Do you live in SA? Do you experience the day to day living here? I actually can't wait to see what drivel these 1st world fat cat journalists are going to write about Qatar and Russia's ability to host the WC. Probably the same nonsense that was and is still written about SA. I'm sure if the tables were turned and the US got to to be one of the host nations, your article would've read much differently....

    December 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  8. Mpho

    South Africa had to take world cup and re-sell SA to the world. What ever happens going forward let's give other countries a chance. How many times had Europe hosted the world cup? Come on. Viva Mzantsi viva the land of the vuvuzela.

    December 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  9. Mad Mike

    In terms of pure economics and dollars and cents, no the World Cup is not worth it at all; but in terms of national pride and emotions, hosting the World Cup is priceless. Its just like hosting the Olympics. There is very little economic benefit in the long run for these countries, but for that month, they are the center of the sporting world. I have doubts for Russia and Qatar, but far less than I did for South Africa. If SA could it (which they proved), Russia and Qatar could do it too.

    December 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  10. Tim

    The choices for the 2018 and 2022 WC are a joke. There is no reason why the people of any country should have to dish out the kind of cash that it takes to build new stadiums and the infrastructure that comes with it, when there are countries willing to put on the games with everything needed to take care of the people and players. The only thing South Africa got from hosting the WC was a pile of plastic noise makers that practically ruined the show for the rest of the world. Australia, USA, England and Spain/ Portugal all would have been the wiser and better choice as a host country. I hope that the people who are FIFA enjoy what they've lined their pockets with. Completely and utterly disgraceful!

    December 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  11. proudly south african

    can the usa, and the uk please stop thinking that they are the world and that others cant host or do anything, accept them, mzanzi hosted a perfect world cup, with the uk, & usa, constantly reporting that south africa wasnt ready, please cant these two arrogant countries, stop thinking that they are the alpha & omega, & that they are the best in everything, no wonder china are kicking their but these days, viva russia, viva qatar, long live fifa

    December 8, 2010 at 4:38 am |
  12. Mike

    The 2010 world Cup was definitely worth it.... the only downside would be the lack of usage of the stadiums. local authorities just need to more innovative and use the venues for more uses than just football

    December 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Andrie langa

    SA show all the best ever! blowing vuvuzelas in stadiums made wc unique adrenaline ever in all footbol machies ever played,puting Mzanzi in Genneses book of records.

    December 8, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  14. Mark

    RSA enjoyed the festivities and the prestige of hosting the World Cup,but it it galls me that we had to allow Blatter,an utterly corrupt beurocrat(his nephew,phillipe blatter, is in a partnership with 2 mexicans with sole rights to distribute World Cup tickets...coincidence?)to rip us off.We are left with beautiful stadiums which cannot pay for themselves.Most South Africans live in tin shacks and we are actually debating wether or not to blow up these multi million $ stadiums.Financially we made a loss and Blatter made millions!
    It is criminal to award the hosting of the World Cup to any nation which cannot afford it.

    December 9, 2010 at 4:40 am |
  15. Mark C, UK

    For Russia & Qatar to beat SA's world cup won't be too challenging.

    Look beyond the emotional aspects of post apartheid SA and this was one of the worst world cup tournaments in recent history – the quality of football was well below expectations, there were too many empty stadiums and high crime blighted attendees. I'm sure I'm not the only one who was unimpressed and left feeling quite empty with the experience.

    Fifa will be very much at home in Russia and their Swiss bank accounts of Sepp et al will no doubt be bulging long before the final ball is kicked.

    Qatar was an interesting choice and more deserving than the USA bid. The quality of other sports tournaments, such as tennis & golf, clearly demonstrates the ME has the finanical backing to ensure things will go well. Crime will be lower than other WC tournaments (imagine the crime problems that will happen 2014!). However, I expect that post 2022 the stadiums will be under utilised and slowly fade to obscurity.

    December 9, 2010 at 5:51 am |
  16. Senzo

    The hosting of World Cup comes with a lot of benefits particulalry to developing countries. In South Africa for instance. Public Transport in some major cities have improved tremendously. Road networks and rail networks have improved. Infrastructure in public places have also improved.
    Besides that, South Africa is a soccer loving nation with constant soccer schedules. So, the majority of stadia are used as we speak.

    I think human beings must learn to give other people a chance. This epidemic of thinking that other countries are better than others must be dismissed with contempt. In as much as Russia and Qatar will not have the same World Cup as in South Africa, but surely there will be something unique about their World Cup.

    Senzo Nkala....South Africa

    December 9, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  17. Soccer fan

    England and US are just sore losers...

    December 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  18. cassyricky

    It should be pretty obvious by now that FIFA are in the business of making money for FIFA and that soccer is just a vehicle for oiling that corrupt machine. FIFA wants money – not to promote or expand the interests of soccer or any other hype they may try to sell. If they were really interested in the game of football or soccer they would have intervened in the debacle that saw France qualify over Ireland in the last world cup. If they hade the best interests of soccer at heart they would have introduced a TV referee by now. The fact that they haven't – in spite of massive support for such an introduction raises questions. – The same sort of questions that were raised during the Korean WC which again was a debacle with blatant referee bias – clearly a "bought" referee with the Italian and Portuguese games.

    December 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  19. Mark K Torokwa

    We wait and see but Russia and Qatar could import the Vuvus for spice up their events!! Its a great "Footie" export.

    December 12, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  20. Pleb

    It was a wonderful tournament but since then south africa has gone back to teh sorry state it was in before then
    I'm sure that Russia will put on an even better spectacle

    December 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  21. nopongo

    USA and England sore losers? l beg to differ, while Qatar and Russia can deserve to host the tournament for whatever reason. it remains to be explained how the electors changed the basis for choosing hosts. until such a time as the basis for selection is clear, trust me we will always suspect corruption. and that kills the game, slowly but almost certainly...

    December 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  22. Soccer fan

    Yeah, sore losers....that's what I said. That is my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Period.

    December 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  23. R.mugabe fan

    Australia, US and UK BIG losers too, how come you people think others can't host the World cu successfully. nobody know what in store for Qatar and Russia. Congratulation to South Africa, Excellent Job.

    December 18, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
  24. Sipho

    The guy who wrote this nonsense report , is currently not clued up as to what is happening in South Africa after the 2010 Fifa Worldcup, particularly in Stadium usage, as we speak only one stadium built during the worldcup has not hosted local competitive football game, that is, Nelson Mandela Bay stadium, this is simply because there is no Premier League football club coming from Eeastern Cape, having said that the Pieter Mokaba stadium that he's referring to is used by the biggest club in the country as the alternate home venue, so really now , I do not know where he gets the stories that these venues are not in use. I'm sorry to say this but .....suck it up dude and leave South Africans alone!

    December 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  25. Jomo

    What a crazy article! Off course its worth it. Obviously u know nothing about SA. Spare us your ignorance and get over loosing the bid my friend. There is nothing stopping Russia and Qatar to gives us a super world cup. Get over it my friend, you wont see any world cup in your life time.

    December 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  26. Dave

    South Africa is a country revelling in its new found freedom and unity and it was the best reward we could have as a nation received. It was like we all just said yes sure we are different but we all want this to be the best world cup ever – then came the game against Ghana – I have never in my life seen a nation change flags and colours so fast –within minutes of us realising it was the last African chance we had white, black, you name it had changed their colours and we were all African’s behind Ghana – even to today as I drive down the street I still see Ghanaian flags hanging from South African’s windows a stark reminder of the day Uruguay stole an African dream.

    After what I experienced in South Africa as a South African over the world cup I just cannot imagine it to be beaten. I was chatting to a couple of mates the other day, all of different economic backgrounds, and when someone mentioned the World Cup everyone just smiled in nostalgia – then one guy with a lump in his throat said it was the best 4 weeks of my life!

    South Africa hosted the cup hoping to show the world what a fantastic progressive nation we actually are. Where as with these 2 countries (both very oppressive societies compared) can only hope to use these games to open their eyes to what oppressive states they are. Free men and woman, of all races and sexual preferences will travel to these courtiers for these 2 cups and I can only hope that the world can teach them what freedom really is. They may have money and great facilities but as the Olympics in China proved – you just can’t buy ‘spirit’ – I believe that only comes with freedom. Bring on 2012!

    December 28, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  27. Grant

    @Mark C, UK

    The quality of England's football can hardly be the host country's fault.

    Apart from Port Elizabeth (a tiny city far from anywhere else) and a few games between obscure countries, the games were all sold out. If I remember correctly, the overall attendance was the best ever.

    And what on earth did you mean by "high crime blighted attendees"? Only a few petty crimes were reported throughout the tournament – less than reported in Germany (Europe) in 2006!

    Open your mind a bit wider, buddy.

    December 29, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  28. wale

    It's definitely worth it to host wc. the experience last a lifetime, and each one is unique. I've been going every 4yrs since france 98. i think fifa should make it a requirement for the hosting country to have a developed professional league in order to host so all those beautiful stadiums won't go to waste. Thank you south africa for making africa proud. I wished i never paid attention to all the scary report leading to the game, which made me cut my trip short. I met some wonderful people and can't wait to vist the country again. my only concern for Quatar is the extreme weather. i understand the stadiums will have indoor AC, but you will need to leave the stadium at some point. God help us. Long live Football. Brazil here we come.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
  29. Benny Steyn

    Hopefully the infrastructual development in the transport sector in Gauteng will be a big bonus for hosting the World Cup but the main advantage will be in the tourism sector for siome years to come. All in all I think it was great for Africa to have had the exposure to the World.

    December 31, 2010 at 6:01 am |
  30. happydays

    I can't imagine that USA and Great Britain who constantly criticise other nations about human rights abuses and about giving everybody a chance refuse to lose graciously.Because USA and UK did not win means others won through corruption.I think FIFA ideology of giving NEW LANDS a chance is FAIR.The world cup has never been played in EASTERN EUROPE and RUSSIA is the EASTERN EUROPEAN GIANT.As for the MIDDLE EAST it's GREAT ,let's give the ARAB WORLD a CHANCE ALSO.PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH PLEASE.

    January 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  31. Kevin

    Its a shame if South Africa doe not benefit financially from the World Cup. Too many people suffering in SA for it to have not benefited from another bad strategic move on the Governments part.

    January 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  32. Tshepiso

    buddy, what a useless write up of an article. Still not sure what your point is exactly. To me you sound a soar looser than anyone making an attempt to form an opinion and get people talking. Have you been following soccer events in this country since the world cup events? There are not facts in your write up so in essence you've share a whole big zero with us. What a waste of our time. Southies don't have to be on a defense about what you've just shared, wanna know why? 'cos the world was here and eyes have seen.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  33. Stefan Vesely

    South african World cup was awesome... i was here i have stayed and i am proud of my home nation... we rocked it! Everyone got something out not all financial but seriously, the spirit of unity is worth more than money. but we made money, lots of it, the stadiums are awesome we have used them a lot since, even setting the world book of records for the most people waving flags... South africans are a bunch of crazy people, crazy for life, crazy for friends, crazy to let everyone know... WE ARE ONE!

    January 27, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  34. Young Steve Biko

    I'm disappointed by the writer of this article, then again it shows the low level of his thinking about Africa, guese what as Africans we do not need to prove anything to the likes of you we know we can achieve anything, we are rich intelectually and otherwise.for your information all the stadium which were either rebuild or build from stratch are fully utilised, do not write fiction rather come to South Africa and observe for your self, and be a witness of what is South Africa is after the world cup you will be totally amased my brother from another mother, so you are excused from you ignorance. By the way i wish Madiba a fast recivery from hospital.

    January 28, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  35. J. Harrison

    I can't believe the tune of this articial and the meaness of some of the comments(usa and uk) about SA's World Cup. I am an American and spent a little under three weeks in the most BEAUTIFUL country on this planet. The People, Food, Culture and of course the Football was an experience of a life time. My point; I will return to SA and visit other countries in Africa because of this WC and I will be in Brazil and if God sees fit I'll have my 77(I'll be that age in 2022) year old self in Qatar.

    Perhaps the writer of this articial should revisit SA now and enjoy what he missed during the WC and get over the usa and uk losing the 2nd round.

    One more thing, when the entire World got behind Ghana, I fell in love with the BEAUTIFUL GAME all over again. Oh, if a player interfers with a apparent goal, that goal should be awarded PERIOD.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  36. Cely

    Well the media may have claimed that it was both tllnhicacey and commercially the best bid but how would they know? Did they read all the others from page one to page n? Were they privy to the financials? Would they be qualified to evaluate competing proposals? Of course not.As you suggested, those who prepared the bid obvioulsy failed to identify both the real issues and the real decision-makers and, as a result, subsequently failed to address the preferences and prejudices involved in the selection process. Without establishing such things at the outset they were doomed to failure. Total waste of time, effort, rations, etc.Bidding is a lot more complicated than just informing someone about something and hoping that you stand a chance.

    June 21, 2012 at 11:51 am |

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