McDonald’s and Budweiser: FIFA leaves a rotten legacy

Billions of dollars were invested into this year’s World Cup, yet South Africa will see a minimal return compared to FIFA.

More tickets were set aside for Americans and Europeans than Africans, and weeks before South Africa’s first game, 3m tickets had been sold, but only 10,000 to the host nation’s people.

Thousands gathered in Soweto fan park to watch the World Cup's big games. Photo Frederic Jon

FIFA reduced ticket prices to $20 for South Africans, hoping that more would be sold. However these tickets were only available on the internet. But Internet usage is still low in Africa, and many don’t trust it enough to buy things.

Food and drink in the stadiums was restricted to that sold by FIFA’s partners, with Budweiser being the only beer, and McDonald’s the only food. No local produce was present, despite the South African government spending over $4billion on the tournament.

The South African Football Association is expected to get $100m from the World Cup, a blessing for them, but a figure dwarfed by the $3billion made by FIFA.

Infrastructure projects, such as upgrading the country’s motorways, airports, and public transport, that were already planned by the South African government were fast-tracked due to the World Cup bid being successful in 2004. While welcome in a country with a previously-poor transport system, only a small, rich part of the population will benefit.

Around 150,000 jobs were created during the World Cup, but most were temporary and few will stay employed, the majority in the stadiums used for the tournament. South Africa has a population of 49m and a current unemployment rate of 25%, or 12.2m people. It is highly unlikely that poor people in areas such as Cape Town and Johannesburg will see a difference in their quality of life.

World Cup 2010 produced the most colourful, exuberant, and emotive spectacle world football has ever seen. Yet the host nation should have been able to reap more financial rewards than FIFA and its wealthy partners.

One conclusion is for sure though, the memory of a remarkable World Cup can never be taken away from the people who supported Bafana Bafana.

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