By Sisonke Mlamla
For football fans across South Africa, the words “world cup” conjures images of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the dazzle of skill and flair.
No one doubts football can be a route to achieving goals big and small. But fast forward to now; it’s been four years since South Africa’s played host to the prestigious tournament. And we have to ask what have South Africans gained?
The hosting of 2010 showpiece was promised by the South Africa government to its people that social and economic benefits would accrue.
A reflection of post world cup period and considering billions of rands spent on staging this global event, questions about the longterm benefits of the tournament have been posed.
Contrary to the massive expectations, the ongoing problems that still persist in our society after hosting the world cup have propelled some to question whether it was worth it.
Undoubtedly, South Africa hosting the FIFA 2010 world cup, which was a first for the African continent, excited all Africans, particular the poor who never dreamt of staging such a competition.
How funny times move. The world cup has come and gone, but the question still stands what legacy has it brought to us?
Four years, and yes, we could argue that South Africa benefited from the multi-billion rand investment in Infrastructure development brought by the event.
We could even say that the country has transformed in significant ways. For example, Eskom spent R84-billion, mostly on energy generation, transmission and distribution, and in the post-world cup phase, this has had an lasting impact.
Transnet spent R47-billion, with R40-billion of this went to harbours, ports, railways and a petroleum pipeline; and without a doubt this has improved the transport system in the country especially in host cities such as Durban and Cape Town.
The Gautrain was completed, the Rea Vaya bus transport and the state of roads were improved because of the World Cup.
Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) spent R5.2-billion on airport improvement and the Dube Trade Port, while R19.7-billion went to water infrastructure and this has improved its operation systems.
Massive infusion of cash and capital inflows into South Africa was good in that it increased Gross Domestic Product and Tax revenue. Also there were gains in foreign direct investment and also a boost in tourism.
Many companies benefited and employment at micro level increased in tourism, catering etc. The policing system in the country benefited a lot and crime rates in South Africa has dropped significantly.
The revamped roads and street lights, new parks and clean streets are all obvious benefits from the World Cup. But the challenge post world cup is how to maintain them.
However, despite the obvious benefits visible, South Africa as a nation continues to battle with problems such as poor housing, prostitution, HIV pandemic. Many feel that a chunk of the 2O10 world cup proceeds would have been used better if it was channelled towards catering for basic needs and serving the poor.
From revenue generated FIFA was the winner in terms of pocketing more than the SA government.
Scenes like what happened on the 3rd of June; the eviction of people from the Lwandle informal settlement in Strand, Cape Town (www.iol.co.za are some of the unintended consequences of the world cup.
The billions spent on world cup that could have been used to help these people; the homeless and poor.
On the 4th of June 2014 five people, including three children, died in Johannesburg shack fire at the informal settlement of Vlakfontein
What legacy can we claim after the world cup? Is it the Marikana crisis? Bucket system? iNkandla?
Is it looting of foreign shops?
Despite all the controversy, no one can argue against the fact FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa did reinforce social unity in a country marked by deep racial division.
Grassroots soccer has benefited from the proceeds of FIFA funding. ABSA premiership teams have also benefited from the state-of-the-art stadiums and training facilities.
Our level of football has dropped though.
One thing that hasn’t happened is world cup inspired improvement of our national team.