South Africa: The myths and realities of the FIFA soccer World Cup

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

June 15, 2010 -- Offering an unapologetic public critique of the FIFA Soccer World Cup at the height of the collective frenzy of positive expectation, feel-good nationalism and general public excitement that now exists in our country is a risky thing to do. But it is a risk that needs to be taken precisely because, no matter what the context, myths always need to be separated from realities. In the case of the "greatest show on Earth", leaving aside the very real beauty and enjoyment of the game of soccer, the myth-making has created a situation akin to inhaling tik -– a short-lived high/euphoria that obscures all reality, followed by a rapid, depressing "come down" back to that reality.

The starting point for the mythology that has been built up around the World Cup is the misplaced assumption that mega-events (in this case a sporting one) are vehicles for economic, social and political development that will benefit everyone. Most of the things that our government and FIFA (not to mention the bevy of commentators and journalists) have been telling/selling us about the benefits of the World Cup, since the time when South Africa first bid for hosting rights, are grounded within that assumption.

Amongst such benefits are: the promotion of economic growth; the stimulation of urban re-development; the intensification of job creation and infrastructural development; the spreading of confidence and prosperity; the engendering of "nation-building"; and, yes, enhanced peace and security for both country and continent. If only, like children lapping up a fairy tale, we believe all of this then the ultimate promise will be fulfilled -- a permanent "developmental legacy".

So let's take a quick look at the realities that would (hopefully) bring us back to earth and remind us what has really been going on when it comes to the 2010 FIFA soccer World Cup.

  • The overwhelming majority of the economic benefits that have accrued from this sporting mega-event have gone to an elite grouping of private entities, while most spending has come from the public purse. Private South African construction companies have made billions and are laughing all the way to the bank. WHBO has increased its profit before tax by 142%, Murray and Roberts by 99% and Group Five by 79%. Meanwhile, the thousands of casually employed construction workers on the various stadia (now mostly out of jobs) never received more than R3000 per month. As for FIFA and its local organising committee sidekick, they stand to make massive profits that are now, according to FIFA itself, estimated to be in the region of R20-R25 billion, the most ever for any World Cup. No prizes then for guessing who's pocketing the booty and who's paying the bill.
  • The costs of the 2010 World cup stadia and related infrastructure, borne by the South African taxpayer, have increased from an initial amount of R2.3 billion in 2004 to a whopping R17.4 billion presently, representing a 757% increase. It is no secret that most of the newly built stadia will struggle to remain commercially viable after the World Cup is over –- a "white elephant" legacy in this regard seems all but guaranteed. Add to this the fact that much of the transport infrastructure linked to the World Cup, such as the Gautrain and various urban highways (mostly in Gauteng), will either be beyond the means of ordinary South Africans or partially privatised through the looming introduction of toll fees and it is also not difficult to see who is, and is not, going to benefit on this front.
  • While the initial bid document estimated that more than 500,000 annual jobs would be created through, and as a result of, the World Cup, South Africa has actually lost more than 1 million jobs in the past two years. In turn, this has helped produce a vastly increased current account deficit for South Africa, not because (as claimed) billions have been spent on basic services and infrastructure for the poor (and don't forget the massive hikes in various service charges for ordinary citizens), but mainly because of massive imports for construction of World Cup stadia, the Gautrain and the continued outflow of domestically generated profit/capital. Add a "debt legacy" to the outcome equation.
  • The much touted, "trickle down benefits" to both ordinary South Africans (as well as the region/continent) have simply not materialised. Besides the massive let-down for small businesses in the accommodation/tourism sector as a result of hugely inflated predictions of foreign visitors, informal traders will largely lose out due to FIFA declared restricted/controlled zones around all the key World Cup sites. Additionally, the enforced "cleaning up" of urban areas has mainly targeted the homeless and poor, something which is in direct contradiction to the promise of more inclusive urban planning, housing provision and living space. This criminalising and crowding out of the urban poor has only served to reinforce and exacerbate the divided racial and spatial landscape of South Africa.
  • Meanwhile, FIFA alongside its hand-picked local and foreign corporate World Cup "sponsors" are poised to make a killing, protected as they are from any meaningful competition through government guarantees, monopoly concessions and manipulated "intellectual property rights".
Those who would blow the whistle and/or publicly demonstrate their dissatisfaction are threatened with law suits, effective bans on gatherings and being labelled as "unpatriotic" spoilers or anti-social troublemakers. So much for celebrating "diversity" and democratic accountability.

The bottom line, regardless of the wonderful soccer that will no doubt be seen on the field and enjoyed by most, is that the 2010 FIFA World Cup represents the conquest of South Africa by an elite-led, capitalist branding/image making exercise. In the World Cup business model, elite and corporate interests are conveniently conflated with the "common" and "national" interest.

As Chris Webb has so cogently pointed out: “In South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy to global capitalism, image is key in pursuing the now dominant economic rationalisations of neoliberalism … (it) perfectly serves the ruling African National Congress’s redistribution through growth policy (and) effectively opens the economic and political spaces necessary to (further) pursue neoliberal policies and development."

The grand spectacle that we are witnessing is not a metaphor of the historical triumph over adversity, of South Africa’s (or Africa's) "renaissance" or of a positive "developmental legacy". It is rather a hugely costly and ultimately ephemeral exercise in myth-making. Reality is a different story.

[Dale McKinley is an independent writer, lecturer and researcher, and an activist within the Anti-Privatisation Forum.]


(Photos/videos to follow at


Thousands protest against World Cup spending


Jun 16 2010 11:59

Thousands of South Africans staged a march on Wednesday to protest against lavish spending on the tournament and the sacking of security staff, inflicting a new embarrassment on organisers.

As the country marked the 34th anniversary of the Soweto uprising against apartheid rule, about 3000 people marched in Durban to denounce Fifa and the government for their spending priorities when millions live in poverty.

"Get out Fifa mafia!" chanted the crowds in a Durban park, their ranks swelled by stewards who were involved in clashes with riot police on Monday after protests over their wages.

Monday's protests triggered walkouts by other stewards, which have led South Africa's police to take control at the World Cup stadiums in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban.

Ever since it was awarded the staging rights, South Africa's government has faced accusations it should not be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on stadiums when about 40% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

"If we have money for stadiums, we should not have any homeless people or people having to live in shacks," organiser Allan Murphy said ahead of the protest.

Much of the marchers' ire was directed towards Fifa, which has made record amounts of money from the first World Cup to be held in Africa.

Football's governing body has insisted that the dispute over stewards' wages is not its responsibility, having sub-contracted the work.

Widespread anger

But there is widespread anger among South Africans towards Fifa, whose demands for a smooth-running tournament has seen the government pour R33-billion ($4,3-billion) into World Cup preparations.

"The government has taken the ratepayers' money and handed it over to Fifa," said Desmond D'sa, one of the protest organisers.

The walkouts by the stewards, a wildcat strike by bus drivers and ranks of empty seats have combined to take the gloss off a largely triumphant opening to the tournament last week.



DATE: 16 June 2010

TO: KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, Durban Mayor Obed Mlaba, Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo and Durban City Manager Michael Sutcliffe

RE: Grievances about World Cup 2010 management

We are the citizenry of Durban. Our organisations have long registered grievances about the way the city is being run. In recent months, we have found that many of our problems are worsening, especially because of the way the World Cup has been implemented by FIFA, its corporate partners, politicians and bureaucrats.

While in principle we do not oppose Durban hosting seven World Cup games, we are very opposed to many decisions made by FIFA and city, provincial and national officials. The problems we record below require urgent attention and immediate remedial action.

Economic Burden

• Whereas Durban’s 70 000-seater Moses Mabhida Stadium cost taxpayers R3.1 billion; the cost escalation for Mabhida rose from an initial R1.8 billion; and redirecting most of this spending could have erased the majority of the vast backlogs Durban faces, of housing, water/sanitation, electricity, clinics, schools and roads;

• Mabhida’s next-door neighbour is Absa Stadium, home of Sharks rugby, which seats 52 000 and which could easily have been extended

(considering that Durban municipality will knock out 15 000 seats from Mabhida after July);

• the companies and individuals that have profited most from Mabhida’s construction include multinational corporations and those responsible for notorious municipal disasters, such as bus privatiser Remant Alton and Point development failure Dolphin Whispers, along with at least one fake Black Economic Empowerment front company;

• the import bill for Mabhida appears unreasonable, as reflected in breakdowns of Mabhida’s Sky Car due to imported German cables held up for repair by the Icelandic volcano, and in imported German tents erected next to Mabhida by an imported German marquee construction crew;

• the soaring foreign and domestic debt we are now suffering because of World Cup expenses will cause untold problems for the SA economy in years to come; FIFA is not subject to South African taxes; FIFA is also allowed to ignore SA exchange control regulations; and the FIFA profit estimate is more than R25 billion;

Corruption and State Failure

•    whereas this kind of extreme waste and crony capitalism typifies the relationship of FIFA to host governments; bribery and corruption have been associated with FIFA’s operations (as documented in lawsuits in Zug and New York); bribes have been predicted (by England’s former World Cup bid manager) that would distort play by some of the leading teams coming to South Africa; and corruption whistle-blowing in Mpumalanga Province led to several suspicious deaths, reportedly by organised hit squads;

•    Durban’s own recent corruption in the construction of low-cost housing by Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport became a national scandal; Durban housing official Nigel Gumede and City Manager Mike Sutcliffe rejected the findings of the National Home Builders’ Registration Council report which shows extensive wrongdoing – one third of houses in Umlazi requiring reconstruction - in a R300 million contract begun in December 2006; politically-connected Zikhulise owners Shauwn and S’bu Mpisane have a notoriously luxurious lifestyle with a car fleet worth a reported R100 million;

•    Durban’s Council and ward committee system has become a form of top-down political control; Council does not take our voices upwards; the democratic gains that were won in 1994 are also our victories, but have been taken from us;

•    the September 2009 attack on the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) movement, its leaders and well known members, their family members and its offices in the Kennedy Road settlement apparently received the backing of the local ruling party and government structures; many AbM members cannot go back to Kennedy Road; and several of the Kennedy Road 13 are being imprisoned interminably without bail or being charged;

•    the Durban council has made clear its intent to demolish the Early Morning Market at Warwick Junction in favour of a shopping mall; the Early Morning Market is one of the surviving monuments of the indentured Indian labourers; and hundreds of jobs – as well as affordable edibles – for poor people are at stake;

•    Durban fisherfolk have witnessed rich people fishing off expensive boats and yachts unhindered while working-class subsistence fishermen suffer police harassment and arrests; fishermen have recently been denied access to New Pier, the South Pier, the Bluff military base and the quayside shore (Gunter Gulley, Yacht Mole, Lucky Dip); and there is worsening sea-water pollution – rubbish, oil and chemicals in the harbour – and apparently no environmental precautions being taken;

•    Durban’s hundreds of thousands of immigrants are under sustained attack; the May 2008 xenophobic attacks demonstrated a failed municipal state which by August washed its hands of ongoing xenophobia crisis and by November used police brutality to displace desperate refugees; Lesotho migrant workers are protesting the revocation of the ‘six month’ system of border concessions; there remain inadequate support systems and preventative measures against another xenophobia attack; and immigrants continue to face oppression in their dealings with the South African government and police;

Workers, the Poor and Communities under Attack

•    whereas this country is rich because of the theft of our land and because of our work in the farms, mines, factories, kitchens and laundries of the rich; and that wealth is therefore also our wealth;

•    the working class and poor of Durban are under severe pressure because of the world and SA economic crises, which have not yet lifted for us, costing the country more than a million lost jobs and leaving Durban badly exposed in sectors like shipping, clothing and textiles; poor and working people are being pushed out of any meaningful access to citizenship; recent government statistics prove the urban poor are becoming poorer; and we are being forced off land and out of our cities;

•    too many of us who have formal water and electricity connections have not been able to afford the fast-rising costs of these services and face disconnection; the promise of housing has been downgraded to forced removal to a transit camp more like prisons than homes; housing that has been built exists in human dumping grounds far outside of the cities and far from work, schools, clinics and libraries; and there is a new, heavy-handed, privatised municipal debt collection strategy that is wrecking state-community relationships;

•    poor flat dwellers have suffered from unaffordable and exploitative rents; and the poor have been forced to sign exploitative rental agreements under duress and threat of eviction;

•    farm dwellers have suffered the impoundment of cattle, demolition of homes, denial of the right to bury loved ones, denial of basic service and brutality (and sometimes murder) at the hands of some farmers; and a biased justice system which has systematically undermined farm dwellers;

•    outsourcing of casualised labour has become a full-fledged crisis, as witnessed in the revolt by Stallion Security workers who were exploited at Moses Mabhida and four other stadiums to the extent of protesting in the face of police stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets; crises caused by Durban’s labour brokers include the ports – partly responsible for a recent three-week strike by transport workers – and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where underpaid workers (less than R1000 take-home pay for UKZN cleaners) are suffering;

World Cup’s Pro-Rich Bias

•    whereas while the rich have benefited from the World Cup, the poor have not; the Zakumi doll mascot and other memorabilia were made in China not South Africa; Durban’s informal street traders have been displaced and barred from selling in the vicinity of stadiums; and Durban fisherfolk have been evicted from the city’s main North Beach and South Beach piers;

•    township soccer facilities were meant to be created and maintained with state subsidies but have not been; and street kids were brutally displaced from central Durban in advance of the World Cup; according to former chief executive  of the South African Premier Soccer League Trevor Phillips; “Durban has two football teams which attract crowds of only a few thousand. It would have been more sensible to have built smaller stadiums nearer the football-loving heartlands and used the surplus funds to have constructed training facilities in the townships”;

•    FIFA’s tourist initiatives are based on what it calls ‘luxurious ambiance’ not working-class hospitality; promises of 450 000 international visitors for the World Cup were high overestimates; and many jobs in the tourism sector were shed when the overestimates became apparent;

Public Transport

•    whereas many in Durban continue to be dependent upon private automobiles (with resulting adverse impacts on climate change); there has been a sharp decline in Durban’s public transport compared to other South African cities which have begun investing in the Bus Rapid Transit system; a government web-site ( promised benefits for the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer including “a fast, comfortable and low cost urban transport system … for central business districts but also in townships”;

•    Durban officials have implemented air-conditioned “People Mover” buses with security guards at every stop, running every 15 minutes from 06h00 until 23h00, but only in the city centre and along the beachfront, mostly for the benefit of tourists; there is still terribly inadequate public transport in both the townships and suburbs, and many areas are currently unserviced, and others have with an infrequent and unreliable service with no bus timetables available;


•    whereas the ‘greenwashing’ of the World Cup includes incorrect claims by Durban officials that the CO2 permanently emitted in the vast cement construction plus increased air travel can be ‘offset’ by planting trees (which themselves are only a temporary, fragile container of CO2 because they emit the same carbon when they die and biodegrade); officials brag about ‘carbon credits’ from burning methane from rubbish dumps in a World Bank Clean Development Mechanism project (even though such ‘emissions trading’ is a dangerous distraction from fighting climate change), and the poorest people of Durban will suffer the most from climate change;

•    there is no sense in constructing new coal-fired plants (such as Medupi) and nuclear generators so as to give further electricity subsidies to vast multinational corporations such as BHP Billiton (which receives the world’s cheapest power); 100% renewable energy is a pre-requisite to avert global climate disruptions; the refusal to phase out coal, oil and gas also causes military conflicts, magnifying social and environmental injustice; and governments; corporations such as BP continue to support and finance fossil fuel exploration, extraction and activities that worsen global warming such as forest degradation and destruction on a massive scale, while dedicating only token sums to renewable energy, and leaving areas like South Durban with some of the world’s worst air pollution due to oil refining;

•    global climate disruptions – extreme weather events, droughts, floods, increased disease, scarce water - are already disproportionately felt by small island states, coastal peoples, indigenous peoples, local communities, fisherfolk, women, youth, poor people, elderly and marginalised communities;

Our Rights of Expression

•    whereas according to the bid proposal and subsequent contracts with the South African government, FIFA was given full indemnity “against all proceedings, claims and related costs (including professional adviser fees) which may be incurred or suffered by or threatened by others;” and in addition, “Police officers and other peace officials will be provided to enforce the protection of the marketing rights, broadcast rights, marks and other intellectual property rights of FIFA an its commercial partners” – as witnessed in the ridiculous arrest of Dutch women whose only crime was to wear an orange dress to Soccer City for the Holland-Denmark game;

•    our own leading journalists are stifled from reporting on FIFA’s wrongdoing because of a required pledge not to throw the organisation into ‘disrepute’ as a prerequisite for accreditation, as witnessed by the refusal of the national broadcaster to show the documentary film Fahrenheit 2010 made partly in Durban;

•    the murder of three young men in Phoenix earlier this month is yet more evidence of local police brutality, as was the excessive force – stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets - used to subdue non-violent Stallion Security workers protesting at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday, June 14;

We therefore demand

• adequate compensation to Durban ratepayers and national taxpayers for the windfall profits made by construction of unnecessary stadiums such as Moses Mabhida, investigations into extreme cost escalations, and a renewed commitment for a fiscal boost to remove South Africa’s vast backlogs of housing, water/sanitation, electricity, clinics, schools and roads;

• immediate imposition of taxation and exchange controls on multinational and local corporations associated with the World Cup, on grounds that contracts entered into with FIFA are legally Odious;

•    investigations into bribery and corruption associated with FIFA contracts and World Cup construction in Durban and especially in Mpumalanga Province, and full criminal investigations into Durban’s own recent corruption scandals;

•    a thorough overhaul of Durban’s Council and ward committee system so as to introduce genuine democracy and popular participation;

•    a commission of inquiry into events associated with the jailing of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Kennedy Road 13, their unconditional release, and the right-of-return of AbM to Kennedy Road;

•    the end of municipal harassment of traders, especially in the Early Morning Market at Warwick Junction, and subsidies that would permit it to become an historic monument, having just marked the market’s centenary;

•    the end of municipal harassment of Durban fisherfolk, the imposition of more reasonable fishing license fees, and a recommitment to cleaning the harbour and beaches of pollution of all sorts;

•    a renewed commitment to combating the scourge of xenophobia;

•    a redistribution of the society’s income and wealth so that South Africa is no longer the world’s most unequal major economy, an end to the municipal debt collection strategy and other systems that worsen inequality, and increases in free basic water and electricity allotments financed through a luxury consumption tax on those who use too much;

•    an end to exploitative rental and housing arrangements, to oppression of rural people and to injustice against farm dwellers;

•    a ban on labour broking, as has long been promised by the ruling party;

•    a dramatic increase in township soccer and sports facilities;

•    follow-through on the promise of “a fast, comfortable and low cost urban transport system … for central business districts but also in townships” and an expansion of “People Mover” buses across metro eThekwini;

•    an end to new coal-fired plants and nuclear generators so as to save the environment from certain destruction, stringent monitoring of air and water quality and public access to the findings, strict law enforcement against polluters and littering, a commitment to proper maintenance of all Durban’s green areas in a cohesive, sensitive, responsible and inclusive manner for the benefit of the environment and the people of Durban not just the city elite, dedication to the eradication and control of alien species with a view to permanent job creation, and strict enforcement of city bylaws by Metro Police to prevent urban decay, slum development and the resultant health hazards and environmental degradation;

•    a retraction of indemnity to FIFA and end to the order prohibiting journalists from throwing FIFA into ‘disrepute’ as a prerequisite for accreditation;

•    an end to police brutality, proper policing of all neighbourhoods, and redirection of policing resources spent on FIFA to all citizens;

•    an end to the arrogant, authoritarian, exclusive, insensitive, parochial decision-making processes undertaken by the Ethekwini Municipality throughout all areas of its jurisdiction.

When considering the speed and lavishness with which services were delivered for the 2010 World Cup, we have no doubt the above demands can be met timeously and professionally.

Super-exploitation -- feel it, it is here!
We expose how imperialism are the main beneficiaries of the 2010 Fifa World cup.

July 2, 2010 -- The capitalist media have run a 6 year campaign, sweeping up the middle class and the working class with it about the supposed benefits of the Fifa 2010 soccer world cup in South Africa. The efforts the imperialists have put into promoting the world cup is much like they do when they sweep up the nationalist sentiments in a population to support fascism. Cosatu leaders served on the cup organizing committee, providing the perfect cover for the imperialists to plunder the country in broad daylight. Despite many thousands of workers putting themselves into debt to buy tickets (partly as a result of the support by the Cosatu leaders of the cup), the capitalists still could not fill the stadiums. The SACP and their fraction in the leadership of Cosatu were pushing for ‘labour peace’ during the world cup but they were defeated by the workers on strike in the municipal and dock and rail sectors. The SACP leaders were not completely defeated; these leaders still managed to postpone/call off the general strike action against the electricity hikes (the massive attack on the working class of a 34% increase in tariff has come into effect on 1 July despite a scheduled meeting of the capitalists, government and worker leaders on 14th June 2010 to ‘negotiate’ over it).

The first point that we can learn from the world cup is that in general, if the capitalist wants to sell something, they will paint it in rosy colours, exaggerating its qualities, until they have your money in hand; afterwards, when negative sentiment arises, the capitalists will even make money out of this. Thus the national soccer team was painted in advance as potential ‘world beaters’; some soccer players were even compared to Einstein. The very capitalists who could not be bothered how workers get home from work and that millions of workers spend hours getting to and from work on a public transport system that woefully inadequate, suddenly became the ‘champions’ of public transport, creating a special transport system (with the help of their lackeys, the SA government) of buses every 5 minutes and trains running up to 2am in the mornings, so that the capitalists could efficiently rake in the billions of profits from the cup. The national flag was promoted as a symbol of ‘unity of the nation’. We will show here that the national flag really represents capitalist imperialist interests and that there is a fundamental divide in society between the working class, the majority, and the handful of capitalists.

Counting the costs

A conservative estimate of the costs is about R100 billion. We arrive at this estimate through the following: The Gautrain project is now estimated to cost R35 Billion (after having started as a R5 billion project). The 5 new stadiums cost about R3 billion each, a total of R15Bn. The 5 refurbished stadiums together cost a further R5 bn. The national and provincial road budget was R17bn in 2004-5; if we estimate that a ‘real’ increase would have doubled it over the period to 2010 this brings us to R34 bn for 2009-2010; but the actual budget was R49 bn, a R15 bn extra for the last year; a conservative estimate on road and transport for this past 6 year period, due to the ‘world cup’ is thus a further R20 bn. The upgrading of the airports cost a further R6bn. A further R15bn must be added if we consider the building of a new terminal at OR Tambo airport and the new airport in Durban. If we add the cost of the new hotels and flats, many of which are still vacant, that were built under the guise of the influx of ‘tourists’ in 2010, as well as the mostly empty ‘rapid’ transport bus network, the construction of ‘fan parks’, the upgrading of several training facilities for the teams (largely unused), the upgrading of medical facilities close to stadiums (such as the R50 million medical unit built at Somerset hospital), the new buses for each of the 32 teams, we can see that the overall cost is pushed up well over R100 bn.

The Athlone stadium was upgraded at a cost of R400 million and used only once, for one day, during the world cup.

While most of the public hospitals have run out of essential medication for TB, heart illness, diabetes, etc, the new 2010 medical units for the soccer millionaires, lie largely unused and full stocked. It takes months to get an appointment for an operation but all operations set for the days of world cup matches, were postponed at facilities deemed by the Fifa gangsters to be made exclusively available for the soccer prima donas.

Millions of bafana bafana T-shirts, vuvuzelas and SA flags, made in the US imperialist slave camps in China, were sold to the masses at 10 times the real price. Not only did the masses sacrifice to pay for the high cost of the tickets but once inside the stadiums and fan parks, they were forced to pay 3 times the cost of the usual high price for food.

Considering the real cost of a housing unit ( and not the over-inflated prices) of R40 000, it would have been possible to build an extra 2.5 million housing units; thus it would have been possible to have wiped out the problem of homelessness within 6 years; it was a conscious choice to keep the masses in a state of desperation and homelessness to maintain a climate in which speculatively high prices can be charged for housing and which the banks are the main beneficiaries (through their control of land, the construction companies and through the high rate of interest they charge on loans). The major shareholders of all banks locally are the handful of parasites who control the imperialist banks, mainly in Wall street, London, Paris and Berlin. This points to who the major beneficiaries were of the 2010 world cup.

The figures above exclude the over R20 bn that Fifa gains from their sponsors, the over R2 bn from the ticket sales, hospitality and licencing rights and the billions that are raked in by the parasitic betting syndicates. It also excludes billions on extra expenses on extending the police force as well as the greater militarization of the repressive apparatus, spent under the guise of the world cup but in reality preparing an iron fist to smash the growing working class discontent.

Imperialism was the biggest winner of the world cup

Long before the final whistle is blown, the real winners of the world cup, the imperialists, are laughing all the way to the bank. While soon, some ‘soccer genuis’ will hold up high a piece of gold and be made to think that they are the champions of the world, the imperialists will be patting themselves on the back for another plunder, well executed, and will be planning for their next venture (the Olympics?).

The imperialist construction companies (Murray & Roberts, WBHO, Grinaker-LTA, Group Five, BAM-Netherlands based, Bouygues- French based) were the main instruments for taking billions in profits from the working class. We examine only one but the underlying principle is the same for them all.

The main culprit among the gangsters was Murray & Roberts (which the Workers World News of ILRIG mistakenly calls ‘South African’). The main shareholders of Murray & Roberts are the wall street banks such as JP Morgan Chase, State street, SSB, etc. Even Liberty Life, which is itself imperialist controlled, is also a shareholder of Murray & Roberts. Murray & Roberts had a big share of the contracts for building stadiums, the Gautrain and other capitalist infrastructure. In 2008, Murray & Roberts has contracts of R30 bn and boasted an order book of R100bn. The publicly declared profits of Murray & Roberts for 2009 was overR2 bn (the real profits are much more; eg the fact that the Gautrain increased from R5 bn to R35 bn shows that there was massive profiteering by the capitalists). Using 2007 as a base line, the increase in dividends paid out by them increased by 69% and 88% for 2008 and 2009 respectively, and this in the period of so-called world recession. Thus even on the public level the order of the profits from one of the imperialist construction companies was billions (not millions as ILRIG understates). Meanwhile, just in the past year, over a million jobs were lost and there has been a huge nett job loss over the past 6 years. Even the capitalist ANC government admitted that many of these job losses were not even justified by capitalist standards; the ‘champions of the working class’ the Cosatu leaders merely shed crocodile tears while refusing to organise a united resistance against the capitalist onslaught.

The imperialists are already making propaganda about so-called xenophobic attacks after the world cup; what they are really signalling is that they know that they have only diverted the attention of the masses for a short while from their sufferings and that the masses will soon take the path of mass resistance, as shown in Greece and Kyrgyzstan; the imperialists are preparing fascist gangs to divide the working class and whipping up nationalist sentiment against our fellow black slaves from the rest of Africa, as the imperialists had instigated in 2008 when the Zimbabwean masses were on the point of a revolutionary overthrow of imperialist lackey Mugabe.

The major beneficiaries of the 2010 world cup are the imperialist banks. The ANC-SACP-Cosatu leadership, by their role in promoting the world cup, are nothing but the lackeys and agents of imperialism. The working class needs to break with the bourgeoisie; this means breaking with the alliance with the pro-imperialist ANC and SACP and the building of a revolutionary working class party as part of a revolutionary International; for us this is the refounding of the Fourth International.

Super-exploitation- feel it, it is here!

Revolution- feel it, it is coming!


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Terry Bell, Business Report

16 July 2010

The World Cup party is over, although a warm, post-party glow still persists in many quarters. Understandably, since there was something of a fairy tale quality to the whole exercise, especially considering the preponderance of doom and gloom that surrounded the build-up to the event against its eventual success.

This was an almost textbook case of gloomy prophecy - emanating from the evil media denizens of the North - leading to the heroic triumph of the previously belittled South. And it was an army of the humble: construction workers, stewards, security personnel and other workers who played the major role in turning the tables.

It is at this stage in the traditional fairy tale that the standard ending applies: "And they all lived happily ever after." However, this is the real world and not some over-the-rainbow dreamland.

Most workers, although they thoroughly enjoyed the party, were not caught up in the fairy tale. They shared the excitement at fan parks or watched games on television sets in crowded shebeens, pubs and restaurants, or often in equally crowded living rooms at home, but could not avoid the day-to-day reality of unemployment in often hopelessly unserviced or under-serviced environments.

The branding of a fairy tale in the hope of attracting foreign investment or more tourism dollars sounds so much like a refrain workers have lived with for years: the promise of pie in the sky, by and by. Obviously, this does not apply to those still caught up in the euphoria of that month-long party: they are probably in for a very rude awakening.

Diehard partygoers - and individuals and groups responsible for promoting and organising the event - will be loath to tarnish the image of transformative success; to concede that, while the party was great, the cost may prove crippling. Concerns have, of course, already been raised, especially about the hugely expensive stadiums that evinced such compliments and will cost many millions annually to maintain.

The unions have consistently expressed concern about the cost and the exorbitant demands of Fifa, but often in an undertone, not wishing to appear like party poopers. And now that the party is over, it is from the labour movement that concrete proposals and not criticisms have started to come.

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven, for example, this week pointed out that the organisational ability, workmanship and resources that enabled world class World Cup infrastructure to be completed in record time, should be marshalled to build houses, schools and clinics. But he was also concerned about the cost of the World Cup party, the low level of stadium use, and the ongoing expense of maintaining the new venues.

It is a concern shared by a range of economists as well as the labour movement. In light of this, Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich has suggested that the expensively upgraded Athlone stadium be earmarked and, if necessary, adapted for use as emergency accommodation in times of need.

He, Craven and other unionists feel that it is essential to "look into every creative way" to recoup the huge initial and ongoing maintenance costs of the stadiums. An alternative - to demolish them to save in the long term - is not being considered.

What has been suggested as a possibility for the stadiums in Nelspruit, Polokwane and Rustenburg is that they might - if the generally lightweight construction permits it - be converted into high density, tiered housing, situated around a central "garden" that is now the soccer pitch.

However, National Council of Trade Unions general secretary Manene Samela voices the views of a number of his members in demanding that the onus should be on the SA Football Association to produce answers to what could be a costly dilemma.

Fears about the expense of the recent party were underlined with the estimate, for example, that the annual cost of maintaining Polokwane's Peter Mokaba and Nelspruit's Mbombela stadiums will be at least R17 million. Neither city boasts a major soccer or rugby team and there are still no plans for the future of the stadiums that, together, cost R2.65 billion to build.

Cape Town's flagship stadium at Green Point is also not immune from white elephant fears. Former rugby great Morne du Plessis, speaking as head of the consortium that now controls the stadium, this week admitted that he was concerned that it would not be able to break even, let alone make a profit. Any profits will be shared with the city council; losses will be met by ratepayers.

Concern about the viability of the stadiums was also expressed this week by Johannesburg-based Citigroup economist Jean-Francois Messier. He notes that it is not yet clear how even Johannesburg's Soccer City and Durban's Moses Mabhida stadium will make ends meet. "And even Munich and Montreal struggled financially because of the costs incurred with the staging of the Olympics," he says.

This view is bolstered by documentary film maker Stelios Kouloglou, who recently completed a film about the International Monetary Fund and countries in crisis. "A contributory factor to the current Greek economic collapse was the extraordinary cost of staging the Olympics," he says. South Africa's investment in five new stadiums was, in many ways, on a par with the Olympic experience.

However, such considerations have not stopped a host of enthusiasts, from President Jacob Zuma down, claiming: "South Africa will never be the same again."

Unfortunately, for the majority of South Africans, their daily lives are very much the same today as they were before the great party.

Yet they too were caught up in the gees - the spirit - of joyous celebration that spread across most of the country. But, as Lesiba Seshoka of the National Union of Mineworkers notes, they tended to be aware that a jol costs money.

"This was like spending the year's grocery money on one big party," he says.

In this view, the spirit of recent celebration is about to be overtaken by the ghost of increasing penury.