Cost of World Cup begins to worry South Africa

By Mark Gleeson
July 17, 2009

When the initial estimate of World Cup stadium costs was made by South Africa, it was set at some R2-3 billion.

That was at the time of the country’s success in winning the bid ahead of its fellow African competitors in 2004, some six years before the hosting of the 2010 World Cup.

For months, officials have been predicting the final bill will come in around R13 billion. It is an staggering increase that has never got anything but a flimsy explanation over the last few years.

The economic recession, the price of steel, the volatile South African currency (the Rand) were all cited but never was a detailed explanation offered over the massive escalation.

Admittedly the stadium plan at the time of the R2-3 billion price range changed considerably in the subsequent years; two new stadiums were added to the original plans and the showpiece Soccer City venue given a whole new architectural feel.

Few in South Africa have ever questioned the additional costs, not even those who have felt a sporting spectacle should never have been allowed to take much needed cash away from sorting out the long-standing legacy of decades of Apartheid.

The Treasury seemed consistently happy to be doling out the cash. Up until now though. A probe from the Competition Commission in South Africa is to investigate the allocation of the construction tenders after all the cost escalations.

It might seem a little belated given that the last phase of stadium building is now underway and the venues are due to ready in December.

A country like South Africa needs the World Cup but there is a limit to how much they can pay out for a month-long party, particularly if it is to the detriment of millions of citizens who still have so little.

14 comments

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What country has ever had a debt free world cup?
WHy is SA seeking such glory if it is so corrupt?
How many Ministers of Government are getting massive kick backs?
Who will take care of crime & medicine if the S.A services are over run at their present load?
Public transport where?
Good luck

Posted by Ed | Report as abusive

@Ed.
1) None
2) It isn’t check out Transparency International’s website and you’ll see SA is in the similar league as countries like Italy – you’ll never hear about people complaining that Italy is corrupt to the core, so why do you accuse SA of being so corrupt?
3) None.
4) The same people that are currently in the medical and police services.
5) Try the Transnet website for public rail services and city websites for BRT’s
6) Thanks.

Posted by Ian | Report as abusive

[...] Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Cost of World Cup begins to … [...]

Ian, do you want to know why Italy and South Africa are never put side by side and compared? Its because one has one of the planets highest gdp’s and redistributes its wealth, while the other is a third world country. Even if Italy is as corrupt as you say, look at the country’s standard of living, far superior to any African country. It blows my mind that FIFA gave a developing country like this a world cup! A country with no stadiums, infrastructure security or even that much interest in football (they actually had to give tickets away to fill stadiums for the confeds cup! Pathetic!) The next World Cup should be hosted by Brazil or England, true football havens that deserve this honour (I’m neither Brazilian or English, simply objective and fair). The people of South Africa deserve a government that will provide education, employment, safety, and a proper standard of life. Not spend billions on stadiums and debt that will never be recouped. FIFA made a mistake here that will see the top 1% prosper, while the general population will have to pay for this extravagance they simply can’t afford. Or maybe FIFA and South Africa struck a deal with Bono where after the WC U2 will plead to the international community to forgive SA’s debt! These countries have to help themselves before the international community can help them. No african country is ready to host a World Cup.

Posted by The Soccer Snob | Report as abusive

Soccer Snob – South Africa, even before deciding to build new stadiums for the 2010 WC, already have various large stadia – albeit all rugby stadiums. Add to that SA have successfully hosted rugby and cricket world cups. Next time do some research before you shoot from the hip.

Posted by gecko4 | Report as abusive

Hey gecko, how many of those rugby/cricket stadiums are being used for the WC? Of course I know South Africa is a rugby and cricket nation, that’s a big reason why attendance at the confeds cup was soooo poor! They don’t appreciate the gift that’s been thrust upon them. And just because they have big stadiums it doesn’t mean they’re WC worthy. I’ve seen some of these “stadiums” they look like no more than massive rows of high school bleachers. Listen up gecko, massive seating capacity doesn’t make a great stadium! And how do you have the cojones to compare a rugby and cricket world cup to THE WORLD CUP! Both of those competitions combined don’t equal half the global audience and grandeur of a football world cup, not even close!!! Trust me, I’ve done my research, I know what I’m talking about, you on the other hand are uneducated and hence only make weak and irrelevant arguments.

Posted by The Soccer Snob | Report as abusive

It’s better to feed hungy people at Africa. Do they really need soccer; Or food? I don’t believe that they can want soccer.

The World Cup is an investment (albeit an admittedly expensive one). And like any investment no-one knows if it will pay off but South Africa, with FIFA’s help, is making a big statement that Africa is advancing, capable and gearing for growth; growth that will ultimately provide a sustainable and prosperous future.

The world will be overwhelmed by Africa’s raw passion for football but it might be also be surprised by Africa’s abilities, infrastructure and human capital.

If calculated risks, like staging a World Cup, are not taken, Africa will never make a the leap neccesary to becoming a continent that can compete with advanced economies.

And if the rest of the world realises that it needs a stronger Africa more than it can appreciate, it will be be ZAR13 billion well spent..

Posted by Johnny | Report as abusive

SoccerSnob – Soccer is by far the biggest supported sport in SA – once again – do your research. Not only local soccer, the English Premiership has huge following due to constant television coverage. As to the Stadia – Ellis Park in Jo’burg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, FreeState stadium in Bloemfontein and the Royal Bofakeng Stadium in Rustenburg are all being used both for rugby and soccer and all will feature in the WC. The old rugby stadium in Port Elizabeth has been demolished and a new multi purpose stadium (soccer & rugby) has been build. The only big famous rugby stadiums not be used are Newlands in Cape Town as a new stadium has been build closer to the centre and Kings Park in Durban – the only point on contention. Kings Park is a massive and perfectly adequate stadium – used regulary for soccer matches. However, the powers that be decided to build a massive new stadium – right next to it! This indeed is an example of waste of resource and money. Soccer City in Soweto has been upgraded and a new stadium build in Nelspruit.

Posted by gecko4 | Report as abusive

So south africa is crying about the cost. Will someone tell the situation with Nigeria concerning t e hosting of the U17 world cup

Posted by kk | Report as abusive

First off, I don’t believe football is so huge there, or else it wouldn’t have been so hard to fill stadiums where some of the worlds top teams were playing. Or maybe the problem was that people couldn’t afford to buy tickets since the general public has to work about a week to afford a ticket. This is a problem which is wide spread across the country, even the construction workers building the stadiums walked off because they’re grossly under paid. My problem isn’t with Africa hosting the world cup, its with a greedy government exploiting its people for its own profit. I believe these billions would be better invested in health care and education ahead of a month long party they can’t afford.

Despite FIFA’s help, they are still struggling to meet deadlines. Originally, SA was suppose to have 13 stadiums ready, but since they didn’t have the resources, that number was dropped to 10, and half of those are new builds. Like I said before, just because they have buildings with large seating capacities, doesn’t mean they have World Cup stadiums. I’m certain most of their stadiums fall short of the min requirements in other areas like parking, transportation,amenities, safety, security, staff, pitch requirements, and all around infrastructure.

Can it happen, and will it, yes. But how successfully, we’ll see.

Gecko, I don’t share your optimism for the organization and logistics of this world cup, especially since its the first in Africa. The world will be scrutinizing it more than any WC before it, so it better be perfect.

Posted by The Soccer Snob | Report as abusive

I’m not that optimistic either – having lived in both Africa and Europe and all to well aware of the shortfall in transport infrastructure, security and potentially shortage of hotelbeds. But I’m pleased the opportunity has been given and pretty sure the country will rise to the occasion.

Posted by gecko4 | Report as abusive

That’s what is killing soccer. Politics. Soccer does not need good seat and large crowds! It’s about the beautiful sport that does not choose between rich or poor, muslims or christianity. It is about abeautiful sport! I enjoyed the confederation cup far away from south Afica, i didn’t need to be there and futhermore kaka is not complaining nor chelsea not manchester united who have played in south Africa! And i trully agree that Brazil should host the world cup someday but that does not mean they should always do that…we need new things and history has to be made….Go SA do you thing. 100% for south Africa 2010!

Nice post. i learned much more about the world cup football. thanks for posting.

Yeah but the amount of money South Africa generates by the tourism will help to offset the costs. People will stay at hotels, eat in restaurants, take flights and many will probably also do tourism around South Africa while they’re there for the World Cup.