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The Costs of a World Cup

Posted on Mar 12, 2010
Wikimedia Commons

Many people living in the shadow of Nelspruit’s new $137 million stadium still fetch water from dirty puddles and live without power or toilets.

The World Cup is coming and South Africa has overhauled its athletic infrastructure in preparation. But while only four games will be played in the city of Nelspruit, the government has spent $137 million on a new stadium there while many of its denizens live without electricity.

Although there is strong national pride in hosting soccer’s premier event, protests have erupted against the construction of multimillion-dollar sports facilities around the country. —JCL

The New York Times:

Come June, soccer’s World Cup will be hosted by South Africa. Though only 4 of the 64 games are to be played here in Nelspruit, a $137 million stadium was built for the occasion. The arena’s 18 supporting pylons reach skyward in the shape of orange giraffes. At nightfall, their eyeballs blink with flashes of bewitching light.

The people who live nearby, proud as they are to host soccer’s greatest event, also wonder: How could there be money for a 46,000-seat stadium while many of them still fetch water from dirty puddles and live without electricity or toilets?

The 2010 World Cup is meant to display South Africa at its very best: a modern, prosperous nation friendly to commerce, tourists and democratic ideals. This is the first time the event will be held in Africa, and it was buoyantly suggested by the former president, Thabo Mbeki, that the competition was a milestone for the entire continent, “sending ripples of confidence from the Cape to Cairo.”

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