World Cup 2010: At whose cost?

Dave Zirin at The Nation reports that preparations for World Cup 2010 are likely to exacerbate violence and unrest in the host country, South Africa.

Cities such as Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg will be the nexus for thousands of foreign fans and dignitaries. Meanwhile, the building of five new mega-stadiums would, according to some South African politicians, “clear the slums by 2010.” Le Monde Diplomatique wrote in May about the World Cup preparations: “Construction–and corruption–is booming. But almost none of the building or the money can be accessed by the poor who live in shantytowns without proper water, sanitation or electricity.” Housing prices in the twenty-first century have gone up 92 percent, while wages have risen a mere 8 percent. As slums are cleared, tensions will surely rise.

Now, I like to think I’m a real soccer hooligan and the World Cup is like 100 times cooler than Christmas for me. And I was as excited as the next person at the chance to finally have an African nation as the host country. But how can this be justified? The people paying the price for this Cup by having their neighborhoods demolished won’t even see any of the benefits of the games. So they’re displaced for what exactly? Just so South Africa can do what it takes to host a soccer tournament?

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