PRETORIA: World federation FIFA and the South African Football Association have both responded defiantly to an attack on the 2010 World Cup legacy by Western Cape Finance Minister Alan Winde writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Winde, from the Democratic Alliance, had complained on BBC Radio Five that FIFA had taken advantage of poor negotiating by South Africa’s politicians and sports leaders in the run-up to the finals.
But Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s head of corporate social responsibility, responded to Winde’s whinge by saying: “The whole continent knew what the World Cup entailed. The reality is that the World Cup is a very well-known event.
“There are no secrets about what it costs and what it entails . . . the World Cup was not a surprise for South Africa and FIFA invested billions of dollars in the organisation of the World Cup in South Africa.
“The opportunities for the host country are to be taken seriously by the people in the country to make the most of the World Cup.”
That meant that it was not enough for South African politicians and sports officials to sit on their hands and wait for the all the largesse to come pouring in, they were expected to take the forward themselves.
World Cup hosts were responsible for choosing stadia sites and whether they factored in a sustainability potential or just answered political expediency was their own business.
Addiechi added: “FIFA does not ask for certain stadia. We expect the hosts to have a plan to manage these stadia in the futue. It is not up to FIFA to control how public money is spent.”
Winde’s complaints were echoed by South African World Cup defender Matthew Booth said: “I think SAFA missed a fantastic opportunity to broaden the number of people playing football in this country.
“People who followed the national team avidly were expecting much more from this, they were expecting a knock-on effect, they were expecting kids to get better opportunities at grassroots level and I’m sure there are a lot of disappointed people two years down the line.”
But Robin Petersen, former chief executive of SAFA and now its development director, described Winde’s criticisms as “a tremendous over-statement” though he did acknowledge Booth’s point about a lack of urgency in capitalising on the World Cup in terms of football development.
However, he described the legacy factor as “fantastic.”
Petersen said: “It was clear from the beginning that the event would cost the country a significant amount of money . . . The stadia are only a small part of the legacy which includes massively improved road and rail links in a transport infrastructure which was fast-tracked for the World Cup and has made life and business much easier for the next generation.
“We staged the World Cup in the middle of the greatest economic recession the world has seen since the 1930s and the fact that we held the World Cup . . . it helped the country to continue to grow during that time.”
# # # #