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The football World Cup in South Africa this year will have economic draw backs, not benefits, for its host country says Professor Richard Tomlinson.

"Facts are negotiable when it comes to the World Cup as it relies on the source of the facts and the context that they're put in.  However, its estimated that South Africa has spent about $4.6 billion on the event."  

"I attended a financial modelling conference in the lead up (to the Cup) and the conclusion at the end was that the best we could hope for was that it would not damage the economy, and that circumstance would only arise if costs were kept under control."

"Well, we know costs have spiralled way out of control."

Professor Tomlinson, the head of Urban Planning at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, co-edited and contributed to a book on Development and Dreams: the urban legacy of the 2010 Football World Cup.  He says despite this, there will be benefits.

"A lot of what has happened has just been bringing forward in time planned investments in transport and infrastructure, and certainly the public transport upgrade will be, for me, the defining legacy.  For example, the airports now are really first world, they're top class."

Professor Tomlinson says that culture and identity reasons were a prominent part of the government's decision to host the tournament.  "To me, it centres on an African identity, a respect for African culture and a replacement of the typical images of dismay associated with the region; starving children, HIV etc."

"The questions of cultural identity are deeply psychological for most South Africans.  The world media invaribly displays Africa in a negative light, and I think there's a strongly felt need to say 'we can do it, we have a culture that's worth respect'.  It's not just to say we're a fun party place."

The now iconic vuvuzela's however, are not part of this culture he says.

"I think the vuvuzela phenomenon is quite extraordinary.  They aren't made in South Africa, China actually, and the website from which most are sold originated in Israel.  So who benefits?"

"To go back to an African identity theme, the head of FIFA Sepp Blatter has said these are an African games and that's why we're going to have the vuvuzela.  But Africa is bigger than just one country, so I find that an expression of ignorance.  Are we to say that the Moroccans use the vuvuzela? No. Do the Algerians? No."  

"These assertions are just silly."

More information

You can download a copy of the book Development and Dreams: the urban legacy of the 2010 Football World Cup by clicking here.

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David Scott
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