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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 14, 2009

Film slams preparations for 2010

South Africa has wasted resources on next year's soccer World Cup and will be left with stadiums that are no more than white elephants, a critical new documentary says.

Continental economic powerhouse South Africa, the first African nation to stage the sports spectacle, has spent billions of dollars to build new stadiums and refurbish existing venues in 10 cities where games will be played.

But social activists and academics say the funds would have been better spent tackling poverty, housing shortages and a health system buckling under a major HIV/Aids epidemic.

"When you build enormous stadia, you (are) shifting those resources ... from building schools or hospitals and then you have these huge structures standing empty and being used to a very limited extent. They become white elephants," anti-apartheid veteran Dennis Brutus, who was jailed with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island in the 1960s, tells "Fahrenheit 2010".

Lingering concerns that some stadiums will become empty shells that are a burden to taxpayers have threatened to take the shine off government plans to leave a meaningful post-tournament legacy. In September Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the government faced a 2.3 billion rand ($307 million) shortfall for six new stadiums.

Besides funding challenges, claims of corruption and tender rigging have been linked to the new Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, where only four of the 64 World Cup games will be played.

The location of other new stadiums, notably semi-final venues Green Point in Cape Town and in Durban, have also been criticised.

"There is currently no contingency plan saying what's actually going to happen to this stadium (Mbombela) once the World Cup is gone ... and at the end of the day one can only think that the stadium is going to stand redundant and empty afterwards," said Anthony Benadie, an opposition politician.

Feature documentary Fahrenheit 2010, written and directed by Australian Craig Tanner, was screened to a Cape Town audience for the first time on Sunday evening.

South Africa, emerging from its first recession in two decades, is hoping 450,000 foreign tourists will boost revenues during the month-long tournament starting June 11.

Marketing the country's attractions to a global audience estimated at 1 billion is also expected to lead to a long-term tourist boom and job creation.

But besides a politically connected elite, centred in the construction sector, there was little evidence so far to suggest South Africans will benefit economically.

FIFA expects to make 25 billion rand ($3.34 billion) from its 2010 television broadcasting deals alone, more than the combined total achieved for television rights in its 2002 and 2006 tournaments.

"The tragedy is that public funds have been looted for a moment in our history. People are still going to be living in shacks, the jobs are not sustainable - this is a blatant misuse of funds," said sociologist Ashwin Desai.

However, some viewed the tournament in a different light - as a vehicle for uniting a nation still battling the effects of discrimination 15 years after apartheid, and where the gap between rich and poor is the highest in the world.

"With all the negative things that are taking place in Africa, this is a superb moment for us. If we are going to have white elephants, so be it," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

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