The CEO of the World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) Danny Jordaan argued on Monday that, while it could not be denied that South Africa and Africa had serious social challenges and competing fiscal demands, it would be wrong to suggest that the 2010 FIFA World Cup was being hosted at the expense of the poor.
“It is not correct to assume that it is at the expense of the social challenges that we are facing.
“In the budget allocation, there is a drive to build infrastructure for the World Cup, as well as an increase in social expenditure on education, houses and fighting HIV and Aids,” said Jordaan.
He disputed the argument that where there was misery, all the people had was misery, adding that the continent was as entitled to orchestras, concerts, church gatherings and sporting events as any other.
He pointed out that as far as the people of the country were concerned, the LOC had taken specific measures such as the introduction of cheaper Category Four tickets, to ensure that a broad spectrum of the population could experience the spectacle.
“About 120 000 tickets for the World Cup will be distributed free, of which about 40 000 will go to the construction workers who built some of the stadiums. This has not been done at previous World Cups.”
Jordaan reiterated that he takes cognisance of all the socioeconomic challenges and that the LOC had taken some of the measures that it had, specifically to ensure that the poorest of the poor would benefit.
“If one raised the issue with those football fans who have no house or a job, [and ask] if they want the World Cup in the country, the answer will be an overwhelming yes.
“[That’s] because it is the generator of hopes and smiles to the faces of our people . . . and we cannot deny the African continent the fundamental pleasure and joy that football brings.”
The country, he argued, would continue addressing its social challenges, while the football event would offer at least one platform for Africans to compete “equally with the rest of the world”.