Take your Soccer World Cup and shove it



Since we were selected to host the Soccer World Cup, some time has passed. In that time, my feelings and opinions on this subject have become stronger and stronger to the point where I must write this post just to get it off my chest. I am interested to see readers comments on this one.

The main issue as far as Cape Town is concerned seems to be the location of the stadium. In my naive mind, the perfect place to put the stadium is Athlone. Aparently I wasn’t far wrong because the study done by the city into the matter presented Athlone as the second best option, with Newlands as the best. Not sure why Newlands was number 1, but I guess it has to do with the fact that there is already a large stadium there.

 Considering that our number one priority in South Africa is the upliftment of the previously disadvantaged, it seems to me that having the stadium in Athlone is a no brainer. There will be massive investment in the area, it will create business opportunities for the people of Athlone and increase the value of the properties and I don’t know what all else. I am no expert but my semi-intelligent brain tells me there will be a lot of positive benefit for the area. So that is one giant plus factor which should make is a cut and dried decision. But in case you are having doubts, there are more reasons why it should be in Athlone: it’s accessible and central, there is already a stadium there, there is plenty of land available for other infrastructure, the environmental impact will be less. Why would we deny the suburb of Athlone this opportunity of upliftment and integration. What do I mean by integration? Well, I have lived in Cape Town for 8 years but have never been to Athlone, but if the stadium was there I would probably go to Athlone on occasion, along with thousands of other people. That’s what I mean by integration. I would say that not putting the stadium in Athlone would be a sin.

Now, the thing that really got my goat was learning why the stadium is not going to be in Athlone but in Greenpoint: because FIFA said “people don’t want to see shacks”. FIFA said we must put the stadium in Greenpoint so that’s where we are putting the stadium. Who the hell is FIFA to come here and ruin our beautiful city as well as deny the people of Athlone this upliftment opportunity? Firstly there are no shacks in Athlone, it’s a perfectly decent suburb, not larney, but decent. There are a myriad of VERY important reasons why the stadium should not be in Greenpoint. Did you see the article in the Cape Times with the artist’s impression of how the stadium will look? Using the traditional view of Table Mountain from Blaauberg, the 16 storey stadium looks like a huge wart on a beautiful landscape. Apparently Greenpoint’s sewerage system is already overloaded, what will a 60 000 seater stadium do to the sewerage system? I don’t know much about the ecological impact of the stadium in Greenpoint, but from what I have read it’s not going to be good, especially considering the land has been set aside as a ‘green area’. Do I even have to mention traffic? Getting to and through Greenpoint is currently a difficult thing, putting the stadium there will make the traffic situation impossible. I have also read that this stadium, which we can’t afford, will be leased free of charge to an ‘operator’ who will keep the profits from the use of the stadium. So the city will not see any financial benefit from the eyesore, I mean stadium.

Quite frankly, if we can’t build the stadium in Athlone I think we should rather not host any games in Cape Town. Building the stadium will put us into serious debt and what will we do with a stadium that size afterwards? That money should rather be used to sort out infrastructure and services throughout Cape Town. Now that is a worthwhile long term investment. People seem to think that we will see some enormous financial benefit from the visitors over the time of the World Cup, well let me tell you a little secret, everybody wants to come to Cape Town. I am willing to bet that if we do not host any games here, 80% of the people who come to SA for the World Cup will still come to Cape Town anyway. So we will get most of that benefit plus save billions. Sounds absolutely perfect to me. Let’s rather use the next 3 years and the billions of Rands to make the city safer, sort out the sewerage problems that we apparently have from lack of maintenance, sort out the traffic problems, build houses for the homeless, provide electricty and waste removal to everyone. Let’s use some of that money to invest in recycling initiatives, let’s look into energy alternatives. There is an endless list of things we could do with that money rather than build a stupid stadium. We will ruin our city for ever just to host one stupid sport event for one month.

FIFA can frek right off. I hope Helen Zille (who is doing a great job as mayor by the way) reads this and gives it some serious consideration. It will take balls to go this route but I think it’s the best route for us. Phew, right, I’m feeling a bit better now that I’ve got that off my chest. We should start a campaign: No World Cup for Cape Town!


11 responses to “Take your Soccer World Cup and shove it”

  1. walshie

    Interesting post Daxo… as one of the few residents of Greenpoint who doesn’t seem to mind the stadium too much, maybe I can add to the debate…

    1. The position of the stadium:
    You state that Athlone would be a better site as it would provide more upliftment for that area & it is more accessible. As far as upliftment goes, the research on the ‘World Cup effect’ that I’ve read points more to a general economic upsurge in the host country’s economy prior to the WC (rather than during the WC) as a result of increased ‘money in the wallet’ for all those people who now have jobs building infrastructure (inc the transport, the stadium, etc), so you could argue that it doesn’t matter where the stadium is built as the people who have more money in their wallet and are hence driving the economic upliftment are the same wherever it is built. You could even go so far to argue that it is better for more money to be spent on the stadium (hence build a new one, don’t upgrade an existing one). Secondly, a key deliverable of the local & provincial govt is to devise a sustainable and effective transport solution to the stadium (and by implication to the CBD). Given that 1000s of people sit in traffic for 1-2 hours a day currently, hopefully the 2010 demands will force the politicians to deliver an effective transportation strategy not just for the WCup, but for the 1000s of people who won’t be able to afford the price of a ticket, but who will use the public transport sysem to get into the CBD to work every day!

    2. People will come to Cape Town anyway:
    I agree with you, however, as per my point above, the real economic benefit of the World Cup is not gonna come from ‘sucking rich European tourists dry’ during the month of the tournament, it is going to come from a wealthier local population. This is only going to happen if money gets spent on infrastructure & the stadium!

    3. Lastly, the ‘artist’s impression’ of the stadium that was published in Cape Times was apparently grossly oversized (admittedly according to the Local Organising Committee spokesman), but why do you think the Cape Times used that picture? Maybe to sell a few more newspapers than normal?? Cynical me, but the longer there is a front page story about the stadium, the World Cup or anything similar, the more money Independent Newspapers makes!!!

    OK, I’ll shut up now…

  2. FIFA 2010

    Based on the title of this entry, you are absolutely correct, its not South Africa’s World Cup, the World Cup belongs to FIFA, hence FIFA World Cup.

    There’s this perception and I might be wrong, that FIFA is some sort of blinded ignorant organization who have no clue what they are doing by selecting a particular site/ a particular number of stadia. While the LOC plays a vital role in providing information to FIFA and managing the organization of the tournament on a day to day level, essentially the final decision comes from FIFA. They have hosted many, many world cups, they have the experience, they have the knowledge of football on the African continent. Blatter spent years with the development of football on the African contintent.They did a full evaluation of our country during the inspection phase and continue to do so, but perhaps in a more informal manner now that we are hosts.

    The idea/ belief that they are some random european tourists who just btw picked Green point because they felt like it is incorrect. They realize, the marketing potential, they are probably fully aware of out transport weaknesses, they understand the massive success of the Cape Town CBD and waterfront and they have seen the not so green, Green point common.

    Stadia, in less developed areas, do not uplift the area after the world cup. The economic effects of the World Cup have been studied and in terms of viability, contrary to what many believe, Green Point is the best decision. I for one do not believe that a 60,000 seat stadium located in Blue Downs will contribute to solving the real issues that exist in those and many areas.

    The stadium in Athlone is not sufficient for reasons outlined by an independent study and reasons provided by FIFA, some of which include the impact of sending images to the world of a poorly developed area. The 2010 FIFA WC is about marketing South Africa and changing perceptions about Africa as a whole, Sepp Blatter and the FIFA executive have witnessed the impact of many FIFA WC’s on a host country and how the image of the country can be changed so dramatically by this, arguably the world’s most important sporting event.

    Secondly, on a more technical note, the stadium’s maximum capacity does not reach the required capacity for a SF. The stadium also does not face the correct direction as per FIFA requirements. There is this argument. Why does CT need a SF? We are talking about CT, a major international tourist destination. We’re talking top ten, rated by magazines every year, a city that produces the most sizeable GDP contribution in terms of tourism. A city that needs to find its place in the world of truly global cities. While CT has done a fantastic job, there is this false belief that CT does not need increased tourism and that the WC won’t really add that much to CT’s future. In my opinion that belief displays a lack of understanding regarding the magnitude of the FIFA WC. CT has yet to reach half its tourism potential, the FIFA WC is just one step towards CT reaching its greatest potential. A SF results in 9 matches in the city from Round 1 to the SF stage which results in a longer period of stay for all visitors, who most likely will be based in CT. If we really want to make an argument for the poor, then we need to realize that many sustainable jobs would be created simply by hosting this world cup and growing our tourism base.

    Which study indicated Athlone as the second best option? The study commissioned by the city did not rank the alternative sites, but simply presented a table of the weaknesses and strengths of each venue.

    Hosting world cup matches in Athlone will provide massive investment, and will create business opportunities but accommodation, and facilities in the area simply do not support the hosting of 50,000 spectators in the area. Athlone firstly, needs to create a central improvement body; secondly, Athlone stadium along with the nearby sports facilities needs to be integrated/consolidated into one sports precinct. That is the sort of future Athlone needs, not a World Cup of promises that does not leave a true lasting legacy. The decision is certainly not cut and dry. I see you haven’t been to Athlone. Perhaps you should visit, see the impact of the new stadium (or lack thereof), on the surrounding area.

    There is a stadium in Athlone a fantastic stadium in the second phase of its construction, that will more than support the needs of the local soccer supporters. The area is not that unsafe, so what is stopping you?

    So, yes it is FIFA’s world cup and yes it is their decision when it comes to venues, they have the experience. People do not want to see elements of poverty, not only in Athlone but in areas surrouding Athlone. Why market our weaknesses? Does the US promote and advertise its slums? We are not the only country with this problem…uhm Brazil( Rio).

    How would the new stadium ruin our city? The R7 billion transport investment being finalized to ensure that the 700,000 who do travel to the CBD on a daily basis have a better quality transport system, dedicated lanes, upgraded stations, new trains and busses. This is a massive long term investment that would not happen if the stadium was in Athlone. Finally, the inner city, CBD bus system will go ahead. Planned back in 2002 and like most CT transport projects never saw the light of day. How about CT train station? Over a million people pass through it daily. It will too receive its major upgrade, that will benefit public transport uses the most. Those who use trains, busses etc. will all benefit.

    Yes, there most certainly are no shacks in Athlone. There are also no hotels, no sufficient entertainment areas, lack of adequate rail connections, lack of space etc. etc.

    There were numerous public participation meetings, which gave all organizations the chance to view stadium visuals. Ignorance is sometimes a choice or is it?

    The Cape Times sketch? I find it strange that people are so surprised by the stadium size, it’s as if they come from the dark ages. Stadia are big; by their very nature they are large. The stadium height has been minimized to lower the impact, first by 10m and now by 2m due to cost. It doesn’t damage the landscape; it fits beautifully with the backdrop of Table Mountain. Most of the stadium is semi-transparent, so the big concrete stadium people imagine is incorrect. Why? Because, they have failed to get informed. Who should be blamed for their chosen ignorance? What is an eyesore is the now partially demolished Greenpoint stadium, which was barely safe for the major concerts at the stadium.

    You think the German architects, top Cape Town planners, and the city would design a stadium without considering the sewerage plans? Yes they believe it is sufficient to deal with a new stadium. Don’t blame the city; it’s the engineers, and planners who should be blamed. I highly doubt though that they simply forgot to think about sewerage, these are top, top professionals. Berlin Olympic stadium Allianz Arena, Cologne stadium, and many world cup venues, you think they simply forgot to tell the city or take into account the full infrastructural needs of the stadium? I don’t think so.

    “A green area”

    Oh, sure, our “green area”, today is brown. The fields are pathetic, the sports facilities are pathetic. Its not used by the people of CT, its not a nice space. So what will the city do? It will set aside double the original amount of R60 million. It will provide R120 million for a major urban park based on the parks of New York, Chicago, and Hyde Park in London. They will be integrating sports fields and tennis WP will be building a new tennis centre.
    The result: The common will become common, and yes it will be green.


    That’s why we have transport planners, To ensure that changes are made so that people in Green Point will have better access post 2010. I find it hilarious that people assume that traffic conditions, or perhaps road infrastructure will stay the same around the stadium. Not true. About R500 million will be spent on access to the area, this might even be partially funded by the new owners of the waterfront, who btw will spend another R7 billion on the waterfront before 2010. On top that its standard that cars are not allowed into the stadium precinct 5 hours before matches on match days. None of us will be able to drive to the stadium, we will have to park outside the CBD, and uses busses and bicycles along dedicated transport lanes to the stadium. These access improvements benefit the CBD and the waterfront which is one of our major draw cards. It receives over 20 million visitors annually, and will be seamlessly integrated with the new stadium. Fan miles from the city will be created, this is a massive project, that builds on the success of the waterfront, CBD and Cape Town’s international profile. These aren’t my fantasies but the words of the city, planners, both local and international and the new owners of the waterfront who are currently building islands in the ocean to form the shape of the world-and its continents. These people have the know-how, they have the experience. We aren’t dealing with amateurs. So, no, a stadium won’t just be plonked in Greenpoint without improvements to accommodate it.

    I hope you don’t believe traffic in Newlands will be better. While solutions exist around the CBD and Greenpoint, there is simply no solution to traffic at Newlands.

    We can’t afford the stadium? We were handed R1.93 billion by the national treasury and we are only contributing R400 million. That’s a bit more than the R297 million planned investment for Athlone stadium pre2010. So how can we not afford the stadium?

    Free of charge? Uhm, do you have a spare R265 million to become the private operator of the stadium? That’s what it will cost to win that bid. If you are referring to a bid by a casino that cannot happen as a new casino license was ruled out years ago and recently confirmed by Lynne Brown.

    The stadium is not an eyesore. The stadium has been designed to minimize the impact on the area. Expensive ETFE cladding will wrap the stadium, so that light from within the stadium illuminates the stadium but does not shed any direct light around the area as the existing green point facility did. The reality is less light pollution that what is already experienced with big concerts that have taken place at the existing stadium.
    Secondly, a double layer roof to minimize noise pollution, again using expensive ETFE cladding to ensure that even less noise would impact on the surrounding areas.

    Serious debt? How? Do you realize the serious under spending that has taken place in the city over the years where CT was run by the ANC. So, Helen Zille capped the city contribution at R400 million …why? Because that’s all we can afford without jeopardizing service delivery. Zille is left to play catch up after years of pathetic service delivery by the ANC.

    What will we do with the stadium? The same annual events will take place at the stadium. Major concerts, the minstrel and VOC carnival, the argus cycle tour and many other local events, marathons, cultural celebrations.
    Its not just a stadium. It’s a stadium with a podium to include sports facilities e.g. an Indoor Olympic Pool, two indoor sports arena’s. Essentially the private operator will be handed this space to fit out before 2010.

    But what else?
    The private operator will be paying R265 million and will want to make a profit. They have the resources to aggressively market the stadium. They have the resources to maintain the stadium. Ideally, the financially weak Rugby WP will move to the stadium along with the two local football clubs.

    The upper tier of the stadium will be removed reducing capacity to 55,000 at most, and will be replaced with conference and office space with views across the CBD, waterfront and Atlantic Ocean.

    Certainly CT will still benefit from the World Cup without hosting matches.
    Do you think it will still receive the national treasury allocation for transport, ICT, services, marketing, infrastructure upgrades? The stadium is just one part in drawing R21bn worth of investment. The 2010 deadline forces the city to implement transport projects which were meant to take place ten, twenty and even thirty years ago. This will benefit all of CT. You’d be naïve to believe that this investment will take place without the World Cup.

    Again what money? We are only spending R400 million, and no we won’t be getting R1.93 billion from the national treasury for fun or for other causes. Do you think R7 billion will still be spent at the waterfront without the stadium? How long before “brown point not so common” is set aside for low cost houses?

    The World cup in magnitude is larger than CT, it’s not a means to solve social problems and it does not result in the economic boom some believe it does. CT has a significant role in the future of the country and the future of the province. The stadium at Greenpoint presents the best opportunity to attract massive sustainable investments and inflows unlike anything we have seen before. I am not opposed to people being opposed to the stadium at Greenpoint, but the benefit of the stadium in Green Point, not only to CT but to RSA as a whole outweighs the benefit over any other location.

    We all have to agree that it faces sustainability issues. That’s why the city has chosen to find a private operator with resources to attract events and manage the urban park.
    The stadium does face transport issues, that’s why we have top transport people working on that.

    The reality is we will spend R400 million of our city’s money that will attract as a very conservative est., R21 billion worth of investment to the city and I’m talking pre 2010. What impact will a successful world cup have on the city in the long term? Want to attach a value to that?

    We need to make it work, and I have seen the hard work that has gone into making sure that we do. There is a bigger picture with a bigger plan, with a larger benefit that will benefit all of Cape Town.

    In an ideal world, there would be no time, budget and time constraints. In an ideal world CT would be able to host matches at two venues, like Johannesburg. I would then use both Greenpoint and Athlone.

    Athlone stadium is our main training venue for the 2010 World Cup and will be used to host international warm up matches while the new stadium is being constructed.

    At the end of the day we all want what is best for CT and its people, and therefore I certainly respect all your viewpoints and arguments.

  3. I wrote this post, hoping for some good discussion and some alternate points of view. The responses have been very informative.

    @Walshie – Thanks for those points, I think that you are right in saying the WC will force the city to invest in infrastructure. It’s a pity they won’t do it without being forced!

    @FIFA 2010 – Thanks for that very comprehensive comment. It’s obvious that you are either involved in the project or have done far more research than I have. Admittedly, my thoughts were based on newspaper and verbal reports.

    I have read the whole comment and you make some good points. A few questions/comments came to mind while I was reading it but I need more time to formulate a proper response. I will post another comment on this over the weekend.

  4. walshie

    WOW – thanks for a great response, FIFA 2010… I’m gonna have to show your comment to my wife (one of the many WC doubters!) She won’t listen to my arguments, so maybe she’ll listen to yours… 😉

  5. FIFA 2010

    Walshie, its really all about the bigger picture and how Cape Town fits into the global scheme of things. I detest the notion that FIFA is a random stupid organization with no experience in hosting World Cups.

  6. FIFA 2010

    Oh and to all of the readers, I would like to start a “We back the stadium”, group or association. If anyone knows how to start a good website at a good cost, please let me know.

  7. I don’t think that anyone thinks that “FIFA is a random stupid organization with no experience in hosting World Cups”, but I suspect (and maybe I am too cynical) that FIFA puts FIFA and the World Cup first even if that is to the detriment of the host nation/city.

    There are massive amounts of money involved, and time has proven when that is the case that the ‘little people’ get trampled.

  8. FIFA 2010

    I definitely agree, but the investments related to the stadium will benefit all.
    In terms of sustainable jobs, increased tourism, better public transport to and from the city. We are able to achieve our goals both to improve the lives of our citizens and at the same time, increase the investment flowing into our city and the profile of our city. We should not underestimate the benefit of tourism in creating even more jobs.

    A few years ago we were all psyched with R5bn investment in our CBD area from woodstock to greenpoint. Today we’re talking R24bn!

  9. walshie

    Hey FIFA 2010 – if you’re looking for a way to start a cheap website, go to http://wordpress.com and start a blog… you can pick a name and a site template and hey presto you’re ready to go… unless of course you want your own domain name, then you better get in touch with http://www.webnow.co.za and they’ll register a domain name and host your site for you at very little cost… (I think it starts at R19/month). Good luck and let us know when the site is up & running…

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