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Reviewed by:
  • Development and Dreams: the urban legacy of the 2010 football World Cup
  • Julian Azzopardi (bio)
Udesh Pillay, Richard Tomlinson and Orli Bass (eds) (2009). Development and Dreams: the urban legacy of the 2010 football World Cup. Cape Town: HSRC Press


The FIFA 2010 World Cup (WC) to be held in South Africa between June 11 and July 11 has already netted FIFA over US $3 billion, exceeding net revenues from the 2006 World cup by some 25 per cent whilst costing the South African government over ZAR 25 billion.1 With an estimated 3 million supporters watching matches from within the new stadiums or the bustling fan parks, the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been dubbed as the largest footballing event in the history of the game.

Sport and specifically football has played a significant role in South Africa's history and transition from the era of segregation and separate development. As Alegi says, 'football matters to the people' (2004:1) in more ways than one: From an expression of political and social discontent fighting segregation and isolation, representing cultures and constructing social identities, to exploring new opportunities, and personal improvements, football carries the hopes and dreams of many South Africans and Africans alike, of unity, hope and prosperity. The successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, its impact on the lives of those participating and those watching therefore resonates far beyond the footprint of the stadia and deep into the dreams of an entire nation. For some it represents the pinnacle of South Africa's transition process towards international recognition and acceptance – given its history of segregation – as providing a 'lasting social and economic legacy for South Africa and the rest of the African continent' (Makgabo 2006: 1). [End Page 103]

The book Development and Dreams – the urban legacy of the 2010 football World Cup is therefore a welcome addition to the debate, albeit belated in the course of events. Considering the country had already attempted to host the 2006 tournament and kick-off just under a year away from the book's publication, its value, whilst undoubtedly important, is somewhat dampened by the fact that it could have provided a more than welcome and useful contribution to the preparations of the tournament when still in the early phase of conceptualisation and development. Nonetheless, editors Udesh Pillay, Richard Tomlinson and Orli Bass, have compiled an important piece of work, bringing together a series of essays penned by 17 academics and practitioners in the field of urban development, economic policy, geography, tourism, local government and social policy. It is a cautionary wake-up call to fairly tackle the many questions and aspirations surrounding the organisation of sport's largest showpiece to date.

The 2010 WC: what kind of legacy and for whom?

In the introduction, government's intentions to 'leverage the World Cup to assist in promoting economic development and halving unemployment by 2014' (Tomlinson et al: 3) is presented as one of the book's key bones of contention. This is especially evident in the discussions on the 'sobering economic perspectives' of the nature and extent of investments undertaken in preparation for the event by du Plessis and Maennig in chapter 4; poverty reduction as expressed by Pillay and Bass in chapter 5; housing (Bénit-Gbaffou, chapter 11) and, urban identity in the cases of Johannesburg and Durban by Czeglédy and Bass (chapters 12 and 13 respectively). In addition, the fulfilment of a host nation's obligations under strict FIFA rules has revamped discussions on the appropriateness of the macro/micro-economic choices taken by – and benefitting - a few at the top of the food chain, whilst the burden of the cost is shouldered by the 'citizen of the empire or subject of the imperial colony' (Czeglédy: 286). Concepts that juggle concerns over the emergence of a relationship between the South African government and FIFA equal to a form of colonialism of a special type – embodied by FIFA's quasi-autonomous determination of how the tournament should be organised and run – and, the embedding of the neoliberal model to regenerate economic development at the expense of crucial social interventions.

As Tomlinson states...


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pp. 103-108
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