Is it not time to organise to challenge the transformation of global football into a form of global apartheid? Will the World Cup provide a platform to confront unequal power relations in global soccer which progressively underdevelop African soccer? African participation in FIFA has illustrated that sport provides an opportunity for raising the banner of the political struggles of oppressed peoples. Can World Cup 2010 prove a catalyst to challenge the way global football is run? And, if so, where will that challenge come from and what will be its central demands? Joseph Blatter is insistent that, "South Africa needs a perfect organisation to show the world it is possible to do it here". For Blatter, the World Cup gets reduced to a technical operation. But, as this essay has shown, the World Cup is much more than that. It is also about a particular economic model that serves particular interests and reinforces existing power elations. It is precisely this that FIFA wishes to have removed from the public sphere and which needs to be brought into the public domain.
The awarding of soccer World Cup 2010 to South Africa was hailed as a great "victory" for the African continent and the cause of much celebration. It heightened expectations not only about the spectacle itself but about the benefits that would accrue to South Africa and the rest of Africa. This essay examines the notion of the successful bid as an "African victory" in the context of global power relations in football, South Africa's alleged function as a sub-imperialist power on the continent, and xenophobic attacks on African immigrants in South Africa.
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This essay examines the notion of the successful bid as an "African victory" in the context of the global political economy of football as well as South Africa's often fraught relationship with Africa. It briefly traces the politics around the relationship of South Africa, the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) and the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), before examining the language and tenor of the World Cup bid and its supposed benefits for Africa. What does Africa stand to gain from World Cup 2010 to warrant its billing as a pan-African event that will "provide a powerful, irresistible momentum to [the] African renaissance"?