So when the players and fans speed along the motorway from the renovated Cape Town airport to their plush hotels, past the squatter settlements where more than a million people live, there is nothing new in this stark juxtaposition of wealth and poverty. What is new is the scale of the returns that the World Cup will generate from ticket sales, television rights and sponsorship, and the scale of the cynicism with which politicians and businessmen exploit the passion of fans.
The business of football is an incestuous affair. Phillipe Blatter, the nephew of Sepp Blatter, is a major investor in a company called Match Hospitality. This firm booked one third of all available hotel accommodations ahead of the tournament. It planned to let the rooms at 10 times the cost price to the hordes of football fans that were expected.
The FIFA zone has taken on the character of a country within a country. It has even laid claim to the South African national flag for the duration of the tournament. Full story...