World Cup 2010: Africa’s turn or the turn on Africa?
The awarding of 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. After tracing the politics around South Africa’s involvement in FIFA, this essay critically interrogates the benefits touted for South Africa and Africa: development for the SADC region, economic opportunities for ordinary South Africans, increased tourism in South Africa, and football development and peace and nation‐building across the continent. Will the World Cup, as Thabo Mbeki would like, be the moment ‘when Africa stood tall and resolutely turned the tide on centuries of poverty and conflict?’