As the World Cup Ends, Reality Sets In

Although the World Cup may be old news to many in the U.S., replaced by the drama of sports events such as the Tour de France, the death of former Yankees baseball team owner, George Steinbrenner, and even the National League’s win of the Major League All-Star Game, transition back to “normalcy” after the World Cup will not be as smooth for the nations of South Africa, the Netherlands, or Spain–the host country and the tournament’s top finishers.
 
As fans and players leave South Africa, the site of the first World Cup on the continent, the country prepares for a transition back to life, pre-World Cup. In a country of 48 million, an estimated 130,000 jobs were created by the tournament, many in construction.  However, these jobs were only temporary, and as they fade away, it’s possible South Africa will plummet back to the 25% unemployment rate, that was “normal” prior to the tournament.  In South Africa, “normal” conditions also include large wealth gaps between rich and poor, and limited access to basic services for much of the population.  As the World Cup fervor dies down, many fear that the same national unity and enthusiasm mustered for the World Cup will not be sustained enough to bring long-term prosperity to the country.
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But not all of the prosperity gained from the World Cup is leaving with the football fans.  The South African government invested billions of dollars in infrastructure and construction that will benefit the development of the country in the long term.  As South Africa’s finance minister, Pravin Gordhan said, “Once you build a road, it doesn’t disappear once the World Cup ends.”

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