x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Calls for more transparency on World Cup funds

It is impossible to say exactly how much money South Africa has spent in preparation for the World Cup.

It is impossible to say exactly how much money South Africa has spent in preparation for the World Cup. The national government's budget totals ZAR33.6 billion (Dh16.5 bn). On top of that, there have been contributions from local and provincial governments, which are not collated centrally. The tournament has accelerated spending on a host of indirectly related infrastructure projects; Durban has a new airport, those at Johannesburg and Cape Town have new terminals, rapid transit bus systems have been built, and a high-speed rail line now links Johannesburg to its airport, to be extended to Pretoria in the future.

"The event was seen as a catalyst for investment in such projects," said a spokesman for the finance ministry, which describes 2010 as "a defining moment" for the country. But with so much money involved, so much at stake, and such urgency involved, "opaque decision-making and the dearth of publicly available information all contribute to an environment conducive to conflicts of interest and corruption", according to the Institute of Security Studies, a think-tank.

"There is mounting discussion in South Africa's body politic about the increase in conflicts of interest and corruption in the public sphere," wrote Collette Schulz Herzenberg, editor of the report, titled Player and Referee. "Greater transparency is critical," Herzenberg added. sport@thenational.ae