By J. DeVoy
South Africa is a nation long plagued by strife and difficulty, and still today it has one of the highest crime rates in the world. The country has had tremendous difficulties preparing for this year’s World Cup in Johannesburg, which almost seems like a cruel joke the Fédérdation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) played on the struggling state.
One reason why they may have done it: member nations could profit off the instability. By painting feel-good stories about the importance of the World Cup to South Africa, the true costs of the project have been hidden, as well as the identities of those who profit from the event. Merely insuring the event will bring $9 billion in policy fees to insurers in more developed nations. Although the current financial crisis and need for liquidity by these agencies wasn’t obvious in 2004 when South Africa was announced as the event’s host, its long-standing instability was no secret then, and the likelihood of profit was high, even on just this one front.
It sounds like a conspiracy theory until one digs deeper and realizes that FIFA has been accused of exactly this behavior. Excepting America, the countries with the largest insurers are quite active in FIFA, and rational outsiders to football culture such as Wall Street could be convinced to see the financial benefit from having the event in the least developed location possible, as all varieties of debt, credit and equity would be necessary to make the infrastructure improvements needed for the competition to occur. Those who would dismiss this as an errant deed of FIFA or an isolated symptom of transitory bad leadership are foolish to ignore the entire culture of corruption in international sporting organizations, as the International Olympic Committee was recently busted for similar conduct spanning many years.