Friday, 17 June 2011

The Lost Legacy Fund: Fifa Still Owe South Africa R550m After Record World Cup

One year after the World Cup’s big kick-off at Soccer City, South Africans are still waiting for any sign of the £50million (R550million) promised by FIFA’s 2010 Legacy Programme.

While recently re-elected president Sepp Blatter glides serenely into a fourth term in charge boasting of FIFA’s record £1.24bn (R12billion) profit from a superb 2010 tournament in the Rainbow Nation, the money he promised as a legacy after Africa’s first World Cup – which FIFA said would benefit grass roots football as well as education, health and social projects – remains unpaid.

Fund spokesman Greg Fredericks confirmed: "None of the £50million has been spent - not one cent. The money is still in Zurich. The delay is simply down to the amount of time it takes to establish legally recognised bodies for handling this amount of money."

Blatter, 75, unveiled his much-hyped fund in December 2010, insisting: "We always said the first World Cup on African soil should leave a lasting legacy. We trusted South Africa and that trust was well founded.

“Fifa are not a circus where we pitch our tent and remove them when the event is over. Fifa will leave a lasting legacy for the youth of South Africa thanks to this successful World Cup.

"This fund is also a reward for South Africans for having been such great hosts. We always said that the first World Cup on African soil should leave a lasting sports and social legacy. This trust is yet another concrete achievement in this area."

Although the £60m fund, administered by accountants Ernst and Young, is reserved for a wide range of public benefit initiatives, Blatter confirmed that only £10m had been actually been used - to build the extravagant South Africa Football Association (SAFA) building next to the Soccer City, where Spain beat Holland to lift their first World Cup last July.

South African president, Jacob Zuma said at the time: "We wanted a World Cup that would contribute to social cohesion and national pride that would enhance African solidarity and improve the country's global reputation. Our expectations were exceeded.

"Now remains the difficult but most important task of ensuring a lasting legacy and to build world-class national teams both at youth and senior level. This legacy trust is an important contribution towards that goal."

With FIFA still reeling over bribery claims surrounding Blatter’s unopposed re-election and the decision to give Qatar the 2022 World Cup, Britain’s best selling tabloid The Sun quotes shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Ivan Lewis as saying: "This is another example of poor leadership. South Africa faces many challenges and FIFA should release the money as a matter of urgency."

Labour MP Michael Dugher added: "FIFA is a shameful shambles. It made a vast sum from South Africa and has a duty to plough that money back as soon as possible."

The High Court has to rubber-stamp the setting up of a trust to decide how to distribute the remaining cash. Best estimates predict a further five-month wait for any pay-out from the Legacy fund – while the cash remains in FIFA’s Swiss bank accounts gaining interest.

The Sun also quotes lawyer Richard Spoor - representing locals in Matsafeni, where the 41,000-seater Mbombela Stadium was built on land belonging to the local people – as saying: "Even now there's no adequate water supply and the living conditions are totally unsanitary.

"The roads are unpaved and there's no proper sewage system. The conditions are unhealthy and frankly quite deplorable."

Who on earth is Neal Collins (nealcol on Twitter)? See

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