Anyone remember during the 2006 World Cup in Germany how there were whispers that South Africa might not be ready to host its own World Cup by 2010? Concerns about construction delays, the political mess the country is in and an overall lack of security had most of the soccer world worried. Well, we’re currently less than a year from the opening kickoff and hey, check it out, more major issues.
Yesterday roughly 70,000 workers dropped their tools and went on strike all over South Africa over a pay dispute. The workers are seeking a 13 percent pay raise, while officials have countered with just a 10.4 percent bump.
If the strike persists for a substantial length of time it could put the timetable for construction of three major stadiums in serious jeopardy. The 94,000 seat Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg – which will be the showpiece stadium of the event – as well as stadiums in Cape Town and Durban are already facing a race against time to be finished by December (FIFA’s mandated deadline) and the strike puts even more pressure on the organizers.
Six new stadiums are being built for the 2010 Cup and four others are being modernized, while a huge group of other projects are still underway to improve South Africa’s infrastructure to help deal with the nearly half a million people expected to attend the event.
Lesiba Seshoka, who represents the striking construction workers said the union was not worried about the completion of the stadiums, that was for the organizers to worry about.
The unions have complained that some workers are earning just $1.50 an hour, and some others just $5 a week. South African workers are supposed to earn a minimum of about $200 a month.
The recent Confederations Cup went off virtually without a hitch, giving the impression that the country would be ready when the world heads there next June. Well, apparently there are still major issues.
In the unlikely event that FIFA declares South Africa not fit to host the 2010 World Cup, Germany, England and the United States have been presented as alternative sites that could be ready to host immediately because of the abundance of available stadiums.