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.
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.”
Dutch Celebrate 2nd Place Victory On Amsterdam’s Freshwater Canal Network
The Dutch celebrated their second place finish in the World Cup by
partying along the web of Amsterdam’s famous canals, as the Netherlands
soccer team led a parade on a flotilla. Many smaller boats of dancing
fans, blaring music, joined the parade down the canals. Several
celebrators jumped into the Brouwersgracht Canal, despite warnings from
authorities of everything from E.coli bacteria and sunken bicycles to
shopping carts that could be lurking in the water.
”I expected some people to come, but this is unbelievable,” said
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk. ”Can you imagine what it would
have been like if we’d won?”
Spain Enjoys World Cup Victory as Distraction to Political and Economic Problems
In the country that did win the World Cup, the streets of Madrid were
flooded with hundreds of thousands of fans clad in red, providing some
distraction to Spain’s underlying economic crisis and a jobless rate
close to 20%.
Spain’s World Cup victory also helped to unite Spaniards at a time of
political distress over whether or not the region of Catalonia will be
granted regional autonomy. More than half of Spain’s starting players
are billed to play for Barcelona, Catalonia’s most prominent soccer
Although Monday wasn’t an official holiday, almost everyone in Spain
seemed to consider it one. Celebrating Spain’s first World Cup win
took some Spanish minds off of the growing economic deficit and
political strife. But as the euphoria of the World Cup win wears off,
Spain has a difficult reality to return to.