01 June 2023 | 04:36 AM

Public loss, Fifa’s gain

Key Takeaways

It was Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s first visit to the Mother City, but he knew exactly what he wanted from her.

When Ebrahim Rasool, then premier of the Western Cape, went to see Blatter at the five-star Arabella Sheraton Hotel on November 22 2005, the visitor complimented Cape Town’s “spectacular scenery”, saying the city could be the “face” of 2010 and host one of two semifinal matches.

He came to the point: the city’s match venue should be at Green Point and not Newlands Stadium as envisaged when South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup 18 months earlier, or Athlone Stadium, favoured by the province and the city for its developmental potential. A brand new stadium.

Later that day Blatter met with Thabo Mbeki. What the Fifa president and the country’s then president discussed can be inferred from a call Rasool received the next day …


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This article was commissioned by the Institute for Security Studies Corruption and Governance Programme as part of a wider study. The institute’s full report is at www.ipocafrica.org.

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Caroline James

Caroline joined amaBhungane in 2022. As a lawyer Caroline’s interests are in freedom of expression, access to information and state accountability and has sought to weave those interests together in her work and academic study. She has BA (Honours) and LLB degrees from Wits University and an MA from Queen’s University in Canada where her thesis was on inconsistent global standards on accountability for corruption. Caroline has worked at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Corruption Watch and consulted for the Open Contracting Partnership.

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