By Ollie Irish
An aerial view of the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. The photo was taken this morning, one day before the World Cup kicks off.
What a beautiful setting for a stunning new stadium. I feel very, very privileged that I will get the chance to watch England play Algeria there next week.
Some words of caution though, provided by the Guardian’s Jonathan Glancey in a piece first published on 30 May:
“Not everyone wants to like Green Point, or indeed any of the other new stadiums. Fahrenheit 2010, a recent documentary by Australian film-maker Craig Tanner, has been highly critical of Green Point and its siblings. Tanner believes the entire project has been a waste of money that will lead South Africa into serious debt.
“The late Dennis Brutus, the veteran anti-apartheid campaigner jailed with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island and one of Tanner’s interviewees, argues on screen that: ‘When you build enormous stadiums, you [are] shifting resources … from building schools or hospitals and then you have these huge structures standing empty. They become white elephants.’
“This is an age-old concern, reinforced by the questionable legacy of ambitious sporting venues built for World Cups and Olympics over the last 60 years. Struggling with its economy and yet attempting to woo 450,000 foreign tourists this summer, South Africa hopes its new stadiums will make the leap to first-rate venues for sport, music and other mass gatherings when the Fifa circus has moved on.”
And Green Point has been built far from the townships of Cape Town, so you wonder how much value it can provide to football-loving locals (most of whom dwell in the townships). Let’s hope the ‘white elephant’ tag doesn’t apply in this case.