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South Africa sells out World Cup tickets

Residents angry at FIFA restrictions and question if they will benefit from the tournament.

In the report, “Player and Referee: Conflicting interests and the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” published in April by the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, is a book written by six investigative journalists that uncovers some of the back-room dealings in the run-up to Africa's first World Cup. The report alleges that officials indulged in questionable business practices including overpricing of services for visitors.

It charges that a lack of transparency in business dealings between the government, FIFA and the private sector made corrupt practices commonplace. For instance it charges that proper procedures were not followed in awarding the tender to build the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg where the opening match will be played.

Throughout the country there is widespread discontent with FIFA and how the sports extravaganza has been sold to a country that will struggle to pay for it.

At the Cape Town Press Club this week, author and investigative reporter Andrew Jennings talked about corruption in FIFA. His book, “Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals” exposes many of FIFA's practices.

Jennings suggests that FIFA operates like an organized crime set-up and he quotes from past a FIFA court case pressed by VISA and MasterCard, who alleged in their Manhattan court statement that “any company should have grave concerns about doing business with FIFA ... [where] lying and deception and bad faith are standard operating procedure.”

But David Wilt — homeless and standing next to a sidewalk fire can to stay warm in the morning rain — wondered how he will benefit from the World Cup. Wilt said he has been on the street for three months living in front of the place from which he was evicted, a scant hundred feet from Ellis Park Stadium.

"All the people of this area, they won't benefit, but the rich people will. Sepp Blatter (president of FIFA) does not want to see us, so they will clean us up off the street,” he said, and his friends mutter in agreement as they feed another piece of cardboard into the fire. "We have no hope."