While the world focused its attention at Ellis Park for the highly anticipated match between perennial favorites Brazil and the unknown North Korean side, hundreds of South Africans were staging a protest just outside the stadium gates.
Hundreds of workers for a subcontractor that deals with the security at the grounds staged a protest regarding the lack of payment they have received for the work they have so far put in, threatening to boycott the then upcoming Brazil match.
Protesters are claiming they were told they would receive $500 Rands, just under $65 U.S. Dollars per day, but payments by the subcontractor have been at $190 Rands, or $25 U.S. Dollars a day.
The protesters number around 500, and they have been singing, engaging police, and creating a general loud raucous to draw attention to the situation.
South African police and FIFA are moving swiftly to quiet the crowd and refocus the attention on the matches.
A protester who wished to remain anonymous has been quoted as saying, “We have worked two days here (Ellis Park) and two days at Soccer City and it is a minimum 16 hours a day we have worked.”
Others claim they have endured freezing temperatures to properly demonstrate the ability South Africa has to organize a worldwide event.
Similar protests have taken place in Cape Town and Durban, two other host cities for the World Cup.
The match between Italy and Paraguay began on time, but a large number of fans had to wait outside of the stadium for an hour before local police assumed control of security for the stadium.
The company in charge of providing the security during the matches has considered the proposal sent by protesters and has called off any negotiations.
They were assisted by Cape Town police who sent 1,500 trainees to replace the 500 or so South African workers who were protesting.
While the situation prior to the Brazil-North Korea match was controlled outside of the stadium, Sunday’s match in Durbin, between Italy and Paraguay, saw its protest display from inside stadium grounds.
In that occasion, local police were forced to fire rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash grenades into the groups of protesters. Police have henceforth taken over the security aspect in five of ten venues hosting games for the World Cup.
This is a horrible situation for FIFA and South Africa and it is no surprise that both are keeping mum on the subject.
FIFA made it very clear how this World Cup would help lift the nation closer out of poverty by bringing a massive influx of tourism and global attention towards the flowering nation of South Africa.
Unemployed people were given the chance to work and participate in something that was bigger than them or the game.
FIFA, however, has not learned from BP, and is not trying to help the situation by doing what is right but by doing what is right for their bottom line.
These people were told they would make about $65 a day for a 16-hour work day, which itself is ridiculously low, and are only receiving $25 for the same amount of work.
No mathematician is needed to see that they are being paid slightly more than one dollar an hour.
Can FIFA really not find those $40 to pay the local people?
How many billions of dollars are they funneling in towards themselves with no attempt to actually help the local economical situation?
They forced the closure of hundreds of small bars and restaurants within a certain vicinity of the stadiums, due to the fact the business was not able to afford the application to FIFA to become an “official” location showing the matches.
FIFA, its only $40 dollars for God’s sake, and these people are starving, freezing, and for what? Welcoming the world to their homes?
All FIFA can do is send riot police to silence the crowd of workers who aren’t asking for much at all.
This story is more meaningful than the game and must be addressed with the utmost urgency.