Johannesburg's refugees could fill up ten Stadiums like Green Point
South Africa, the first African country to host the football World Cup, has more than 700.000 refugees, coming mainly from Zimbabwe, but also from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia. During the last 2009 quarter, the number of immigrants in South Africa has tripled. The country has gone from 270.671 refugees and asylum applicants at the end of 2008, to a total of 751.273 in October 2009. The average is around 5.000 new applications presented monthly to authorities.
Applications for temporary asylum for six months are being issued while the refugee condition application is being processed. It is possible that after this period and with the World Cup over, they will lose their legal status in the country and there will be no job opportunities, so they will be forced to return to their countries of origin. Possibilities of massive citizen returns are real, especially of citizens from Zimbabwe.
"We are not worried about the World Cup, we are worried of what will happen after wards" says Pablo Funes, Entreculturas project staff member for South Africa. Cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria or Cape Town have modernized or newly built stadiums and developed their communications system. Meanwhile, almost 550.000 migrants live in the surrounding areas, with the fear of having no papers, with difficulties for job opportunities, sanitary facilities and even fearing for their safety.
Because with the excuse of new jobs, tourism and the opening to the world of a country rejected because of a racist regime like the apartheid, South Africa is leaving aside a great part of its players. Those who make up the bulk of its society and the less glamorous numbers. Those who suffer being part of a country with one of the highest unemployment rates and death because of AIDS: precisely those who cannot afford to pay for the game tickets.