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Visualising Modernity: Development Hopes and the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Inspired by writings in critical geopolitics and development studies, this paper explores the visual dimensions of the relationship between football and development through analysis of the 2010 FIFA World Cup (FWC) in South Africa. The aim is to show how futuristic notions of ‘football now, development later’ rely on two visible icons of hope, namely spectacle (football tournaments and festivals) and infrastructure (mainly football stadiums but also public transport to a lesser extent). These are the visual aspects of an outward-oriented development model aiming to boost foreign investment and tourism by attracting media attention, showcasing modernity, and circulating positive images of Africa to the world. The achievement of these objectives is demonstrably limited by two principal factors. One is the nature of media coverage of South Africa. The second is the nature of the underlying modernist development model, which does not offer a recipe for the eventual human development promised by the South African state.