THE WORLD may not end when the World Cup does, but even the tournament’s chief evangelist fears a hefty hangover could kick in next Monday morning.
And not just for those enjoying the special ‘locals’ prices’ in South Africa’s throbbing pubs and bars.
In city centres such as Pretoria and Johannesburg, foreigners are typically being charged three times as much for their drinks throughout the World Cup.
Locals, on the other hand, have been gifted ‘loyalty cards’, allowing them to escape any World Cup mark-up.
In keeping with the event’s hail-fellow-well-met vibe, however, many simply lend them to foreign guests at the bar – though with crucial words of advice.
It’s not enough to simply flourish a magic ticket – you have to be wise enough to order in Afrikaans.
Providing a warm welcome to the world has been no problem, but cannily and understandably cashing in at the same time has proved more of a challenge.
Estimates of World Cup visitor numbers, economic benefits and newly-created jobs have been flying around as haphazardly as a first-week Jabulani, and varying as dramatically as a Paraguayan team-sheet.
Latest claims suggest 1million new people entered the country in the last three months, up 25 per cent on the same period last year.
Yet those here just for the football are thought to number just 300,000 or so, forecasts having steadily fallen from the original 500,000 expected.
Pre-World Cup predictions had suggested 415,000 new jobs would be created and £4.8billion raised.
The South African government’s own £4billion infrastructure investment programme has inevitably been given a World Cup focus.
The transport, telecoms and security benefits should at least prove longer-lasting – and better-used – than the more remote and over-sized new stadia such as Nelspruit or Polokwane.
And the competition has certainly done much for the country’s confidence and morale, providing an intangible feelgood factor that has inevitably fuelled talk of a Durban Olympics bid for 2020 or 2024.
But Monday morning could bring an emotional comedown, even ahead of the damaging practical effects of the World Cup circus packing up and jetting off.
Even Danny Jordaan, the organising committee’s chief executive and leading campaigner for a South African World Cup since 1994, admits: ‘For a while we will be depressed.
‘But we can hold our heads high, knowing we have surpassed all expectations.’
Amid the more eye-popping warnings from campaigners, thousands could be added to the country’s already-growing jobless lists as the World Cup bubble bursts.
And senior politicians – including United Nations leaders and the Nelson Mandela Foundation – fear mounting unrest and rivalry for work could spark a new wave of deadly xenophobic attacks.
Many people have been working on fixed-term projects such as the new World Cup stadia only just finished in time or the £2.2billion Johannesburg-Pretoria ‘Gautrain’ railway.
There have already been complaints about local firms being frozen out of producing memorabilia, with contracts instead going overseas.
Street vendors have also faced crackdowns due to deals with sponsors including Budweiser and Adidas.
Yet not everyone will be frantically pounding calculators, working out just how beneficial this tournament might have been beyond ‘merely’ the (eventually) exciting football.
Football’s world governing body Fifa knows it should pocket £2.1billion in profits, having already boasted of sitting on a £131million surplus.
Trebles all round!
PARIS Hilton can perhaps count herself lucky – some coming before the ruthless ‘World Cup courts’ have been handed lengthy jail sentences for even ‘minor’ offences such as possessing the drug ‘dagga’.
Then again, it was quite some feat for anyone or thing in the Port Elizabeth stadium that day to prove even dumber – and higher – than Robin Van Persie’s free-kick.
Some suggest what really got Jennifer Rovero into trouble is the fact dagga just isn’t an approved Official Sponsor drug of the 2010 FIFA World Cup ™.