The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is the largest and most prestigious competition in national football, or soccer, as it is called in the United States. Held every four years, the competition is open to all countries enlisted within FIFA with a men’s national team. The location of the World Cup is changed every four years, and is decided by a ballot system, held by the members of FIFA’s council.
One topic of particular interest is to consider the effects of a major event such as the World Cup. Both South Africa and Brazil have recently hosted the FIFA World Cup. It can have both a positive and a negative influence on the nation. As a case study, we will look at these nations that have recently hosted, and the gains and consequences of their hospitality.
The first way that South Africans gained from hosting the World Cup is the building up and improvement of infrastructure. As Reiners said: “The road improvements were especially welcome, and as a result, in some areas it is now much easier to get around” (Alegi & Bolsmann, 2013). Investing in infrastructure can be difficult for developing nations to do. There is a lot of consideration that goes into the logistics of new infrastructure, but it is crucial for the continued development of the nation. The second positive after-effect of the FIFA World Cup on South Africa was that it opened South Africa up to the world. It allowed people to see what South Africa was truly like, and change some preconceptions of the nation. The mass television coverage and increased amount of visitors undoubtedly increased tourism to the area during the World Cup, and presumably after the World Cup had ended.
There were also some negative effects of hosting an event of this magnitude. The first ramification was FIFA’s attitude towards South Africa. “Jerome Valcke [FIFA General Secretary] told a full session of parliament that this was not South Africa’s World Cup, it was FIFA’s World Cup, which South Africa just happened to be hosting.” (Maubane, of Part 4, p219, 2013). This attitude was unexpected from such a large, prestigious organization. This was seen a patronizing to the country.
Another impact that can be considered negative overall was the economic impact that the World Cup had on South Africa. During the construction phase the need for new stadiums and infrastructure created jobs for South African workers. During this time, the economic situation of the country was seen to improve, as there were more people in employment and less people claiming state benefits. After the fact, however, this seems to only have being a temporary fix to South Africa’s economic issues, as the construction workers were again out of jobs after the World Cup, and no long-term jobs had been created. Even while the construction was ongoing, there was talks of strikes and restlessness among workers, who felt that they were being underpaid (Alegi & Bolsmann, 2013). The stadiums were built in the richer parts of the country, while the poorer parts of some cities were forgotten about, and some even relocated in order to build stadiums on top of their homes; Dladla said in his contribution to the book written on the 2010 World Cup: “The World Cup took place in the First World parts of South African cities, while the Third World parts were left on the periphery, at best to serve as tourist attractions” (Dladla, from p219, 2013)
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil seemed to leave behind a legacy on the same kind seen four years earlier in South Africa. Improvement and upgrades to the countries infrastructure were quickly developed to enable the country to deal with a large influx of tourists. Christopher Gaffney, an expert on South American major sporting events, said: “The investments included airport upgrades, communication lines, security port renovations, hotels, tourist infrastructure, and urban mobility projects” (2014).
There was a lot of TV coverage that increased Brazil’s appeal to the tourism sector during the World Cup, and during the event alone over 3 million people were expected to visit the country, and invest over 6 billion Brazilian Real back into the economy.
There were also negative aspects, however. During the actual event, the country stood still; known as a nation with a large love of football, the majority of Brazilians took time off work and even skipped work completely to watch their team compete: “Brazilian productivity was disastrous during the event, and negative second quarter growth has ignited rumors of recession” (Gaffney, 2014). Secondly, the economic cost of building and maintaining the country to the standard expected by FIFA was extremely high, and so therefore to regain finances the ticket costs were higher than expected, which led to frustration from Brazilians who could not afford them on their wages: “Ticket prices have risen by more than 250 percent in five years, making them the most expensive in the world when compared to minimum wage” (Gaffney, 2014). Many Brazilians took menial jobs to get close to the action, and as such were not able to enjoy the experience that they had been priced out of in their own country: “Most visitors had a great experience…the same cannot be said for the millions of Brazilians cleaning the toilets, working as stewards and security guards, recycling beer cans or being shaken down by the police” (Gaffney, 2014).
- Alegi, P., & Bolsmann, C. (Eds.). (2013). Africa’s World Cup: critical reflections on play, patriotism, spectatorship, and space. University of Michigan Press.
- Alegi, P., Dladla, T., Maubane, M., & Reiners, R. (2013). Forum on the 2010 World Cup: Perspectives from South African Practitioners. In Alegi P. & Bolsmann C. (Eds.), Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space (pp. 219-234). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Gaffney, C. (2014). Global Parties, Galactic Hangovers: Brazil’s Mega Event Dystopia – Los Angeles Review of Books. Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 5 July 2017, from https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/global-parties-galactic-hangovers-brazils-mega-event-dystopia/