Developing a country's "brand" is one of a variety of intangible advantages that not only will be garnered by South Africa, but for any other nation chosen to host the World Cup as well. An event of this magnitude will build both the image and the identity of the host country. There is also the benefit of publicly displaying, for the world, a country's capabilities, expertise, and modern infrastructure. This can be a significant aid in attracting other events in the future, whether they be other types of sporting events, or corporation events, or industry-sponsored events -- establishing the country as a business tourism destination. For South Africa, and other areas where security is often a concern of travelers, events like the World Cup will serve as an opportunity to not only upgrade safety and security measures, but then also to showcase these measures to the world, enhancing their tourism message ("Business tourism," 2008). According to Goolam Ballim, Standard Bank economist, for South Africa, hosting the World Cup will help change perceptions foreign investors may have concerning South Africa (cited "2010 FIFA," 2009). The same holds true for any nation privileged to be chosen as a host. Despite these advantages, there are disadvantages to hosting the FIFA World Cup as well.
Disadvantages to Hosting the World Cup
Sturgess and Brady (2006) note that the literature concerning whether or not it is advantageous to host an international sporting event, like the World Cup, is quite divided. Although many researchers have found a significant economic boost, one of the primary advantages for hosting an event of this magnitude, there are a number of extremely pessimistic pieces of literature, according to Sturgess and Brady, that indicate that hosting an event like the World Cup has only a negligible effect on the economic growth of the host country, and sometimes a negative impact.
There is also the potential disadvantage of the long-lasting effect should the event not go well for a host city. If the enormous capacity of the World Cup event is not well-managed, the host may see not only potential future travelers not making their city a destination, but also regular travelers may look elsewhere to host their future events ("Business tourism," 2008). This is a significant risk for any city, given the sheer logistics of hosting an event of this scale. For the United States, this risk is especially important.
Hundreds of cities around the United States are vying for the attention and business of conventions, trade shows and sporting events. Taking on an event like the FIFA World Cup could either establish an American city as 'the place' to host a large event, or have it become infamous for its failure to properly handle event planning. Although security concerns are not the same as those found in South Africa, American cities would also have significant security concerns. From simple pick pocketing to full scale terrorism, crime escalates during an event like this. This one facet could make or break the entire event, and with it the city's future hopes of attracting other events. In addition, just as there are benefits that a city will enjoy once the World Cup has come and gone, there are also disadvantages too.
As Sturgess and Brady (2006) note, one disadvantage is the cost of maintaining facilities that were built for the event itself. One only has to look at South Africa to see what a significant cost this can be. South Africa is building or majorly renovating ten facilities for the 2010 World Cup. Certainly these facilities will be used during the series of games; however, what about once the World Cup is over. In America, where although soccer has a moderate following, it has nowhere near the following of other national sports -- like the NFL -- and therefore all of the facilities needed to host such a large, international sporting event are not really needed once the event is over. These venues may sit unused, or only partially used. The city will incur the continuing expenses of these facilities, such as maintenance, and the quantity of future events may not offset the costs of the upkeep. This has happened with Olympic facilities that have not been fully utilized, once the Olympics left town. In other areas of the world where soccer is the sport of choice, new soccer facility creation may be sustainable; however, in the United States, that may not be the case. It is likely that this is one reason why the United States has only hosted one World Cup ("Previous," 2009).
Although soccer is a globally enjoyed sport, for the United States, it does not have the following that the sport does in some areas of the world. One only has to look at the differences between the 91 million fans that watched the Super Bowl vs. The 17.5 million that watched the World Cup, to see the significant difference in popularity. However, the potential for hosting such a large, international event is an attractive possibility for many cities. Just like hosting any large sporting event, there are both benefits and disadvantages should an American city pursue hosting a FIFA World Cup.
Two primary advantages come to mind immediately when discussing the benefits of hosting the World Cup are prestige and economic reasons. The World Cup is one of the premier sporting events in the world. Being chosen to host the event is an honor and a privilege. There are certainly potential economic benefits as well. Millions of visitors may come to the event. It also offers the host an opportunity to build their brand as a tourist and business destination. For some countries, it can also encourage foreign investment, post-World Cup. New infrastructure, tax revenues, an economic boost to possible areas of decline, all are potential benefits of hosting a World Cup. However, there are disadvantages as well.
The economic benefits may only negligibly outweigh the enormous costs in getting a city ready for a sporting event on the magnitude of the World Cup. In some cases, benefits may not outweigh the costs at all. If the event does not goes as anticipated, it can have a long lasting negative effect on the host city and dissuade potential future events from choosing that location. Maintaining specialized facilities too will be on ongoing cost for the city, long after the event tourists have gone home. Add to these disadvantages the fact that soccer simply does not have the following in the United States that it has elsewhere, and it is an event an American city would really have to consider before putting in a bid to host.
2010 FIFA World Cup. (2008). Retrieved December 14, 2009, from http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/2010/Pages/default.aspx.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. (2009). Retrieved December 14, 2009, from http://www.southafrica.info/2010/worldcup-overview.htm.
Business tourism and FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. (2008). Retrieved December 14, 2009, from http://www1.southafrica.net/Cultures/en-U.S./bt.southafrica.net/News+and+events/News/Lateral+Thinking+Business+Tourism+and+the+2010+Soccer+World+Cup.htm.
Previous FIFA World Cups. (2009). Retrieved December14, 2009, from http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/index.html.
Sandomir, R. (11 Jul 2006). Cup ratings are up, but fans deserve better. NY Times. Retrieved December 14, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/sports/soccer/11sandomir.html.
Sturgess, B. & Brady, C. (4 Nov 2006). Hosting the FIFA World Cup. World Economics, 7(4). Retrieved December…