The 2010 word cup in south africa – essay -3127
rodrigo | January 4, 2015
Over the decades the FIFA World Cups were usually held in developed countries due to their advanced infrastructure. The hosts of these events were also developing countries in Latin America due to the long football tradition on the continent (Appendix 1). In order to promote football FIFA decided to designate other developing countries as the host of these sport events (Bohlmann and Heerden, 2005). In 2004 FIFA President, SeppBlatter informed that South Africa was the host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup after the country presented its bid to FIFA’s Executive Committee The FIFA 2010 World Cup, hosted by South Africa was the first such an event held in Africa(Sylvester and Hajru, 2010).
South Africa is the largest economy on the African continent. The 2010 World Cup was regarded as a great opportunity for economic development. The cost-benefit analysis of the 2010 World Cup prepared in 2004 by a consultancy firm, Grant Thornton was optimistic and assumed significant profits for South Africa in various areas such as massive national incomes, higher investments and employment as well as the development of tourism. The report prepared by this company stated that “the staging of the Soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010 will create significant direct and indirect economic benefits for the country’s economy, with minimal tangible and intangible costs” (Cottle, 2010, p.3) Also the survey conducted by the Human Science Research Council amongst the citizens of South Africa indicated positive attitudes towards the 2010 World Cup. In 2007 approximately 50% people in the survey regarded economic growth and new job opportunities as two key benefits of hosting the event by South Africa. About 30% of them postulated that they would personally reap benefits through new employment opportunities. Additionally, 50% of them described economic profits to South Africa as long-lasting (Cottle, 2010). Indeed the 2010 World Cup had a large economic impact on South Africa. However, it is highly questionable whether its effects were as strong and beneficial as it was estimated. While the event contributed to the dynamic development of the infrastructure within a country, it had relatively low influence on overall economic growth and employment stability. Additionally, it was associated with high costs which clearly overcame incomes.
The following essay is an in-depth analysis of the effects of the 2010 World Cup on South African economy that aims to examine how profitable this sport event was for the country. First the essay focuses on the methodology used in the following research. Second, the essay considers the concept of mega events and their impact on economic growth as a theoretical framework of the analysis of the South African case. Finally, the essay critically analyses the effects of such a mega event in reference to South African economy by applying various quantifiable measures, in particular economic growth rate; expenditures and incomes; an increase in investments; employment rate and an increase in number of tourists.
The following research is based on the positivist philosophy paradigm. This paradigm assumes that the world is objective and can be explained with logical analysis. The research should be focused on analysing facts and causalities; simplifying the phenomena as well as on testing framed hypothesis. In the frameworks of the positivist paradigm, the following research tends to focus quantitative data, which is objective and accurate. Further data reliability and validity are high, as the information is collected from both South African and international sources (Easterby-Smith, 1991).
The research method applied in the following research is a literature review. By definition, the literature review can be perceived as “the selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contains information, ideas, data and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfil certain aims, or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed” (Hart, 1998, p.13). A literature review is commonly used non-empirical research method. It has a number of various purposes. According to Bless (2000) major aims of a literature review are to deepen the theoretical basis of the research; to acquaint the researcher with the recent studies in the area of research as well as to identify the weaknesses in previous works. Further, a literature review intends to analyse connections, contradictions and other relations between the results of various researches as well as to identify variables that need to be considered in the research work. In turn, Leedy (1986) postulated that a literature review should not focus only on identifying and analysing all available information about a research topic. A main purpose of such a review should be to have an in-depth insight into a research topic and to gain a detailed understanding of the problem (Kummar, 2008).
In the context of the following project, a literature review had two main goals. First, the review aims to establish theoretical frameworks of the 2010 World Cups. Hence, it considers the concept of mega-events and its relevance to the South African World Cup. There is a number of scholars that conducted research on the economic consequences of the sport mega-events for the host country by analysing the previous cases of FIFA World Cups and the Olympic Games. The review includes both South African academic publications (i.e. Bohlmann, 2006); South African governmental documents (i.e. Magubu and Mohamed, 2008) as well as international academic works (i.e. Anton, et.al., 2011; Brunet, 2006). Second, the review intends to examine a real impact of the 2010 World Cup on the country’s economy. In order to achieve this goal the estimated costs and benefits of such a mega-event in South Africa, prepared by Grant Thornton (2004) have been compared with actual economic performance of South Africa. A number of quantifiable economic indicators have been considered, such as real growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), taxation income, unemployment rate, Foreign Direct Investments’ inflows, an increase of the total number of tourists. In order to provide reliable and valid data, the international databases (i.e. World Bank Database) have been used. Further, to understand variations between estimated and actual figures, the review includes various South African governmental papers (i.e. Magubu and Mohamed, 2008); academic research works (i.e. Swinnen and Vandemoortele, 2008); publications of international organizations as well as journal’s articles (i.e. Marrs, 2010) and online sources (i.e. Wilson, 2010).
The concept of mega-events in the literature
The sport and leisure industry has experienced a strong and dynamic development since the 1980s. It was largely caused by the evolution of media technology. As the public demand for live transmission of sport events increased, television networks became willing to pay growing amounts of money in order to gain the rights to broadcast these large sport events. The development of this industry has led to the dynamic growth of other sectors, most remarkably tourism and construction sector. Hence, the economic impact of sporting mega-events on the host countries became of keen interest for the academic scholars and policy makers (Bohlmann, 2006). A mega-event is defined as “an event with a limited duration that might occur only once or with a certain recurrence” (Anton, et.al., 2011, p.1). With no doubt, the FIFA World Cup is such an event. The first comprehensive studies on the economic influence of hosting a mega-event were conducted in 1984 and focused on the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The research was undertaken after Montreal which held the Olympic Games in 1976 declared that this sport event caused a significant national financial deficit. Subsequently, sport mega-events and their economic effects for the host country has became the subject of various economic impact studies, the most significant of which are shortly presented below (Anton, et.al., 2011).
Dobson et.al. (1997) analysed the economic consequences of the Euro 1997 Football Championship on the UK economy. His study revealed that approximately 280,000 visitors who came to the UK during this sport event contributed almost £120 million to the British economy. Moreover, domestic football fans that travelled across the country to see the games generated additional £75million. He believed that this money had a significant impact on the development of the British economy (Magubu and Mohammed, 2008).
Ritchie and Adair (2002) underlined the importance of sport tourism for the whole tourism industry within the country. They postulated that the development of the sport tourism should be regarded both as a leisure experience and as a significant economic activity, as it significantly contributes to the national incomes. They also emphasized the importance of economic planning in the host country in order to ensure long-term development of this country. A number of academic institutions and organizations recognized the importance of the links postulated by Ritchie and Adair. The universities in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia started to offer degrees in sport tourism and management. These connections became of key significance also for the World Tourism Organizations (WTO). In 2001 this organization, together with the International Olympic Committee held the World Conference on Sport and Tourism in order to discuss the importance of sport tourism as an economic activity. The WTO has also produced the report, revealing that in 2001 sport events contributed over 2% to the Gross Domestic Product of industrialized countries and approximately 4-6% to the tourism sector in these countries (Magubu and Mohammed, 2008). Moreover, in 2003 the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission stated that major sporting events (i.e. World Cups, Olympic Games) added on average US$ 32.2 million to the incomes of the cities that hosted these events. In turn, the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance announced that the sport tourism industry brought just over $2 billion to the national economy in 2003 (Bohlmann and Heerden, 2005). These studies undertaken by various groups of researchers indicated that sport tourism had a positive impact on the national economies, in particular on the development of the host cities. In order to assess objectively full economic impact of hosting sport mega-events, it is crucial to analyse critically more cases of hosting these events.
The Centre for Regional Economic Analysis (1997) at the University of Tasmania analysed (1997) the economic impact of the Sydney Olympic Games on the New South Wales (NSW) and Australia. The research was based on multiregional computable general equilibrium model (CGE) and included twelve years period (1995-2006) . This study estimated that until the end of 2006 the Olympics would bring approximately AU$ 490 million per annum to the Gross State Product (GSP) of New South Wales (NSW). At the same time, the Olympic would contribute AU$ 6.5 billion to the Gross Domestic Product of Australia (Anton, et.al., 2011). Madden (2002) continued the research started by the CREA on the economic implications of the Sydney Olympic Games. He applied the same model (CGE). However, he enlarged the database, as he added three new industries such as Olympic operations, international tourism and interstate tourism. His estimations on the contribution of the Games to the GSP and GDP largely reflected the figures revealed by the CREA. Additionally, Madden postulated that the Olympic Games would create approximately 5300 in NSW and 7500 in the whole country each year over the twelve years period (Madden, 2002). On the microeconomic level, the construction sector was regarded as the sector that would experience the most dynamic development in the pre-event phase and the event year, while transport and communication sectors and personal services industries were estimated to be the biggest beneficiaries in the post-event phase. Finally, both studies showed sharp increase in tourism as a consequence of the Olympic Games. On the other hand, in the post-event phase NSW should experience a significant debt-repayment what would partly overshadow the positive effects of the tourism and investments. Nonetheless the net economic effect of the Games on the Australia would still remain massively positive (Bohlmann, 2006). As the Sydney Olympic Games was largely perceived as the success in terms of the positive economic effects, Australia has hosted two other mega-events. These were IRB Rugby World Cup in 2003 and 2006 Commonwealth Games. The research conducted by URS Finance and Economics (2004) in Australia revealed that the Rugby World Cup contributed approximately AU$ 55 million to revenue of the Commonwealth Government and generated almost 4000 full-time and part-time jobs in 2003. In total, this event brought AU$ 289 million to the GDP of Australia (Bohlmann and Heerden, 2005). It is worth adding that the infrastructural and organizational legacy from the Sydney Olympic Games was partly responsible for the scope of the economic benefits of the Rugby World Cup.
In turn, Brunet (2005) focused his study on the economic effects of the Barcelona Olympic Games (1992) over the 18 years period (1986-2004). He postulated that the Games were notable success and had a major impact on the urban regeneration and the general attractiveness of the city. The Barcelona Games started to be perceived as a model to follow up from the organizational, economic, social, sporting and urban planning perspectives. At the economic level, Brunet emphasized that three main benefits of hosting the Olympics were remarkably lower unemployment rate, a significant boom in the construction industry as well as in the housing market. More importantly, approximately 20,000 permanent jobs were created due to the Olympic Games, which led to higher employment levels also during the global recessions 1990-1993 and 1998. Tourism was a sector experienced the greatest gains in the result of the Olympic Games. Additionally massive investments caused by the Olympic Games strengthened the strategic position of Barcelona within Europe (Bohlmann, 2006).
Kim et.al. (2004) conducted the economic impact study of the FIFA World Cup in South Korea in 2002. The study focused on analysing the perception of the 2002 World Cup effects amongst the South Korean inhabitants before and after the mega-event and included various issues associated with hosting the event. The study revealed that a number of expected benefits did not actually materialised, in particular in the economic field (Anton, et.al., 2011). For instance, the construction costs of the stadiums built for the World Cup were significantly higher than expected. Additionally, this event led to building a significant number of large single-purpose stadiums that have remained underused after the World Cup. Hence the event caused the waste of significant amounts of national revenues. Similarly, the inflows of investments and tourists were lower than it was believed. However, it is crucial to underline that the second survey was conducted three months after hosting the World Cups. Some of the expected benefits, in particular foreign investments might be visible over the long term and could possibly meet the expectations set by the resident (Bohlmann and Heerden, 2005). It is noteworthy that also Fredline and Faulkner (2002) examined residents’ perceptions of mega-events. They concluded that a good understanding of the effects of these events upon the quality of life of residents in of key significance in order to ensure sustainability of these events. They also underlined that if there are disparities between pre-event and post-event perceptions, residents are more willing to change their attitudes toward hosting mega-events next time (Bohlmann, 2006).
Finally, it is crucial to review the work presented by Mathenson and Baade (2004). They examined how profitable hosting sport mega-events were for developing countries. They postulated that real net economic impact of these mega-events was significantly smaller in developing countries than it was initially estimated. A major reason of overestimations is that the researchers often focus on the gross domestic spending when discussing the mega-events rather than on net spending figures. This approach fails to consider the decreased spending of the inhabitants on other products caused by the reallocation of domestic spending as well as to take into account substitution effect due to hosting mega-events. Further, they perceived costs of developing infrastructure, opportunity costs as well as utilization of sport facilities after the mega-events as major concerns in reference to hosting these events by developing countries. Additionally, in spite of widely available labour force in developing countries, the quality and skills of them mostly do not meet the requirements. Hence, developing countries need to import workers from other regions within a country or, more likely, from other countries. The authors concluded that net benefits of hosting sport mega-events by developing countries are largely overestimated and hence, they should not be regarded a profitable investment by developing regions (Bohlmann, 2006).
The impact of hosting the 2010 World Cup on South African economy
In the light of a number of economic impact studies developed over the decades, the 2010 World Cup were expected to bring various economic profits to South Africa. On the other hand, Mathenson and Baade warned that hosting sport mega-event by developing country is not profitable. In order to assess which approach is relevant to the South African case it is crucial to analyse estimated economic benefits of the 2010 World Cup and to compare them with the real figures.
Considering first the costs associated with the 2010 World Cups, in 2004 Grant Thornton estimated total costs at R2.6 billion and in 2009 the company increased total expenditure to R 39.3 billion (Brehm and Saunders, 2010). In fact, South African government announced that the total spending reached R33 billion, while most of the economists postulated that these spending were higher and ranged between R50 and R80 billion (Amato, 2010). While R8.8 billion (16% of total expenditure) was spent by non-governmental bodies such as FIFA Organising Committee, teams, sponsors and the media, the significant rest of these expenditures had to be covered by national and local governments (Swinnen and Vandemoortele, 2008). Deputy President, Kgalema Montlanthe argued that these inflated costs were a major factor responsible for such a massive miscalculation. Between 2004 and 2010 the costs of construction materials (i.e. steel, concentrate) increased sharply. For instance, the price of hot-rolled coil steel increased from US$615/ per ton in 2004 to US$726/ per ton in 2010, as presented in Appendix 2 (Competition Commission, 2010). However, the report on corruption published in 2005 by the Transparency International underlined that global construction sector was the most corrupted sector of the international economy. In 2005 corruption within this sector reached huge amount of $3 trillion (R23trillion) globally (Tolsi, 2010). Hence, it became clear that the corruption was a major cause of the disparities between estimated and actual expenditures in South Africa, where the Corruption Perception Index, a common measure of national level of corruption, reached 4.5 (Transparency International, 2005). Approximately R13.4 billion of total expenditures constituted the costs of transportation infrastructure development. Indeed, this dynamic development of infrastructure within a country is currently perceived as the greatest tangible long-term benefit of the 2010 World Cup in Africa. Moreover, the amount of money directed on infrastructure investments seems to be insignificant compared to R846 billion that the national government planned to spend on public infrastructure investment programme (2010-2013). Additionally, national and local governments have managed to allocate these expenditure as a part of annual budget starting from 2006 (Sylvester and Hajru, 2010). On the other hand, the critics argue that the infrastructure investments benefited mostly the residents of the cities where the World Cup events were held, the tourists and people of the upper class rather than the whole South African society. For instance, first high-speed train in South Africa, the Gautrain cost the country approximately R24 billion .The ticket prices (R100) and train route (rich areas of the country) indicated that the train has mostly served selected rich groups of people. Similarly, it is argued that in order to prepare the country’s infrastructure for the 2010 World Cup the national government deferred a number of urgent projects such as the improvements in water and electricity access in underdeveloped regions of the country (Sylvester and Hajru, 2010). Taking into account the stadiums, they were the second largest infrastructural investment which costs amounted to almost R12 billion. There are 10 large stadiums, built in South Africa in order to meet the World Cup requirements. Nowadays these stadiums remain largely underused. At the same time, the maintenance expenditures are huge, with the largest cost of R15-18 million per annum (Appendix 3), estimated for the Soccer City stadium. These costs still have to be covered by the host cities and national government, and hence by the South African tax payers as the private stadium management companies are not keen to take responsibility for these unprofitable investments (Cottle, 2010).
Taking into account the 2010 World Cup contribution to South African economy, in 2003 Grant Thornton postulated that this event would add almost R21 billion (1.2%) to South African GDP and increased this figure to R55 billion (2.7%) in 2008 (Brehm and Saunders, 2010). In turn, the report published by UBS in 2010 suggested that the 2010 World Cups would bring between 0.5%-2% to South African GDP within four years period commencing in 2006 (Ghosh, 2010). In fact, World Cup economic boost reached 38 billion, while the gross impact of the World Cup on the national economy, in the form of production and incomes, was finally estimated at R93 billion (Marrs, 2010). 62% of this amount of money was generated in the pre-event phase and 38% – in 2010. In fact, the World Cups added only 0.3% to the national economy (Amato, 2010), what was significantly less than the predictions. There are two major factors that had an influence on this relatively low contribution to the national GDP. One of them were high expenditures associated with the World Cup that had to be covered by the national government, as explained above. Second factor regards tourism sector which was expected to be mostly responsible for boosting real GDP (Marrs, 2010). In 2003 it was estimated that approximately 450,000 tourist would visit during the World Cup period, who on average would stay 14 days and spend R22,000. These figures were adjusted in 2007. It was announced that 483,000 visitors will come to South Africa for the World Cup, staying there 18 days on average and spending R30,200. Hence, it was believed that overseas tourists would contribute almost 16% to the national economy (Sylvester and Hajru, 2010). In fact, in July 2010 there were about 373,000 foreign visitors in South Africa. Approximately 30% of them were non-ticket holders who came to South Africa for a short period of time (Cottle, 2010). Additionally, as the 2010World Cup fell on the time of global recession, the football funs reduced their duration of stay in South Africa and cut down their expenses to an average of R15,000 (Marrs, 2010). Although tourism sector was one of the major beneficiaries of the World Cup in South Africa, the benefits for the sector and hence, South African GDP were significantly lower than it was assumed.
While the overall economic growth of South Africa as a consequence of the World Cup was rather minor, there were several sectors within the country apart from the construction and tourism sectors that have particularly benefited from the World Cup. One of them was motor vehicle industry. Transportation sector within a country was sharply hit by the global recession, as a number of export markets collapsed. A strong demand for car hiring caused mostly by foreign tourist coming for the World Cup prevented a number of South African car hire companies from going bankrupt. Similarly, Imperial Holdings, a domestic company which activities included both rental businesses and car dealerships announced that its recovery in new vehicles sales commencing in December 2011 was partly associated with the World Cup-related vehicles purchases. Also retail sector became a beneficiary, as retail spending rose by R800 million (0.2%) during this sport event. Nonetheless these profits were observed in the cities hosting the events while retail businesses in other regions did not note additional incomes (Marrs, 2010).
It is interesting to add that some researchers (i.e. Cottle) postulated that net income of the national government is not the most accurate measure of the overall profitability of the 2010 World Cup due to disparities in estimated gross expenditures associated with the event. Instead, Cottle proposed to use taxation income in analysis. In 2003 taxation income from the World Cup was estimated at R7.2 billion. In fact, a taxation income amounted to R22.1 billion (Bridge, 2010). Although the taxation income was significantly higher than expected, the total expenditures grew at a faster pace. Hence, the 2010 World Cup brought significant financial losses to the national government (Cottle, 2010). Moreover, immediately aftermath the World Cup, the South African budget deficit started to grow constantly and currently amounts to -5.3% of GDP (CIA, 2012). South Africa belongs to the group of countries with the largest budget deficit, measuring budget deficit as a percentage of GDP.
It is crucial to consider the employment stimulation in South Africa as a consequence of the World Cup. According to the 2003 estimations, almost 160,000 jobs should be created due to the World Cup what was regarded as a big advantage of this mega event. Indeed, approximately 150,000 South Africans were hired directly in World Cup-related jobs, while additional 450,000 jobs were indirectly created by the event (Sylvester and Hajru, 2010). Nonetheless, most of these jobs had a temporary character and disappeared as soon as the projects were completed. In the immediate aftermath of the event, Statistics South Africa, an official statistics bureau announced that the annual unemployment increased by 4.7% what was equivalent to 627,000 lost jobs. Hence, the World Cup did not help to combat long-term structural unemployment, characteristics for South Africa. The official unemployment rate decreased from 27.9% in 2004 to 22.9% in 2008 and started to grow to 25.3% in 2010 (World Bank, 2010). It is crucial to note that the World Cup led to the greater income inequality within a country, as they mostly benefited large companies and their management teams rather than casual workers. A good example comes from the South African construction sector. It is estimated that the average wage gap between the low-paid worker and senior official in the construction companies increased from 166 in 2004 to 285 in 2009. Further, the World Cup deepened an informal sector in South Africa. A number of low-paid workers join informal sector due to massive job losses in order to ensure livelihood to themselves and their families. Mostly these workers started to work as informal traders on the local markets. In order to prevent from a rapid development of informal sector, a number of cities (i.e. Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban) decided to close local markets. In result, the cities’ governments contributed to higher unemployment, greater social inequalities and spreading poverty across the country (Cottle, 2010).
Finally, the 2010 World Cup had indirect impact on strengthening geopolitical position of South Africa The country is rich in mineral resources and is the largest global producer of platinum, gold and chromium (CIA, 2012). Not only did South Africa increase significantly its foreign trade, but also attracted a number of foreign investors due to its developed infrastructure. The share of foreign trade in South African Gross National Product reached 64% in 2010, what was 20% increase compared to 2006 (Global Trader, 2012). In 2007 foreign investments in South Africa amounted to $5.7 billion. These investments sharply increased in 2008, mainly due to massive World Cup-related projects and reached almost $9 billion. From 2009 the foreign investments have oscillated around $6 billion per annum (UNCTAD, 2011). According to the 2009/2010 Global Competitiveness Index, South Arica became 45th most attractive country across the globe to invest in. Moreover, South Africa became of keen interest for the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), which encourage currently South Africa to join the group (Global Trader, 2012).
To sum up, the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa was perceived as a phenomenon. This massive sport event was held in Africa for the first time. Due to a good planning, organization and event management, the 2010 World Cup was recognized as a great success by the international community. South African government believed that such a huge event will have a positive economic impact on the country and will facilitate to transform South Africa into an advance economy. The anticipated effects of this event on the national economy prepared in 2004 by a consultancy company, Grant Thornton were promising. According to these estimations, this sporting mega-event was supposed to contribute even 2.7% to the South African GDP and lead to the dynamic development of tourism sector. Moreover, this event should help to combat a high unemployment across the country as it gave an opportunity to create a large number of jobs, also for low skilled workers. Nonetheless, the research showed that in short term the 2010 World Cup has significantly smaller effect on the national economy than it was projected. The World Cup benefited significantly some sectors such as constructions, transport and tourism. However, overall this event brought only 0.3% to South African GDP. Further, South Africa was able to develop its infrastructure that without doubt is the most visible legacy of the event. However, the expenditures associated with developing this infrastructure were massive. They mostly had to be covered by local and national governments which means that the tax payers had to pay for these massive investments. The World Cup created a number of job vacancies across the country. However most of these jobs were unsustainable and hence, the event did not help to lower unemployment as it was expected. Instead, it deepened the inequalities across the country. A positive but still minor consequence of the World Cup seems to be slow development of foreign trade and investments.
The experience of South Africa in reference to World Cup seems to confirm results of the research presented by Mathenson and Baade that in the economic terms hosting mega-events is not profitable for developing country. To remain objective, it is important to underline two issues. First, the 2010 World Cup fell on the period of strong global recession what can partly explain why the economic outcomes of the World Cup were lower than expected. Second, it has been only two years since the World Cup was held by South Africa. The most recent publications on this event can only indicate short term consequences for South Africa. Nowadays some of the researches postulate that the long-lasting impact of the World Cup on South Africa seem to be more optimistic. According to the estimations a number of foreign tourists visiting South Africa has tended to increase since 2010. These visitors will bring from R2115 million (2012) to R3832 million to the national economy in the form of taxes (Grant Thornton, 2010). Additionally, the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa announced that it is seeking to tighten its trade relations with the BRIC countries until 2014. Similarly, South Africa aims to attract approximately R115 billion of foreign investments between 2011 and 2014 (TradeMark, 2012). Hence, the long term effects of the 2012 World Cup on the South African economy are yet to be observed.
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Global changes of steel prices, 2004-2010. Source: Sylvester and Harju, 2010, p.7
Category: Essay & Dissertation Samples, Research Proposal Examples
Anyone underestimating the scale of South Africa's achievement need only spend a few minutes wading through the acres of press coverage over the past six years predicting failure on an epic scale. There were predictions that the stadiums would not be ready on time, that visiting fans would be taking their lives into their hands and a wave of stories that Fifa would be forced to turn to a "plan B". Even a few months before the tournament the Daily Star warned of a "machete race war" on the streets of South Africa.
By the end of the group stages, the Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke felt secure enough to joke that South Africa had been so successful that it would become "plan B" for all future tournaments. There were undoubtedly some teething problems and some of the more ambitious pre-tournament claims were so grandiose they could not possibly be met by what remains – despite all that is loaded on to it by Fifa, politicians and others – a football tournament. But there can be few who would now contradict the chief executive Danny Jordaan's assertion that, off the pitch at least, South Africa delivered a unique and memorable World Cup and that "the doubters are the believers today".
From Cape Town's stunningly located Green Point to the daring of Durban's Moses Mabhida arch and the scale of Soccer City, standing alone on the outskirts of Soweto, the 10 stadiums some claimed would not be ready on time were universally praised. The debate will go on about the procurement processes, the overspends and the legacy benefits but they provided a fitting stage.
What will happen now is less clear, with all passing to new operating companies. The prospects of remote stadiums in Rustenburg or Nelspruit being filled on a regular basis must be slim. Even in Cape Town and Durban, ensuring a vibrant, viable future largely depends on persuading the local rugby clubs to move from their long-standing, much-loved homes. Jordaan remains hopeful that they will do so, given the obvious commercial benefits.
In the face of extreme cynicism, police and the local organising committee were almost entirely vindicated in their insistence that this would be a World Cup free of serious crime or disorder. For all the concerns in a country where the statistics make for horrific reading, the suspicion they would succeed by flooding public areas with 41,000 dedicated police proved more prescient than those who foresaw a doomsday scenario. That alone, in terms of helping change the perceptions of potential return visitors, will be worth its weight in gold in terms of tourism and inward investment.
If anything, the clampdown went too far the other way, with the South African authorities going overboard in their desire to please Fifa. Specially convened World Cup courts were largely empty, attracting headlines only for the severity of the sentences imposed on a sometimes bizarre and pathetic parade of miscreants – including the two Dutch women accused of orchestrating a high-profile ambush marketing stunt and Pavlos Joseph, the England dressing-room "invader".
More serious were concerns that disputes between stewards and their employers over pay could escalate into violent clashes. With swift, if brutal, effectiveness the police took control of stewarding in six of the biggest stadiums. If their sense of direction was sometimes erratic, their sheer volume ensured there were no serious issues apart from petty thefts.
In the opening days, transport looked like the one issue that might trip up organisers in spectacular fashion. Gridlock around Johannesburg left Soccer City with thousands of empty seats for the opening ceremony. Long-held concerns about the difficulty of ferrying thousands of fans to remote locations such as Rustenburg were borne out as large queues formed. Although there were still legitimate grumbles to be heard as the tournament progressed, teething troubles were largely ironed out as the event went on.
In a large country with little cross-country public transport network, getting around was always going to compare unfavourably to Japan and South Korea's bullet trains or Germany's supremely efficient network. The most serious issues were before last week's semi-final between Germany and Spain, where hundreds of fans faced a tortuous journey to the match as the airport in Durban struggled to cope with the volume of flights coming in.
Fifa has admitted that lessons need to be learned for 2014. The global economic slump, combined with a pricing model which presupposed that an African World Cup could be as lucrative as a European one, left Fifa scrambling to avoid embarrassment. A rearguard action to belatedly make more cheaper tickets available to locals and overhaul the sales system just about did enough. But empty seats were evident throughout the group stages and even at some of the knockout matches. It became a favoured pastime to note the point at which thousands of yellow jacketed volunteers would flood into the stands to fill empty spaces at some matches. Fifa blamed no-shows and problems with distribution of batches of group tickets.
Even more noticeable were the sparsely populated hospitality boxes. Fifa did not lose out because Match, the controversial outfit that has been involved at every World Cup since 1986 but this time signed a contract to resell hospitality for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, had already paid upfront for the resale rights. Match failed to make a profit on the South African tournament after setting prices too high and falling victim to slashed budgets.
By the end a total attendance of 3.18 million ensured that 92.9% of seats were filled, at an average of 49,670 per game. Fifa and organisers were still able to claim the third biggest total attendance in the wake of the worst global recession since the 1930s. If Fifa and Match have learned some hard lessons about the way that tickets are sold, how they are priced and just how far they can push corporate customers then so much the better.
And despite the recession, pre-sold TV rights and sponsorship made this the most profitable World Cup ever for Fifa, which banked $3.2bn before it had even kicked off. The commercial reasoning behind its drive to take the World Cup to new continents was underlined by a revamped sponsorship strategy that saw a string of names unfamiliar to western eyes from China, Brazil and elsewhere representing a new wave of brands prepared to pour money into Fifa's coffers.
No one who was in South Africa for the weekend of the opening game, or witnessed the hysteria that greeted the Bafana Bafana pre-tournament parade, can say organisers failed to rally the nation. The debate about the ubiquitous honk of the vuvuzela remains but it will always be synonymous with the first African World Cup. And despite Bafana Bafana going down with dignity in the group stages, the nation rallied behind Ghana instead.
Such is the chasm between rich and poor in South Africa that there were undoubtedly parts of the population, particularly outside big cities, who remained largely untouched by the World Cup. Yet many of those most enthusiastic about the tournament were never going to be able to afford a ticket.
Hearteningly, the country made the World Cup its own, loosening the straitjacket that Fifa imposes on its flagship event. From the hawkers selling flags at street corners to students wearing "Fick Fufa" T-shirts, there was a healthy disrespect for the owners of the World Cup "brand" even as they celebrated its arrival. While the international fan fests, held for the first time in iconic locations around the world and attended by more than 4 million, were deemed a success the picture was more mixed in South Africa. Some remained sparsely populated except for matches involving the home team as spectators blanched at having to pay over the top prices for "official" food and drink and instead gathered at alternative big screen sites or simply watched at home or in bars.
Inside stadiums, while the atmosphere was electric at some matches, at others it suffered from a combination of empty seats, an eclectic mix of ticket holders or the fact that many of the South Africans in the stadium were fairly new to the game. In its own way, that too can be chalked up as a success by organisers who were hoping to introduce the wealthy, mainly white middle classes to the sport.
It was hard to find many overseas visitors with negative words for the hosts, save for the odd grumble over prices or transport, with the warmth of the welcome and infectious enthusiasm almost universally praised. On the pitch, the quality of the football may have been variable and tended towards sterile at times – but that is the one thing the organisers cannot control.
Organisers have loaded much on to this World Cup in terms of the legacy it will leave, while critics have been equally vociferous in complaining about the priority placed on the tournament when there are so many other pressing priorities. But after all the rhetoric and bitter argument, the government said the economic boost to the country (38bn rand) would roughly equal the outlay. Around 130,000 jobs were created – but many of those were temporary construction jobs.
Given the extent to which spin-off legacy benefits have begun to dominate the rhetoric of the bidding process for so-called "mega-events", the forensic spotlight on South Africa is likely to remain for some time. Organisers have spoken at length about the "nation building" potential of the World Cup, and this was proved to be far more than empty rhetoric as South Africans came together in a national sense of near-hysteria. The fear must be that it will prove to have been temporary but its effect should not be dismissed.
Significant infrastructure improvements have demonstrably been delivered. But the most persuasive argument deployed by Jordaan and the government was that successfully delivering the World Cup would help change perceptions of the country and the continent. That they have surely done. They hope to align South Africa with other emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India and cementing a perception of South Africa as a country that can deliver on its promises can only help.