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There has been an increase in the number of countries which are willing to host the World Cup, and this can be linked with the realization of the benefits that are attributable to hosting the event. South Africa is the first African country that is set to host the World Cup, and this has been received with joy from many South Africans and Africans at large. It is important to analyze the World Cup before understanding the processes and benefits associated with the event.
FIFA World Cup is an international football competition that is played after every four years by male national teams of various countries which qualify for the competition. This competition is also known as the World Cup, and for countries to participate, they must be members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The tournament has been played after every four years since inception in 1930, with the exception of the period when World War II took place (1942 and 1946). The competition has two parts to it; the final and qualification stages. The qualification stage is takes place three years prior to the final stage, and involves the determination of the teams that compete in finals. Currently, the final stage involves competition between 32 teams which takes place at different venues around the nation hosting the event.
The event takes approximately one month to end, and is the most watched sports event globally, with over 715 million people watching the finals in 2006. The only country that has played in each competition is Brazil, and has also won it the most times, five (www.world-cup-info.com, 2007). Italy and Germany follow the highest wins with four and three respectively. The last such tournament was in 2006 in Germany, and Italy won the tournament after defeating France. The next one will be in South Africa in 2010 between June and July. The subsequent one will be in 2014 and the venue of the tournament will be Brazil. It is important to note that there is an alternative host country for each tournament, in case natural catastrophes prevent the successful hosting of the event in the selected nation.
Before hosting a World Cup tournament, the host country must have infrastructure that will enable the successful hosting of the event. The facilities including stadiums and related infrastructure must meet international standards and have the capacity to hold the expected crowd. FIFA officials routinely visit host countries to assess the level of preparation with regards to the issue under discussion. The event cannot take place before FIFA is convinced the adequate preparations have taken place. In case the host country is unable to complete the preparations on time, FIFA has the authority to move the event to another nation, which is predetermined during announcement of the hosting country.
In the upcoming World Cup tournament in South Africa, the government is spending about R5 billion in renovating and building new stadiums, R3.5 billion in improving the rail and road network, R5.2 billion in upgrading the airports in the country as well as other investments. To get a rough picture of the economic benefits, we must consider these renovations and constructions as investments. Any investor invests with the aim of acquiring returns that are greater than the sum invested. Using these figures alone, South Africa is investing R13.7billion, which is slightly over $1.4 billion. These figures are immensely understated since there are numerous other investments. The South African government can therefore be assumed to be expecting benefits that exceed this figure. In fact, according to South Africa government and SAGN (2008), the projected benefits to the South African GDP is in the range of R55 billion, which is approximately equivalent to $5.5 billion. This figure is achieved from estimated contributions to the economy which include direct spending on infrastructure and stadiums figures of R33 billion, ticket sales figures of R6 billion, spectator trip expenditures of R8 billion, tax incomes of R19 billion among other benefits.
Before a country is allowed to host the World Cup, FIFA must be satisfied that adequate arrangements are in place to ensure the security of all visitors to that country, as well as players and officials. The countries must demonstrate that they have taken all precautions to prevent and deal with any eventuality, especially in this age of terrorism. With regards to security, South Africa is not taking any chances; it is taking several measures to ensure that there is adequate security for all visitors. According to Simao (2007), the general security situation involves various governments which will share intelligence with South Africa. The security will be focused over the entire country and specifically around the stadiums, accommodation areas, all ports of entry, FIFA headquarters, and the various streets and malls. Some of the security preparations are illustrated below;
First of all, the country is spending R665 million, which is equivalent to approximately $67 million to purchase materials that include; crowd control equipment, unmanned aircraft, crime scene trainers, 10 water cannons, 40 helicopters, 100 BMWs with body armor for patrol, mobile command centers, 300 mobile cameras and other equipment. The mobile command centers will be able to receive footage from aircraft patrolling the cities. In addition to this, South Africa will spend R640 million, which is approximately equivalent to $65 million to deploy 41,000 officers, with additional 100,000 reservists as support teams.
There will be 2010 police stations which are near each facility where the events will take place. In addition to this, the countries whose teams are participating will also send officers as support, especially due to language translation and differences in culture. There will also be a hot-line which is multi-lingual, and it will assist visitors in need of medical or police services.
Economic benefits of the World Cup to the host nation.
The exact economic benefits of hosting the World Cup are difficult to accurately compute, but they run into their billions of dollars. The World Cup benefits almost all sectors of the economy, and these include real estate, tourism, transport, sports, telecommunication among other sectors.
As has been discussed, billions of dollars are being invested by the government and the private sector toward the success of the 2010 World Cup (Jordaan 2008). Among the infrastructure being currently developed includes the building and renovations of stadiums, upgrading of airports, and improvement of rail and road networks, better destination management and tourism information, construction of hotels among other forms of infrastructure. The major benefit of improving the infrastructure is that this is a long term investment. All these facilities and services will still be used after the World Cup and will greatly contribute to the economy in subsequent years.
The estimated employment opportunities that will be generated by the 2010 World Cup are in the range of 415,000 jobs. Most of the employment opportunities will be generated in the tourism industry, since most of the people who will visit South Africa are likely to go on tours and trips, besides watching the games. Other opportunities will be generated in the sectors that are discussed below.
There are very many tourists who are expected to visit South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup (Morgan 2004). Approximately 480,000 people who are expected to attend the event. Of these people, 150,000 are expected to be neighbors from Africa and the rest from other continents. The tourists are estimated to spend about R8.5 billion, which is slightly above $840 million. It is important to note that the figures given are conservative and have the potential to be higher.
The benefits from tourism are expected to be long term. According to Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (2007), this event will serve to market South Africa as a tourist destination, and it is likely that many tourists will visit this country in subsequent years after the World Cup, due to the experience that they will undergo. It is also important to note that the benefits from tourism will be greater, since some tourists will opt to remain in the country after the world cup for sight seeing activities.
The media industry is also expected to benefit from these employment opportunities, since there are 18,000 media personnel who are expected to cover the event, and transmit it to over 800 million viewers who will follow the activities from the comfort of their television sets. There will be events in different cities, and all these need to be relayed to the large audience, which will not be present in South Africa, or to South Africans who will not attend the event.
Real estate and property sector.
This will be another major beneficiary of the event, and this is attributed to the large number of guests who will require accommodation facilities. Investors are pumping in millions of dollars for purchase or construction of facilities that will be used during the World Cup. Already, thirty five new hotels are under construction due to the need to accommodate the large number of visitors. Property prices in strategic locations are set to rise due to the large demand of accommodation facilities. All these benefits will positively affect the South African economy.
Social and cultural benefits.
Besides the economic benefits, South Africa is expected to benefit in terms of social development. South Africans will be exposed to a variety of foreign cultures and will learn from them. This is very useful in widening the scope of thinking of individuals as well as learning to tolerate foreign culture.
It is evident that the benefits that South Africa is expected to receive due to the hosting of the World Cup are many. The economic benefits that have been discussed, have been found to be long term in nature, since the infrastructure developed will still be in place even after the World Cup is over. Hosting a World Cup has been seen as a challenging act, as governments have to invest billions of dollars to ensure that the activity is a success. The governments also have to invest in security, and collaborate with other governments so that threats may be neutralized as fast as possible. It is a challenge for other African countries to learn from South Africa and bid for subsequent World Cup tournaments, so that they might reap the benefits associated with hosting the event.
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