The 2010 Football World Cup as a political construct: the challenge of making good on an African promise



It is today widely understood that sport mega-events are complex affairs which originate from specific sets of economic objectives but which have political and social corollaries that usually extend far beyond the event itself. Sport mega-events are generally initiated and driven by cadres of societal (ie, political and corporate) elites and are aimed at satisfying development goals or ambitions around projection, competitiveness or growth targets. In the planning, implementation and execution of events, however, cultural, social and other imprints are left that can have enduring impacts on the society. Further, the economy of sport mega-events has developed to such an extent internationally, that events have gained a self-perpetuating dynamic of their own, characterized by distinct coagulations of interests and the predominance of certain corporate actors. The gains that are widely thought to be made from participation in this mega-events ‘market’ prompt states continually to seek involvement: noticeably, once a country is able to break into the international arena of hosting mega-events, this stimulates the desire to attract more and often larger mega-events. Once on the mega-event circuit, there is an aspiration to host more of them (Hiller, 1998), often without proper attention to the economic and social counter-costs of events.

These aspects are highly visible in post-apartheid South Africa’s engagement with sport mega-events. Slightly more than a decade into the new democratic dispensation, sport mega-events have seemingly come to play an important socio-political role. Prompted by the successful hosting and victory of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, a more or less sustained campaign has been undertaken by political and other elites to make bids, with varying degrees of success, for the hosting of some of the most important events on the world sports tournament calendar. Underpinning this, at least from the government’s perspective, is an attempt to utilize sport mega-events as key social and political instruments: on the one hand events are regarded as one mechanism to support the government’s nation-building project, while on the other, they are viewed as economic and development catalysts. Rhetorically, bid processes or events themselves have been used to communicate key messages to the South African populace and the wider international community, partly with the purpose of shaping a new South African society, and partly with the aim of bolstering the so-called African Renaissance. In addition, in a society that remains nominally racially polarized, it has been sought to use major sport events as an instrument of reconciliation. The fact that a country’s ability to succeed in the arena of hosting mega-events signals international recognition, in terms of economic, social and political capacity, has also fuelled the South African government’s growing enthusiasm to invest the resources in often costly campaigns.

Winning the rights to host the FIFA Football World Cup Finals in 2010 has presented South Africa with both the opportunity to provide momentum to its mega-events campaign, driven as it is by specific socio-economic and political objectives, and the challenge of delivering – not only in the form of a successful tournament but also on the political and social promises on which South Africa’s bid campaigns have thus far been based. This seems a daunting task, no less for the fact that, despite the numerous attempts to host mega-events, only a slim foundation has been laid upon which South Africa could design goals and plans. In addition, in a developing context such as South Africa, the difficulty of balancing the initial investment of resources (which can be extensive), with the vast socio-economic exigencies of the country, is great. The debate on how resources should be spent most judiciously to benefit the South African society is one that pertinently colours the wider politics surrounding the planning towards the 2010 World Cup. In addition, the way in which South Africa manages the event, its successes and failures in this regard is widely regarded as an important test case, not only for the African continent, but developing countries more broadly.

This chapter assesses the prospects for the 2010 Finals as it is shaped by currently emerging political, economic and social processes. The thrust of this investigation is to explore the extent to which the ambitions and premises of the 2010 Finals – particularly claims towards using the event to support social and economic development, and the revival of the wider African continent – could be realized. This is done against the backdrop of assessments both of South Africa’s encounter with major events over the past twelve years and of the lessons to be learned from the hosting of mega-events by other countries. The first part of the chapter explores the main themes that characterize developed and developing countries’ experience with mega-events. The second part reviews the primary features of post-apartheid South Africa’s engagement with mega-events, highlighting some of the challenges and inconsistencies to the country’s approach. The concluding part discusses the implications of these features, and prospects for the 2010 World Cup. Progress with respect to planning and preparation has thus far been mixed. Important tasks remain in order for the country to deliver fully on the projections for the FIFA Finals.

Mega-events as mega-projects: promises and snares

The growth in the scale, visibility and significance of sport mega-events over the past few decades has been accompanied by increased scrutiny of the particular elements of which mega-events are composed and the factors that could lead to success or failure. ‘Booster’ campaigns typically over-emphasize the economic potential of sport mega-events, and their ability to attract foreign direct investment, bolster tourism growth and contribute to regeneration and broader developmental goals. A burgeoning body of research (eg, Coates & Humphreys, 1999; Eisinger, 2000; Ley & Olds, 1992; Owen, 2002) has, however, indicated that the drawbacks – not only economic but also political – to mega-events can efface most gains to be made from events in the first instance.

As far as the economic facets of mega-events are concerned, it is most commonly noted that there is a very fine balance between the benefits and costs associated with these events, and that there are fewer examples of success than there are of costly initiatives that have incurred great debt for hosts (eg, Teigland, 1999). Further, while mega-events may stimulate investments and developments in the broader economy of an aspiring or current host, gains from these may be offset by the way in which mega-events are organized, and the particular set of corporate interests tied to an event. This, along with other non-economic factors, may translate into much of the anticipated spin-offs from mega-events not materializing. For instance, analyses of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, illustrate the complexity of forecasting financial and tourism impacts in the face of manifold exogenous factors. Costly undertakings for both states – South Korea built ten new stadia at a cost of nearly US $2 bn, while Japan constructed seven new stadia and refurbished three others at a cost of US $4 bn (Horne & Manzenreiter, 2004) – the tournament notoriously under-delivered on the expectations of the respective organizers. Replacement spending and a ‘crowding out effect’, where tourists replace other visitors who would normally visit the host venues, were apparent (Matheson & Baade, 2003; Horne & Manzenreiter, 2004). Indeed, Lee and Taylor (2005) suggest that the actual tourist arrivals to Korea may have fallen more than one-third short of predictions, and been much lower than tourist arrivals in the same month of the previous year.

Aside from the economic outcomes, sport mega-events can leave several other legacies that can persist long beyond bidding campaigns and tournaments have come to an end. These include the development of infrastructure both before and after events either to enhance a bidder’s prospects of hosting an event (in the case of bid campaigns), or to maximize the investment impetus that usually characterizes the build-up to events. Cape Town’s bid for the 2004 Olympic Games (discussed in some greater detail below) is exemplary of the former, where as part of the developmental philosophy that underlay the bid, and in anticipation of the momentum even a failed bid would give to the city’s economic sector (largely from increased publicity), several urban and sports infrastructure projects were initiated up to one year before the announcement of the host was made by the International Olympic Committee (Hiller, 2000; Swart & Bob, 2004). While these projects still mark the landscape of the city, few have contributed substantially to subsequent development programmes, or have been incorporated into the planning related to other mega-events in which the city has been involved.

Another legacy that is often overlooked, but may be more significant and lasting in its impacts, is the political counter-effects that the rhetorical arguments used in support of bid campaigns, or even during events themselves, can evoke. Generally, developing countries tend to use sports mega-events in ways highly distinct from developed countries. A growing body of research (eg, Nauright & Schimmel, 2005; Black & van der Westhuizen, 2004) suggests that, partly because developing countries face conditions that do not extend to their more developed counterparts, and partly because developing states are circumscribed by an unequal global arena in their competition to host events, they often seek to use mega-events to meet specific political or foreign policy goals: as a way of signalling particular messages to the international community; as a means of engaging in international activities far beyond what objective measures of their international capacity would enable (ie, ‘punching above their weight’); and as a mechanism to compensate for the lack of sources of power and influence in the international sphere. In this way recent activism around sport mega-events by Malaysia (eg, Van der Westhuizen, 2001), the People’s Republic of China (Haugen, 2003), and South Africa (Cornelissen, 2004b) can be understood as attempts by these states to attain certain foreign policy goals, such as image enhancement and profiling, along with gaining economic advantage from mega-events. As will be illustrated below, a distinctive and persistent feature of South Africa’s bid and event campaigns has been the country’s use of particular symbolic arguments based on its status as an African country. Such rhetoric was geared to maximizing support from both domestic and international constituencies. As effective as political and other rhetoric may be in certain instances, however, it could also rebound dangerously and jeopardize the campaigns driven by developing countries (Black & Van der Westhuizen, 2004).

Overall, sport mega-events can evolve or transpire in very singular fashions in developing countries, shaped by unique sets of factors resulting from a colonial past, or societal complexities. Nonetheless, there is an overarching political economy to mega-events that commonly affect developing and developed states. This includes the corporate coalitions that emerge in all bidding and event hosting processes. Such coalitions could have major imprints on events, for example in the way that sponsorship and publicity arrangements can determine the form and overall character that events can take (see Nauright & Schimmel, 2005 in this regard). Further, first-order events such as the FIFA World Cup, by sheer global reach (through media coverage), scale of spectatorship and yields through the sale of memorabilia, have immense revenue potential. As such the World Cup is a profit-driven endeavour in the first instance, and FIFA seeks to maintain taut control of all Finals. This involves strict regulation of the number and quality of stadia that are used by hosts – broadly, given the manner in which Finals are organized, FIFA generally requires the availability of ten stadia of high standard, spread across the entire country, that are able to accommodate 32 teams and 64 matches – but can extend to the publicity material and promotional campaigns tied to a Finals (through pre-established FIFA sponsorship agreements) and even the unique ‘brand’ that is developed for each Finals.1 As is discussed more extensively below, the circumscription that FIFA maintains on all Finals, including the 2010 Finals in South Africa, have from an early stage had a significant impact on the political wrangling that arose shortly after the event was awarded to South Africa in mid-2004. More importantly, FIFA’s regulation on how the event is organized may have repercussions on the South African government’s objectives with respect to using the Finals for developmental and nation-building purposes. This only increases the challenges of delivering on the promises made by the South African campaign.

Other factors that play a role in how preparation for the 2010 World Cup unfolds, and how the event in itself may transpire, arise from the very specific manner in which South Africa has sought to use events instrumentally, to accomplish specific political goals, and have accordingly tailored bid campaigns and other hosted, major events. The next section briefly outlines the main features of the politics of South Africa’s mega-events activism and how this sets the context for the country’s hosting of the 2010 Finals.

Rhetoric and rationale: the features of South Africa’s mega-events drive

South Africa’s successful hosting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup set in motion an activism around sport mega-events that was cumulative in its ambitions and objectives. This was partly driven by a demonstration effect that led to growing confidence that the country had the requisite capacity to host international events of a particular scale and significance, and partly drew from the unexpected non-material benefits that the Rugby World Cup had brought. Occurring at the cusp of South Africa’s democratization and attempts by the post-apartheid government to forge a new society, victory of the Rugby World Cup seemingly united the highly divided and racialised society (Black & Nauright, 1998). This provided the impetus for a clear political (ie, nation- building) objective around sport mega-events that were to continue beyond the Rugby World Cup (Grundlingh, 1998).

Buoyed by an ostensible demonstration effect, South Africa disposed itself to become more extensively involved in the mega-events circuit. In 1996 it hosted and won the African Cup of Nations, the two-yearly continental football competition that is held under the auspices of the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF), the African football governing body. In the early 1990s Cape Town launched its bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games; from 1998 onwards South Africa made a failed bid attempt to host the 2006 FIFA Finals, which was successfully re-launched a few years later; and in 2003 the country hosted a fruitful, if politically marred Cricket World Cup. In 2003 South Africa also successfully hosted the President’s Cup, a prestigious international golf tournament. This event had one important spin-off, in that South Africa hosted the international Women’s Golf Cup in 2004. In an attempt to draw from the legacy of success of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the South African Rugby Football Association (SARFU) made a failed bid for the 2011 Finals (which eventually were awarded to New Zealand). It is noteworthy that this campaign, and the reception of the eventual outcome, was decidedly more muted than some of the other popular sport events campaigns described below. In part, this may reflect the racial division that still characterizes sport in South Africa, with (despite the emotional success of the 1995 Rugby World Cup) football or soccer still being the sport of preference and identity association for the majority of South Africa’s population (see for instance Alegi, 2004).

South Africa seemingly therefore, has embraced the ideology of the ‘sport-media-tourism’ complex (Nauright, 2004) and like many other developing countries is seeking to promote an event-driven economy. This has not occurred without evoking extensive dispute over the desirability and feasibility of the South African government’s strategy. Opponents of South Africa’s numerous bid attempts argue that the resources spent during the bidding process can be better used for social and economic development programmes aimed at alleviating poverty (Hiller, 2000). Eisinger (2000) adds that while these ventures enable some people to benefit economically, they do little to change the position and plight of the majority of people who are marginalized. On the other hand, proponents of bidding in South Africa assert that the hosting of mega-events will result in economic and other benefits – such as job creation, destination marketing, and the development of national pride – that far exceed initial investments.

Two features predominate in South Africa’s bidding and overall mega-events activism. The first is a strong developmental thrust to the country’s bidding campaigns and a characteristic attempt, through the use of specific rhetoric and lobbying, to infuse political discourse and common understanding of mega-events with a developmental philosophy. First utilized to a substantial degree in Cape Town’s failed bid for the 2004 Olympic Games, the developmental argument has been a recurring feature of subsequent bids. A second, related feature, has been the promotion of a particular conception of the African continent, and an overall tailoring of bid campaigns or even hosted events around arguments of the need for Africa’s revival – and axiomatically the obligation on the international community to reward all efforts towards this end, including South Africa’s goals of furthering the so-called African Renaissance through political programmes. Notably, these two features have often accounted for outright failures of South Africa’s bid campaigns or have threatened to jeopardize the course that hosted events have followed.

The Cape Town Olympic bid

The processes around Cape Town’s Olympic Bid (CTOB) are reflective of the sabotaging effects that the developmental argument, along with internal political strife, had on the city’s prospects of being awarded the event. Moreover, many of these miscalculations or errors have continually appeared in subsequent event campaigns.

The Cape Town bid saw a lengthy period of gestation. Raymond Ackerman, a leading businessperson, initiated it in 1990. South Africa underwent a national bidding process and the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) selected Cape Town as the candidate city in 1994. The Ackerman bid, however, was not wholly supported by NOCSA who wanted to wait until the 1994 inaugural democratic elections, to gain the support of national government, and chose not to be aligned with the Ackerman bid (De Lange, 1998). In 1995, the Ackerman group was ousted and a new bid company was instituted under the leadership of Chris Ball, a prominent former banker. Hiller (2000) contends that at this stage the bid became more visibly a partnership between the public and private sectors as well as an instrument of national government policy.

The national cabinet committed to underwriting the costs of the Olympic Games (a requirement of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)) in 1996, and this was supported by guarantees signed by provincial, metropolitan and local levels of government. In addition, Fuller (personal communication, 2004) notes that the government had agreed to directly fund the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (OCOG) with R3 305 million (approximately US$ 905 million). It is important to note that support for the bid went beyond these groupings, as all political parties and labour unions, as well as the Cape Town community generally supported the bid. It could be argued that without the developmental underpinnings of the bid, it may have not have garnered the widespread support it did achieve.

Cape Town competed against ten other cities in the race to host the 2004 Games. It was also the first time that there were so many developing cities that participated in the bid, namely Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro. At the IOC session at which the Olympic host city was selected in September 1997, the IOC members voted by secret ballot, and by a simple majority the host city – Athens – was determined.

Importantly, the Cape Town bid presented a first opportunity for South Africa to engage in both place promotion and identity construction. At the time, a strongly promoted idea in South Africa was that since the Olympic Movement was the first to expel South Africa from international sport, it should be the first to welcome it back by awarding the 2004 Games. Cape Town purposely made an appeal to the symbolism of giving the Games to Africa. Hosting the Games in South Africa could be seen as playing a role in the rejuvenation of the continent (Olympic Assessment Team, 1997).

The developmental nature of the bid was evident in the location and nature of the proposed development of infrastructure and in the entire ethos that underlay the bid book. The building of facilities required by the hosting of major events is often legitimated on the grounds of the benefits of the infrastructure to the local community and the consequent sports development that this will promote (Standeven & De Knop, 2000). Whitson and Macintosh (1996) note that since these facilities are required for elite sport, the facilities are often too large and too sophisticated for general community use. To counter this argument in favour of civic investment, the CTOB focused on the development of training venues throughout the various communities within the province of the Western Cape (of which Cape Town is the capital). The location of these venues was decided upon after consultation with various local sport federations. They were located in areas of assumed potential sport growth. They were also designed in a way that would lend itself to multipurpose use, for maximum utilization by the respective communities. Overall, long-term community requirements were given as much priority as the technical requirements for the hosting of the Games as set out by the IOC.

Cape Town went beyond the use of major event facilities for local sports development, as the underlying philosophy of the bid was ‘developmental.’ The principle of ‘human development’ distinguished Cape Town’s bid from its competitors. Moreover, it was the first bid in the history of the Games which sought to promote the ideal of human development as the fourth pillar of Olympism, the others being sport, culture and the environment. Its aim was to use the Olympic Games as a platform to improve the lives of all its citizens, especially those who were disadvantaged by apartheid, as well as to redesign the structure of the apartheid city (Olympic Assessment Team, 1997). Thus it is evident that the Olympic Games became an apparent instrument of government policy related to the development of a ‘new’ South Africa2.

Comparing Cape Town’s bid to that of the other bid cities, De Lange (1998) reported a number of weaknesses. Most significantly, strategic faults were displayed by NOCSA. The ousting of the original bidding committee led to the loss of services of experienced international consultants and left the new team with little time to prepare. One of the major criticisms levelled against the bid pertained to the high level of crime in South Africa, an issue that was not adequately dealt with by the Bid Committee, whilst the problem of visitors’ safety was a constant worry for IOC decision-makers. It is worth underscoring, however, that a significant aspect of the issue of crime in South Africa is linked to perceptions and the way in which the international media portrays criminal activities and rates. The problems pertaining to dealing with perceptions remain widespread for developing countries competing in a markedly unequal global system.

Relatedly, as South Africa had only recently returned to the arena of international sport, it did not have the experience other cities had in being able to host major sporting events, particularly Olympic sports. Ingerson and Westerbeek (2000) argue that the experience and knowledge of the bid team structure plays a critical role in bidding success. This experience is built up over time and provides the opportunity to build relationships with the event promoters. In the case of the Cape Town bid, discussions with key African sport leaders and African IOC members occurred too late. Bearing in mind that it was an African bid, key figures in Africa’s sporting movement should have been consulted in the initial phases of the bid. Further, the overarching developmental argument and the strong use of symbolism, seemingly served to alienate, rather than ingratiate IOC evaluators. Athens’s success with its bid, for instance, has been attributed to bid campaigners emphasizing less the role of the city as the birthplace of the modern Olympics (as was the case in the city’s failed bid for the 1996 Games), but rather the city’s experience in hosting major international sporting events, the availability of high-technology sports complexes and plans to construct new stadia (Pappas, 1997).

The FIFA bid processes and the Cricket World Cup

The CTOB provided an opportunity for South Africa to present a new image to the world, signalling the beginning of the post-apartheid era and re-entry on to the global stage. Yet it also laid the foundation for much miscalculation and misdirected strategies that were replicated in some of the major bids and events that were to follow. Most significant of these were the processes and outcomes of the bids for the FIFA 2006 and 2010 World Cups and the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Although the bids for the FIFA and the Cricket World Cup were multifaceted and distinctive in their nature and outflows, it is possible to highlight a few common and important features (see Cornelissen, 2004a and 2004b for extensive reviews). The first is the directed way in which all three were designed around and driven by a keen desire to promote South Africa’s status as an African country, and the manner in which key arguments around Africa’s revitalization were used to gain support from domestic and international constituencies. This was most conspicuous in the slogan upon which the 2006 bid was initially based, that is, ‘It’s Africa’s Turn!’ In all instances, there was a marked attempt by the South African government to use bid and event campaigns to shore up wider foreign policy goals with respect to the African continent. As such, the international relations between the South African government and national sports management figures, and officials of FIFA and the International Cricket Council (ICC), had an overriding purpose: mutually to increase the global statesmanship of the other through the common support of the ‘African cause.’ In this way, for instance, the ICC saw an opportunity to globalize the sports discipline by awarding the event to an African state, while at the same time raising its own moral stature.

A second feature is that despite well-intentioned pan-African campaigns, the rhetorical and political utilization of ‘Africa’ had rebounded several times: in the case of the 2006 FIFA bid an under-sophisticated campaign did little justice to the pan-African drive of the bid (this was later addressed in the bid for the 2010 Finals); while in the case of the Cricket World Cup exogenous factors – which included political controversy surrounding Zimbabwe and fears of terror attacks in Kenya – disrupted the distributionist goals of the event.

A strong pan-African element still underlies the 2010 Finals. Although this does not take the form of a multi-country tournament as with the Cricket World Cup – while some Southern African countries will be drawn in to provide training venues, all competition venues will be located in South Africa – there is a robust, public discourse that places emphasis on gaining as much out of the event for the African continent, particularly with respect to changing international perceptions of existing capacity. Nonetheless, boosterist campaigns during the bid process have created a highly expectant domestic population, who are in anticipation of sustained economic and tourism growth and employment opportunities. Aside from this, planning processes have been marred by political dispute and other controversies from an early stage. These and other factors provide the parameters by which build-up to the event, and its eventual characteristics, take shape. It is to a discussion of the contexts and major influencing factors that will determine the prospects for the 2010 Finals that the chapter now turns.

Making good on an African promise: controversies, claims and prospects

Much criticism against mega-events as a catalyst to tourism and economic development is focused on the extent and costs of bidding processes (Jones, 2001). Gamage and Higgs (1997) note that the public costs associated with bidding are generally not subject to public debate and accountability. Slack (1998) further notes that the commercialization of sport has reduced benefits for host economies in favour of commercial sponsors. This has important implications for the economic justification of these events. Events also have significant social impacts, and since events are usually controlled and organized by international sport federations outside of the region, local authorities are unwilling or unable to mitigate (Hiller, 1998). All of these factors are relevant to the possibilities and restrictions that surround the 2010 FIFA Finals. Added to this, political factors and internal strife have emerged as important constraints in the early planning phases of the event.

On 27 October 2004, the South African government and FIFA signed the Organization Association Agreement to formalise the country’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup (SA 2010 Bid Company, n.d.a). While Joseph Blatter, the FIFA president and a long-standing supporter of South Africa’s bid noted that, ‘South Africa needs a perfect organization to show the world it is possible to do it here’ (SA 2010 Bid Company, n.d.b), two early events cast a shadow on the initial enthusiasm surrounding the awarding of the event to South Africa. The first was when, shortly after the announcement of South Africa’s winning bid in June 2004, the South African Football Association (SAFA), the national football management body and the institution responsible for overseeing the organization of the event, became mired in controversy over its finances (the body had been close to bankruptcy for many years prior). Second, at the end of 2004 a highly public dispute broke out within SAFA over the constitution of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), the panel of people responsible for implementing, in collaboration with FIFA, all arrangements. Mainly, the contention centred on whether Danny Jordaan, who had led both South African bids for 2006 and 2010, or higher-ranked officials within SAFA (such as the president of the body) should be the chairperson of the LOC. Due to personality clashes, a fairly strong constituency existed within SAFA (in stark contrast to popular social sentiment) that favoured Jordaan to be sidelined. The matter was resolved when Blatter intervened and indicated his preference for Jordaan. Media and public assessments of the dispute were largely negative; the affair was seen as an embarrassment (Business Day, 13 January 2005). Later in 2005 the LOC and the progress made in planning towards the major event, was dismissively assessed by the media, when it was reported that, at a comparable stage, the German organizers of the 2006 Finals had accomplished much more (Mail and Guardian, 25 April, 2005).

More recently, evaluations of the manner in which the LOC is carrying out its tasks, have been shaped by the politics around the selection of match venues. The debate on the infrastructural and economic legacies, the distribution of these, and access to opportunities, has also started to intensify. The South African 2010 bid revised some of its 2006 proposals, notably extending the number of stadia from nine to thirteen. Of these, seven were stated to require minor upgrading, three major upgrading and three were to be newly constructed (SA 2010 Bid Company, n.d.b). As with the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid, the upgrading of training venues formed a significant part of the developmental bid, as illustrated in the following statement: ‘The training ground upgrade programme forms a crucial part of the overall strategy to leave a lasting legacy. SAFA is firmly resolved to provide facilities that meet every FIFA requirement and, when the tournament is over, continue to have a positive, relevant impact on local communities for decades to come.’ (South Africa 2010 Bid Book, 2003, p. 10). By 2005, however, under the encouragement of FIFA, the LOC had announced its decision to reduce the number of stadia participating in the event once again to ten.

Given that much of the support for the 2006 and 2010 bid campaigns were secured on promises to spread the potential outflows as far as possible – and thus by including as many sites or cities as possible venues (Cornelissen, 2004b) – the reduction of the number of stadia was not well received by urban authorities, who had already mobilised and established boosterist partnerships. Although contracts are due to be concluded with host cities by March 2006, lobbying and conflict around the final selection of stadia is likely to continue for a while longer, since the final FIFA inspection will only take place in June 2008 (Claasen, 2004).

Several major infrastructure development (or mega-) projects have also been tied to the event. Notably, these mega-projects have already become politically controversial affairs. Some of these developmental projects that will be fast-tracked as a result of the bid include a large initiative to establish a train commuter linkage between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the two major urban centres in Gauteng (South Africa’s most densely populated and economically significant province), and the establishment of a new international airport at Durban, one of the country’s major cities (Philip & Donaldson, 2004).

Nationally, planning and preparation have been initiated by agencies such as the South African Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which has secured a R50 million loan from the African Development Bank to start upgrading South Africa’s infrastructure ahead of 2010. In addition, the IDC together with the Development Bank of Southern Africa has created a business unit, 2010! SWC Business Funding, to assess infrastructural requirements and how this can be sustained with maximum utility value (Pillay, 2005). The 2010! SWC Business Funding unit will aim to provide various types of funding to medium and large businesses for all opportunities related to the event beyond that of construction (Venter, 2004). The focus will be on transactions that will deliver key developmental imperatives such as job creation, black economic empowerment, and assisting in the regeneration of historically black townships (Venter, 2004).

It is clear that early organization and preparation are focused on upgrading South Africa’s underdeveloped public transport system, as well as addressing the economic and spatial legacies of apartheid. Event-specific requirements (such as the availability of sufficiently sized stadia and the ability to bring spectators to events) dictate that infrastructural requirements related to accommodation and transport become even more pressing. Initial desires to capture as much support as possible in the bidding stages, however, may have enduring impacts as far as the selection and capacity of venues is concerned. Further, as Jones (2001) indicates, negotiations between host authorities and world organizing bodies often have major implications for the success and impact of an event, but are rarely in the public domain. Infrastructural developments, which serve as a legacy for the host region, are also used as a justification for these types of events. These facilities, however, generally do not serve the purposes of the local community and are often under-utilized (Higham, 1999). The approach of using designated training venues to serve community purposes better (as was the case in the 2004 Cape Town Olympic Bid) is evident in some of the initiatives that the City of Cape Town has for instance undertaken. Improved community facilities will in all likelihood increase community participation in sport, and consequently enhance the quality of life. The question remains, however: ‘At what costs?’

The organizers of the 2010 World Cup Finals will need to ensure that the expenditure impact is not restricted in its geographical and temporal spread, so that critical potential additional spending within the regions is not lost. For example, as tourism distribution in South Africa is unevenly spread (Visser, 2004; Cornelissen, 2005), to what extent do the 2010 plans redress or enhance these inequities? South Africa, and some regions in particular, such as the Western Cape province, should maximize opportunities for additional visitor spend as this event will be taking place outside the normal tourism season, thus reducing the usual impact of seasonality. A critical question remains as to the extent to which local companies would be able to benefit from marketing, licensing and hospitality attached to the games, as these key revenue streams for FIFA are tightly controlled. For the 2006 FIFA Football World Cup, to be held in Germany, expenditure-related issues tend to be most contested between FIFA, the LOC, the host cities and regional governments (Walters, 2005: 20). Walters (2005) adds that in order to deal with developmental and economic aspects of sponsorship, it is critical for negotiations to take place with the LOC prior to the signing of host city contracts, to enable local suppliers and sponsors to offset government costs. The equivalent in South Africa would lead to the creation of a marketing platform that would provide impetus to the ‘Proudly South African’ campaign, which encourages the purchases of South African goods and services. Managing the high expectations of local businesses, however, will perhaps be one of the most significant challenges.

It would also be necessary for South Africa in general, and the LOC in particular, to ensure that its organizational capability is not questioned so that South Africa is portrayed positively in the media and that ‘Africa can deliver’ in the global arena of mega-events. South Africa should also ensure that its strategy of hosting major sport events serves to build institutional capacity across different related sectors, such as tourism, trade and investment. Education and awareness of how to leverage the associated benefits will be critical. Chalip (2004: 228) notes that since events are legitimized on economic grounds, event organizers, destination marketers and the political elite have an obligation to deliver the best economic impact. In order for mega-events to have a sustainable positive impact on local communities, understanding how these events work, and how to leverage the associated opportunities, is critical. Leveraging refers to the processes through which the benefits of investments are maximized. Chalip (2004: 228) notes that immediate event leveraging includes activities intended to maximize visitor spending, use local supply chains and build new markets. In contrast, he asserts that long-term leveraging seeks to use events to build the host destination’s image in order to enhance the quality of its brand or its market position (Chalip, 2004). As foreign investment is critical to local economic development, place marketing via 2010 can play an important role in mobilising local stakeholders and attracting investment (Wyatt, 2004).

Finally, it is critical that the theme of an ‘African’ World Cup is woven into all aspects of the Games and that key African stakeholders are involved from the beginning. An important lesson learned from the CTOB bid was that it is imperative to include African leaders within the federation in all phases of the Games, particularly in the initial stages. At this stage it is uncertain how many non-ticket holders, particularly from the rest of Africa will travel to be part of the event. According to the Department of Transport’s World Cup Project Team (2005), if South Africa sees the promise of delivery on an African World Cup as significant, the implications of greater involvement of African citizens creates a greater demand for travel. With a population and national economy as unstable and vulnerable as that of South Africa’s, it is imperative that the country should be aware of the pitfalls of World Cup boosterism, and that the government be as transparent as possible (Wyatt, 2004). In addition, government spending should be carefully monitored as critical expenditures could be cut pre- and post-2010.


As a relative newcomer to, and an African participant in, the global sports mega-events ‘circuit’, South Africa has experienced marked success with bidding campaigns and with the events the country has hosted. To date, preparation towards the 2010 World Cup has been of a varied nature, with some early planning triumphs and some, significant, miscalculations. The developmental and wider political objectives tied to the hosting of the World Cup constitute significantly self-imposed parameters to South Africa’s efforts. These, along with the overall success of the tournament would be the most important indicators by which South Africa’s role as a host would in future be measured. In all, despite the clear advantages tied to sports mega-events, they can also place excessive fiscal, management and social burdens on a country. For South Africa, the principal challenge lies not only in garnering the requisite economic and material resources, but also in effectively managing these. Long-term and broad-based development goals that reach beyond the event itself, however, should constitute the primary bases upon which planning and organization take place.


  • 1

    For instance, the sports manufacturer, Adidas, owns the right to produce the footballs used in all FIFA and UEFA (the European football association affiliated to FIFA) Finals. For each competition, new footballs are manufactured by the firm. Adidas also undertakes a marketing campaign whereby it develops a ‘name’ for the event football, which usually takes on an idiosyncratic characteristic of the host country. For example, the name given to the matchballs for the 1998 World Cup, held in France, was ‘Tricolore’, while that for the 2002 finals hosted by Japan and South Korea, was ‘Fevernova.’ The ball manufactured for the 2004 European finals, held in Portugal, was ‘Roteiro.’

  • 2

    Hiller (2000) notes the main ways in which the bid was ‘developmental’: it would act as a transformational catalyst accelerating change; contribute to the construction of facilities in disadvantaged areas; promote the development of quality sport facilities supporting community sport programmes; serve as a human resource opportunity; contribute to the stock of affordable housing; generate greater support for small business; and add to urban integration of the transport system.