Sport is meant to unify people of all difference races, religions, and ages. It gives us immense highs and incredible lows whether we play or simply support a team. The great thing is it teaches us so much, respect, commitment, teamwork to name a few and makes us feel a part of something special.
Hosting major sporting events we are lead to believe brings huge national pride, which is often hard to dispute. After the event these host countries are left with what has become known as ‘The Legacy,’ and rarely does this live up to expectations.
The 2012 London Olympics was supposed to tick all of the boxes when it came to “The Legacy,” but it was announced in November last year by Dennis Hone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, that the Olympic stadium would not meet its reopening deadline of 2014. Instead the stadium would reopen in August 2015 with the stadium retaining a capacity of around 50,000 for athletics. On 22 March 2013, West Ham United Football Club secured a 99-year lease deal, with the stadium planned to be used as their home ground from the 2016–2017 season. In the meantime it sits empty and unused.
If we look at the last World Cup held in South Africa, the total cost was AUD$3.8 billion, 10 times more than what was originally planned. The wonderful new Cape Town stadium still struggles to host enough events to pay for its colossal maintenance. Some people are now calling for it to be demolished, others are proposing turning it into low-income housing.
Ten stadiums were created or refurbished to suitable standards for the World Cup, at a cost the South African government said was close to AUD$1.2billion, and three years later most need continuing subsidies from financially stressed local governments.
The games governing body ,FIFA, who control the television and sponsorship rights and did not pay any tax on their earnings in South Africa, as part of the bid process was that they were tax exempt, earned close to AUD3.7billion and returned to Zurich with a profit in the region of AUD$662million. South Africa’s own government report assessed that the tournament cost their country more than AUD3.3billion!
Is it therefore any wonder that the people of Brazil are publicly stating that they do not wish to host the World Cup? What sort of message does this send to the world that the nation that is so linked to Football, and who are to some the greatest exponents of ‘the beautiful game,’ do not want to host the greatest show on earth? This should be a case of “Football coming home.” Their reasons have nothing to do with the fact that they failed to lift the trophy when they last hosted the tournament in 1950, but everything to do with economics as the video clip attached will reveal.
At the start of this year Patrick Bond, director of the University of KwaZulu-Natal centre for civil society was quoted in the Guardian newspaper as saying “A World Cup could be held at much less expense if FIFA looked at a society’s needs and did not fetishise luxury. The tournament gave us a dizzy high, but the hangover, the inequality we have here and social unrest over economic problems, is brutal.”
There is no doubt in these tough economic times the cost is hard to justify, the excesses too great and the legacy negligible. The people are finding a voice and the governments and World sporting organisations must start to listen, a nation’s health and education should always come before a new stadium for a sporting event.