The World Cup trophy resides in Spain, South Africans are back to normal life (except for hosting the Tri Nations Rugby Tournament) and many people are reflecting on the month-long soccer love-in and wondering what comes next for both FIFA and South Africa.
First FIFA – With all the controversy around goal/no goal, I think FIFA will have to adopt replay technology for 2014 in Brazil. Let’s face it – it’s too bloody hard to score a goal in World Cup competition to have it taken away because the referee wasn’t watching or had a bad angle. The technology exists, is already used in soccer, and there’s no excuse not to use it.
The one thing FIFA did well this year was make money. Look for the targets to be set even higher in Brazil. Several industry publications estimated that the World Cup 2007 and 2010 generated over $1.6 billion in sponsorship revenue. That’s billion with a “B.” It is also estimated that Visa paid $170 million for its 2007-2014 rights, and Emirates Airline paid $195m. From what I saw on the ground in South Africa, I’m not sure Emirates exploited the relationship fully, but Visa absolutely did. Fans were wise to leave their MasterCards at home as all of the fan shops and all of the venues only accepted Visa. Fan parks and public viewing areas were branded with Visa signage and their tagline, “Go fans” was everywhere.
I suspect FIFA will have to re-examine its ticketing structure, however. It was too difficult (and expensive) to transfer/re-sell tickets according to their strict rules and in at least one instance (Japan vs. Paraguay) about 1/3 of the stands were empty. The luxury suites probably didn’t sell as well as FIFA hoped either, with many of them dark on game days. This is particularly an issue when fans are trying to project where their teams will be playing and purchase tickets in advance. British fans planned on England winning its group and when the US did, Brits were stuck with tickets to Rustenburg that American fans so desperately wanted. I am hoping that FIFA makes ticketing a lot more fan friendly four years from now.
In terms of hosting, South Africa set the bar very high for Brazil. It completed all of the stadiums and infrastructure work on time and with the exception of a few glitches early on with traffic and parking, the tournament ran very smoothly and safely. Security was tight and it showed. Like South Africa, Brazil faces challenges with crime, but it can take a lesson from this year’s hosts.
South Africa can take pride in successfully hosting an amazing tournament with no major problems, and it truly was the entire country that worked to welcome its guests. Despite all of the predictions of gloom and doom, crime and even terrorist activity, South Africa came through with flying colors.
The nation is at a very interesting time right now. The economy just received a huge boost but there are worries that a recession will now follow. It must work hard to maintain the momentum that the World Cup generated and attract repeat visitors and foreign investors. I’m guessing that South Africa will also begin work on another Olympic bid quite soon. It proved it can host an international tournament so an Olympics would not be a stretch.
All in all the World Cup was a wonderful event. It was a credit to South Africa that less than two decades after a fundamental shift in its government and society, it could host the world. Now if I can just get the buzz of vuvuzelas to stop ringing in my ears, I’ll be all set!
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Written by Stephanie Geosits