December 21, 2009
2010 presents itself as a great opportunity for business, especially with the FIFA World Cup being hosted in South Africa. However, the opportunities lie not in the way people expect them as the following book review spells out. To us ecopreneurs, the opportunities lie with South Africa being accorded 1st world status by being chosen as host for the games. With the eyes of the world on South Africa, Ecopreneurs will get a better shot at promoting their services and products for future export. The opportunities lie in the future, not as the so many people expect – during the 2010 World Cup
There will be no economic bonanza, according to a new book, and if experience matches the last World Cup in Germany, spending by visitors will be less than the South African government shelled out preparing for the tournament.
“The next World Cup will not be an aircraft dropping dollars on South Africa,” authors Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper write in the book Soccernomics.
The caveat comes ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup draw in Cape Town, 188 days before football’s showpiece tournament.
Using data analysis, history and psychology, the book punctures dozens of assumptions about what it takes to win, and who makes money in football – and in sports in general.
“The problem for South Africa was that they had to spend quite a lot to build stadiums,” Szymanski said in a telephone interview from London.
“Germany could afford this, and it had stadiums anyway. But South Africa is a nation that can ill afford to fritter away a few billion on white elephants.”
Following the 2002 World Cup, for instance, South Korea’s K-League had difficulties filling the 10 new stadiums built for the tournament at a cost of more than $2-billion.
The book’s argument is that hosting a World Cup or Olympics is an inefficient way to revitalise a city, or enrich a nation – especially one like South Africa, where a third of the population lives on less than $2 a day. It can boost a nation’s morale or image, but not much else.
“If you want to regenerate a poor neighbourhood, regenerate it,” Szymanski and Kuper write.
“If you want an Olympic pool and a warm-up track, build them. You could build pools and tracks all across London, and it would still be cheaper than hosting the Olympics.”
Szymanski, an economics professor at Cass Business School in London, and Kuper, a sports writer living in Paris, challenge plenty of accepted wisdoms. They even talk of opening a consulting firm for leagues and clubs, promising to improve performance and save money.
“We are not trying to take the magic out of soccer,” Szymanski said in the interview. “But we want to understand the patterns, because they are not completely random.”