Hosting 2010 World Cup worth "intangible legacy" to South Africa claims new report

By Duncan Mackay

South Africa_2010_World_Cup_Opening_CeremonyNovember 26 - Hosting the 2010 World Cup was worth "intangible legacy" to South Africa, despite costing the country more than $3 billion (£2 billion/€2.5 billion), the Government's final report has concluded.  

In the "2010 FIFA World Cup Country Report," released nearly two-and-a-half years after the event, South Africa's Government revealed it spent $1.1 billion (£687 million/€848 million) on building and upgrading stadiums alone.

Transport was the biggest cost, with $1.3 billion (£812 million/€1 billion) dedicated to improving road, rail and air links and a further $392 million (£245 million/€302 million) on the country's main ports of entry.

In the absence of any final definitive figures on how much South Africa earned in total from being the first country in Africa to host the event, the report said the World Cup had left an intangible legacy of pride and unity among South Africans and had changed the country's image as undeveloped, crime-ridden and dangerous in the eyes of the rest of the world.

"To top it all, we didn't have lions roaming the streets and we did have ATMs," the report, published by the Ministry of Sport, added light-heartedly, a reference to some of the scare stories that were circulating before the start of the event.

It did predict a $6 billion (£4 billion/€5 billion) boost to South Africa's economy as a result of the tournament, according to a study by risk analysis and finance company Grant Thornton, but that was a mid to long-term projection.

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FIFA reported it made a $631 million (£394 million/€487 million) profit from the 2007-2010 World Cup cycle and earned income of $3.65 billion (£2.28 billion/€2.81 billion) from 2010 World Cup contracts.

FIFA said it spent $1.298 billion (£811 billion/€1.001 billion) on the World Cup in South Africa and also gave $100 million (£62 million/€77 million) to the World Cup Legacy Trust, a fund that supports grassroots development projects.

The Government claimed that the report would add as a benchmark for future bids from South Africa for major events, including the Olympics and Paralympics.

A proposed bid for 2020 never materialised but support is growing for Durban or Cape Town to be put forward for 2024 as Africa seeks to host the Games for the first time.

Leading South African economists backed the report's conclusion that hosting the World Cup should be measured in more than just financial terms, despite the fact that many of the stadia built for the event are struggling to make themselves pay.

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"For R27bn I would host the World Cup anytime," said Dawie Roodt, chief economist at the Efficient Group.

"It was money well spent.

"It's one of those things that are unprofitable but highly beneficial to the country.

"We hosted a magnificent World Cup and you can't put a price on that.

"The legacy that we have gained is priceless.

"You cannot do a normal calculation to work out if the country profited from the World Cup, because we have gained a long lasting legacy and that's most important.

"The World Cup cost R27bn - that is less than three per cent of the Government's total spending in a year.

"So in the bigger scheme of things it was well worth it."

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