LONDON: A further spotlight on the responsibility of governments and cities to understand the profits and losses of hosting sport’s mega events has been underlined by a critical report on the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Significantly it comes shortly after the Norwegian government deciding that the losses outweighed the gains of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, to the baffled fury of the International Olympic Committee which could not believe a country might think other priorities should take precedence over hosting a sports event.
The latest report has been delivered by the Swiss sustainability pressure group Solidar after an economic review of the World Cup undertaken in cooperation with the Heinrich Boll institute.
Solidar’s Joachim Merz said: “It is outrageous that FIFA has successfully ensured that the World Cup costs were all borne by the Brazilian state while FIFA reaps the profits.”
The report deals with the finals in terms of facts and figures without considering the intangibles which accrue to a country and/or city as a result of a positive hosting experience. Nor did the report address the extent to which a host nation might ‘stretch’ its hosting as did the Brazilians by choosing to use an unnecessarily high number of far-flung venues.
Solidar assessed Brazil 2014 as the “most expensive [World Cup] of all time” and which was “marred by evictions and human rights abuses.”
FIFA, however, emerged with record revenues and Solidar Sussie called on FIFA “to finally take their responsibility [more seriously].”
It added that “a damning picture” had been generated by the work of Marilene de Paula, lead researcher for the Heinrich Böll Institute.
She noted: “Before the World Cup hopes were huge: The World Cup should bring the country new jobs, investment and better infrastructure.
“The bitter reality is that only temporary jobs were created, mainly in construction and tourism; investment by private companies did not materialise; and infrastructure projects, especially in public transport, were slashed.”
Main critical points claimed by the report:
Brazil invested $13.3bn
Host city debts increased by 51pc
Non-host city debts increased by (only) 20pc
The World Cup represented only 0.7pc of gdp
Ticket prices were more expensive than ever before: the average seat price in Brazil was $62.30 ($36.40 in Germany 2006, $33.80 in South Africa 2010).
‘White elephant’ stadia losses were estimated at £4m
Of 350,000 street vendors only 4,000 were admitted within the stadia security zones (Many of the poorest thus lost their source of income)
An estimated 250,000 people were displaced and resettled often by force and without compensation
Many planned infrastructure projects were cancelled, including more than a third of public transport projects – or completed after the World Cup.
Among the sad legacies of the World Cup include repression against the social protests and militarization.
However FIFA, according to Solidar, would reap “record revenue of $4-5bn from Brazil and can expect a profit of up to $3bn.”
Solidar Suisse, in summing up, urged FIFA TO “demand World Cup host countries respect human rights and international labour standards, end tax privileges and fully consider the needs of ‘casual’ workers.”