Hosting a major event such as the World Cup is often seen as an honor by the citizens of the hosting country. But at the end of the day, is it really a benefit or a burden? Do countries generate great profits from these events, or do they find themselves with much more problems than they already had before?
South Africa, the last country to host the World Cup has stated that the country has had more losses than profit from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The income generated from the event were only enough to cover the costs made by the federal government regarding the constructions of venues and investments in infrastructure, however, the local governments did not profit from this income.
Most countries hosting the World Cup have reported more losses than profit and this has happened to rich countries like Germany and Japan, that did not have so much work to do in terms of infrastructure. Having that in mind, what will happen to Brazil, that will practically have to build another country to host the event?
Not every Brazilian is happy with the hosting of the World Cup. Specialists and intellectuals claim that the event will bring more losses than profit to Brazil and we should not be naïve to the point of believing that such event will be able to change the Brazilian socioeconomic scenario.
A specialist who shares this opinion is professor Argemiro Luís Brum, from Unijuí, who states that “it is not a matter of being against sports, but a matter of being against the compromise of resources that were initially destined to basic services such as education, health, safety and housing for all Brazilians, especially those living in the countryside, who will only get to watch the matches on TV and this if they have electricity.”
Brazil clearly has got other priorities to be considered before investing so much money in the World Cup. The Brazilian government has effectively taken money originally destined to basic services and invested it in the construction of venues for the World Cup.
This is the case of Itaquerão stadium, that is being built in the eastern area of São Paulo city. Even though the local prefecture had said that not a single penny of public money would be used in the construction of venues for the World Cup, in the end he and the state governor have invested BRL 510 million in the construction of the venue. This amount of money is equivalent to 16 hospitals, 10.500 houses or 100 technical schools.
Those who are more positive, see the World Cup as an opportunity to improve the services already offered in Brazil and to promote the country. They believe that this is our opportunity to show foreigners that we can take care of a major event and also to promote our cities in order to attract tourists.
Even those who do not believe that the effect the World Cup will have on tourism will effectively change anything believe that Brazilians as a whole will benefit from the improvement of the airports, roads and public transportation.
Apart from Rio de Janeiro and some cities in the Northeast, Brazil is not a major destination for tourists, so there had never been too much concern about internationalizing the country. This has started to change recently and the main reason for it is that the country is going to host two major sports events and every Brazilian would like to get some money out of it.
The street vendor who sells bikinis on the beach would like to extend the sales to foreigners who would be in Brazil during the World Cup or the Olympics, so he/she would put on some effort in trying to learn some English, at least enough to say how much the bikinis cost and what are the payment options.
In order to promote the access to the learning of a foreign language, several initiatives have been taken. Online and classroom courses have been offered to high school students, taxi drivers, maids and other professionals who will be directly in touch with the foreign tourists coming to Brazil. Even employees working at the Municipal Market of São Paulo (Mercadão Municipal) have started to take English classes in order to meet the demand of foreign tourists.
Also, the more we walk around São Paulo city, the more we see information available in both English and Portuguese. This is the case of shopping malls, subways and even buses.
Many cities will have to significantly increase the number of hotels and restaurants that might end up obsolete once the World Cup is over. It will take a lot of effort for these cities to promote themselves as a desirable touristic destination and keep up the touristic activity once the tourists attracted by the sports events are gone.
On the other hand, the World Cup will promote the decentralization of the touristic activity in Brazil (mostly restricted to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and the coastal cities of the Northeast) and give other cities the opportunity to promote themselves as touristic destinations, what would generate jobs and strengthen the local economy.
The Sports Minister, Orlando Silva, has stated that the 2014 World Cup would generate 700.000 jobs in Brazil. According to him, 380.000 job positions would be created during the country’s preparation for the event and the rest would be created during the event itself.
The construction industry is pointed out as the one that is going to receive more benefits from the World Cup as a significant part of the preparation for the event requires construction services (construction of venues and infrastructure works like the restoration of ports, airports and roads).
The second industry to benefit from the World Cup is the tourism one. Hotels and restaurants will have to hire more qualified employees, what can increase the salary range in Brazilian cities where it is hard to find English-speaking workers.
On the other hand, the 2006 World Cup, held in Germany, has proved that the expectations regarding job generation were too high: before the World Cup, Germany was expecting a creation of 100.00 jobs, but had actually 50.000. A similar problem happened to South Korea that was expecting 500.00 tourists once the World Cup was over, but had only half of them visiting the country.
The official portal for the Brazilian World Cup has disclosed several projects related to urban mobility. These projects have as a core to promote the integration between all the 12 cities that will host the World Cup matches and the guarantee the access to the venues.
In order to achieve such purpose, several renovation projects have been put into practice. Airports, ports, highways and public transportation have gone through renovation, what will still be useful for Brazilian citizens even when the event is over.
Reuse of Venues
One of the major concerns regarding the venues is if there will be any usage for them once the World Cup is over. The BRL 14 million cycle track built for the Pan American Games will be demolished and rebuilt, but this time according to the demands made by the Olympics committee. And this after only five years of its opening.
Some of the venues being built will be used by local soccer teams, which is the case of Itaquerão, being built in São Paulo city. The venue will belong to Corinthians once the World Cup is over. However, some of the venues still do not have an established use after the World Cup is over. This is the case of Estádio Vivaldo Lima, Arena da Amazônia. The official website for the World Cup in Brazil states that after the event, the venue will be exploited by the private initiative as a multiuse arena.
Another concern is the maintenance of the venues, which is a problem faced by Japan, country that hosted the 2002 World Cup along with South Korea. The lack of strategic planning for the use of the venues after the event was over and the high maintenance costs have led the Japanese government to disburse US$ 5 million every year.
After all, is it good or bad?
It depends on how positive or negative you are. I would say that an event such as a World Cup or the Olympics brings much more benefits to countries that already have the required infrastructure. To get the cities prepared to receive the tourists is the hardest part and it is where it gets so hard to administrate the money, especially in a corrupt country like Brazil.
On the other hand, this is a chance to eliminate old barriers Brazil has, such as the quality of its public transportation, airports and roads. These are initiatives that the whole population will benefit from.
The usage of public money destined to basic services such as hospitals and schools is maybe the major concern among Brazilians, who are literally taking money out of their pockets to host the World Cup. Of course, many do not have this awareness and are just happy that Brazil will be on the spotlight for a whole month. We just hope it happens for the right reasons.