The planet's top international soccer tournament, the FIFA World Cup, will take place in South Africa this summer and will easily constitute the biggest and most expensive sporting event ever organized on the African continent. FIFA, the sanctioning international governing structure, sold television rights to the event for over $3 billion. But will hosting the World Cup benefit the average South African? This collection of essays by South African academics and policy experts provides some tentative answers. In particular, it assesses the event's impact on the nine big cities where matches will be held. For the most part, the contributors are skeptical about the economic benefits; previous World Cup host countries saw only minimal net increases in tourism, and the overall economic gains are unlikely to compensate for the enormous cost of building new sports stadiums and improving urban infrastructure (notably, public transportation). Nonetheless, the contributors praise the selected cities for coming up with pragmatic strategies to maximize the long-term benefits of the resources they have received for hosting the month-long event. The main gain from holding a successful World Cup, they conjecture, will be South Africa's improved global image.
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