A year after: one perspective from the ground

I passed a few games at the 2010 World Cup with my friend Andrew Bonfiglio; we even shared the experience of trying to leave Soccer City after the opening match between South Africa and Mexico.  Andrew  has lived in South Africa since the World Cup kicked off a year ago and he was kind enough to provide his perspective on the last year in the country, post World Cup fever.  Thanks Andrew!

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By Andrew Bonfiglio

A few weeks ago now, June 11, 2011 marked the 1 year anniversary of the World Cup’s first match on the African continent as South Africa took on Mexico in the opening game Soccer City (now Nedbank stadium) . For me, it was very nostalgic. Just one year ago, after moving to South Africa only 6 weeks prior to this momentous occasion, I woke up at 7am planning on doing some work in the morning in time to watch the game in the afternoon. To my surprise, a journalist friend of mine called me about 7:15am and upon answering the phone, I heard, “Drew, how much do you love me?” I was thrown for a moment, but quickly responded, “It depends on what you say next.” Noah (www.noahrosenberg.com) had just scored us two tickets to the opening match. I couldn’t contain myself. We rushed around from 9am – 12:30am getting gear to wear to the match and picking up the tickets. Fifteen KM and 3 hours of traffic later we arrived at Soccer City and walked to our seats just before the opening whistle. Fifty five minutes later, South Africa’s Siphiwe Tshabalala scored the first goal of the tournament. The crowd erupted and the excitement was nothing like anything I had every felt or seen before. That set the stage for the rest of an amazing Cup and gave me my fondest memory of 2010. You couldn’t help but cheer for South Africa – both the team and the country – to have a successful tournament.

So here we are, one year later. I returned to South Africa less than three weeks ago, after a two month break back in the US, to run my company’s leadership development and social impact program (www.emzingo.com, video). The vibe was certainly different. June 11, 2011 was a bittersweet day for South Africa. For many, it was a day of mourning as Albertina Sisulu – the great anti-apartheid activist, husband of the late activist and leader Walter Sisulu, and good friend of Nelson Mandela – was buried after passing away the week before. However, Sisulu was 92 and had lived an amazing and influential life that helped shape today’s South Africa. I certainly believe the day was a celebration of her life and accomplishments more than a day to mourn and I personally believe she would have wanted the country to celebrate the anniversary of the WC and be proud of what South Africa accomplished.

And many did. SABC showed several matches as well as a World Cup special on Saturday night. Articles in the local papers and stories on the local radio stations remembered last year fondly. The majority would love to turn back time and relive the excitement of last June (which I can understand – winter is much better with the World Cup).

I don’t know if the investment SA made in stadiums, roads, additional security, etc… will give an ROI that economists would approve of, but I must say, the people I talked to and the South Africa I have seen in 2011 thinks it was worth it. My colleagues and friends are proud to be part of a nation that hosted such an exciting and successful event. They feel as if they have proven themselves. The people are more confident and believe they can compete on a global scale in just about anything. South Africa’s membership in the exclusive BRICS club and President Zuma leading the conversation about a “Cape to Cairo” trade agreement are two recent examples of how SA is continuing propel itself into the global spotlight.

For me, though, one year later, the most exciting and important outcome of the World Cup is that the people I’ve spoken to feel closer and more united as a country. South Africa has its challenges and is far from being a utopia, but I for one feel lucky to have been part of an incredible 2010 World Cup and to continue to get to know a country with so much heart and potential.

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A short video on the Emzingo program that Andrew started up in South Africa.

An Update from the Ground: Half a Year Later

My friend Adam Boros, who graciously submitted guests posts on the World Cup has done it again.  Below he provides his on-the-ground perspective on the post-World Cup South Africa, a little more than seven months following the end of the historical event.

By Adam Boros

It has been just over six months since Spain beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final in South Africa. When I am asked how the country has changed in this half-year (admittedly a very short period of time), I find it difficult to come to any sort of meaningful answer. But the nation certainly has changed.

Just across the Nelson Mandela Bridge in downtown Johannesburg, an extra size billboard is perched above the buildings, reminiscent of a welcome sign. Written over the South African flag, it says very simply, ‘Today, This is the Greatest Country in the World.’ TV commercials, radio spots and newspaper advertisements (similar to the one pictured here) like this sprouted all over South Africa in the months leading up to the tournament last year. They captured perfectly the intense patriotism and joy of the day. Now, the Joburg billboard is one of the few remaining and it speaks to both the good and the challenges of post-World Cup South Africa.

First, the challenges. Many around the world will have read that almost immediately after the final whistle blew at Soccer City, there was a nationwide public sector strike. More than a million teachers (as well as some nurses and other civil servants) marched, picketed and protested for three weeks, demanding a wage increase. The strike meant even more time out of schools for students following the scheduled (but longer than normal) five-week schools closure during the tournament. For a country where education is perhaps the biggest challenge and priority, this was problematic to say the least. In addition, the strike did untold damage to the profession of teaching in the country, as educators were depicted by the media as selfish, undisciplined and (in some cases) violent. The merits of the strike can be debated, but it cannot be denied that the promotional marketing and lavish spending related to the World Cup contributed to teachers’ belief that the ‘Greatest Country in the World’ should do better by them. With billions of Rand being spent on stadiums, new roads and other infrastructure, it did not seem overly impudent to ask for a raise.

The billboard over Johannesburg also symbolises, of course, the media and its role in the country. Unfortunately, the sign’s overtly positive message – as well as the optimistic, giddy tone of media coverage during the tournament – are now distant memories. Any hope that the beauty of that month would have a long-term effect on reporting in the country has been thoroughly dashed. The independence of South Africa’s media (which has come under some level of threat in the last six months) is one of the country’s truly wonderful elements. But the reversion to extremely biased and negative coverage of the country is disappointing. I find myself avoiding newspapers again, uninterested in reading about corruption (the latest obsession), crime and lack of service delivery. It seemed that the media was even unwilling to accept as a fantastic development the significant improvement in matric pass rates this year (given the disruptions noted above). Instead, there was an insistence that the ‘books had been cooked’ and, in essence, improved educational marks were ‘too good to be true.’ At times, one wonders if the ‘Greatest Country’ was nothing more to the media than decorative words for the sake of foreign tourists.

Fortunately, it was more than embellishment to the vast majority of South Africans. Beyond the wonderful new highways, the high-speed train that will be fully operational in the next month, the rapid bus public transport system that continues to expand throughout Johannesburg, the world-class stadiums (some of which are sadly already white elephants), the huge amounts of money generated by the tournament and the increased global respect for and interest in South Africa, the most important benefit of the tournament has been psychological.

South Africans are generally patriotic. There is something special about this country – how it symbolises forgiveness, progress, reconciliation and so much else in the world – and the people know it. The World Cup only deepened this conviction, showing the nation that it could effectively host the world with class and flavour.  But more significantly, the World Cup demonstrated to everyone who lives here what the South Africa of our dreams looks like. It is a country where crime is minimal. It is a country where black and white laugh, dance, sing and celebrate side-by-side, hand-in-hand. It is a country where most things works the way they should, when they should. And it is a country that can confront and solve its problems together, efficiently and effectively.

This is no small thing in a country with as many pressing challenges as South Africa. Poverty and unemployment levels (especially among the youth) are unsustainably high. Skills shortages continue to plague the country. The education system is deeply flawed (even with the significant increase noted above, more than 30% of grade 12 students did not pass their final exam last year). Corruption levels are increasing (although exaggerated by the media) and crime remains a huge difficulty. But now, perhaps more so than at any other time since the euphoric days of 1994, South Africans believe they can solve these problems. Of course there is still pessimism and of course there are depressing, even terrifying statistics one hears on a regular basis. But I believe that on the whole, the nation’s mindset is different. We have not only seen what can be, but have seen that we can make it happen. Ten years from now, South Africa will be a completely different country, and I believe it will be a better one. That audacious billboard hanging over Johannesburg’s skyline is just one example of how the World Cup, in both subtle and explicit ways, will play an important role in this transformation.

Back in the States: Some observations before the tournament ends

I’ve returned to the U.S. and have joined the ranks of fans, watching from afar.  It’s interesting to have both perspectives; that of a fan completely immersed in the event where every corner reveals a reminder that the World Cup is happening all around you and that of a the casual spectator who has to catch scores on-line and game replays after work hours.  Both are fun, and while I’m a bit sad not to be in South Africa anymore I do think we were there for the best time.  The euphoria in the country around Bafana Bafana’s success was intoxicating and it was an amazing ride to be at all of their group games; we knew that the fire would burn a little less bright once they were knocked out.  But the games and the fun continue, particularly for fans of the remaining countries.

Now that I’ve had a little time to process; here are a few of my early thoughts on the impact of the games.

1. CSR initiatives by major sponsors (or other companies) were, disaapointingly non-existent. Cone Inc., one of the most influential cause-marketing firms around, mentioned this blog on their blog! I was honored of course, but the recognition was due to my tweeting about the lack of CSR or cause-marketing efforts in the country; not exactly what I was hoping for around the World Cup.  I think businesses missed out on a major opportunity to increase exposure and good will for their brand.  The first World Cup, hosted in Africa, was an opportunity for brands to get in front of billions of people, but also show consumers around the globe and in new markets around the African continent, that they cared about people.  FIFA’s Centres for Hope was the only visible example and had participation by a few of the major corporate sponsors, but it appeared to be more charity than strategic.  A missed opportunity in my opinion.

2. The near-term impact has benefited many, particularly the hospitality industry, but for the street-level entrepreneur, the economic boon has not been realized. We saw tons of street vendors, mostly guys, trying to sell their wares at busy intersections and highway off-ramps, all with the hope of making a few extra bucks from the World Cup.   A July 1, ESPN Soccernet article on street vendors hawking replica jerseys, vuvuzela,s country flags, and other tchotchkes highlighted the issue well.  The author writes

Shame (the surname of an interviewed vendor) had high hopes for this World Cup. But the World Cup has no place for him…The difficulty in converting the World Cup into cash threatens to taint the tournament’s legacy for the locals. “After the World Cup, us Africans must gain some benefit from it,” Mufandaedza (another intereviewed vendor) said. “I thought that if I tried to sell something, I can benefit something. As Africans in one’s life, this is the only golden opportunity to make money for us.

The author continues:

But for the vendors, this tournament has yielded little but disillusion. “We are very disappointed. Very, very disappointed,” said vendor Billy Banda, 23, in his deep voice. “We were chased out.”

For full article, click here: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/columns/story/_/id/5307563/ce/us/leander-schaerlaeckens-rough-life-johannesburg-street-vendors?cc=5901&ver=us

3. But the long-term benefits might be very real.  I cite two benefits in particular; one economic and one social.

Firstly, South Africa hosted (and is still hosting) a world-class event; the stadiums were immaculate, the new infrastructure was functioning properly, the airports were impressive.  Security was a little more lax then expected, but everything went off without a hitch.  Hospitality was typically South African, meaning warm, welcoming, and without pretense.  Of course, there were areas for improvement such as the system of shepherding people out of the stadiums to the park-and-ride areas or the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  But putting on a world-class event, in a country that still suffers from a (generally) unfair reputation for being dangerous, will hopefully prove the doubters wrong and change a few opinions.  As South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was quoted in a Buanews article:

“Today, we have earned the reputation of a country that can actually deliver, and that is good for future growth,”

He added that the event had helped to bring an end to the Afro-pessimism that had dominated foreign media for years.

And after talking to many folks who had made this their first trip to South Africa, it was resoundingly clear that it wouldn’t be their last; if anything, that sentiment will be one of the longer-term economic benefits of the World Cup.

To see the full article, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/2010/benefits-020710.htm

Secondly, the social impact was something I definitely didn’t anticipate.  South Africa is still a young democracy, where only 16 years have passed since the end of Apartheid.  And in a country where racial oppression is such a defining part of it’s recent history but post-racialism is what’s been touted since the end of Apartheid, it was sometimes difficult to parse between what was reality and what was idealism over the last decade or so.  But seeing people of every color get behind Bafana Bafana, the South African soccer team, and the national flag, was truly remarkable.  To see every car on the road flying some sort of South African paraphernalia was inspiring.  In a country where sport defined racial lines as much as color (rugby and cricket were for white South Africans; soccer for black South Africans) it was amazing to see people of every color supporting their soccer team.  One poignant moment was at the opening game, South Africa vs. Mexico.  An older white man and a guy who appeared to be in his late 20’s and who appeared to be the older man’s son were sitting in front of us.  The younger guy was enthusiastically explaining some of the rules of the game to his father and describing some of the players.  The older man had a wide-eyed look and a huge smile on his face.  This scene would not have taken place at a soccer game in South Africa even a few years ago.  And this is just one anecdotal example, but it seems that the World Cup truly has helped bring the country a little closer; brought the races, which still have their differences, a common reference point of understanding.  And hopefully, all of the young children, of all races, who came to the games and had a wonderful time, will carry that spirit of post-racialism and optimism into the future.

South African President, Jacob Zuma, summed this up well in a recent interview with FIFA:

It is for the first time in South Africa that we have seen this Rainbow Nation really coming together in a manner we have not witnessed before. For the first time, I have noticed that every South African is now flying our national flag. Everybody is just crazy about this tournament, both black and white. This tournament proved that sport is a tool for nation building.

For the full interview between FIFA and President Zuma, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/2010/zuma-020710.htm

The tournament is still on; four countries remain.  Though, South Africa is not playing for the trophy, they are still the ones with the most to lose or gain from this tournament.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the final on July 11, once the question of “what now?” starts getting asked.  Look out for some guest posts from friends in South Africa who will be able to provide some perspective on the question of “what now?”

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Guest Post: Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

By Andrew Bonifiglia

June 13, 2010 – Johannesburg, South Africa

Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

There are plenty of good causes that will benefit from the hype, sponsorship, and promotion that the World Cup brings to South Africa. One in particular caught my interest; United Against Malaria (http://unitedagainstmalaria.org/).

With a mission to “Kick Malaria Out of Africa” the organization is using the World Cup as a platform to promote malaria prevention and treatment. Like HIV/AIDS, malaria is not only a social and health issue, but an economic one. Employee sick days, lost productivity from those infected with the disease, and employee vacation or unpaid leave due to family members having the illness all impact a company’s bottom line. 850,000 people die from malaria each year[i]. When you take into consideration the points I just made, that can add up to millions upon millions of Rands. And please don’t think I’m cold hearted. The reason the economics are so important is because organizations like United Against Malaria, coupled with the reach and financial resources of governments and large corporations operating in Africa, can win the fight against malaria. Behavioral change is the ultimate goal. The population at-large needs to understand the risks associated with malaria, how it can be prevented, and most importantly, MODIFY behavior to mitigate the chance of becoming part of the statistics. Hopefully, the amount of coverage the World Cup draws to UAM and malaria in general will be the impetus to an Africa where malaria has been “kicked out.”

And just a final comment; the push to reduce the number of malaria cases in Africa is not a new thing. However, the paradox is that it is a completely preventable disease and one that can be treated (much easier than HIV/AIDS). With that in mind, I think it is a cause worth fighting for and one where the goal can be realized if all of the stakeholders come together.

[And a quick thank you to Celia Deitz who is working for United Against Malaria and was kind enough to give me a few minutes of her time to learn about the great work she and the organization are doing] [i]

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34465&Cr=malaria&Cr1=

Some observations before the games

So it’s the day before the games begin and we’ve been in South Africa for a few days now. Here are a few observations so far:

  1. Not everyone is excited. Case in point: as we were checking into a hostel in Hermanus, a beach town just 90k from Cape Town (and whale watching mecca), the lodge owner Jan was filling out his ledger and said, “is it 2010 already?” Obviously not a football fan. But if you were in Hermanus it would be easy to miss that the world’s biggest sporting event was going to be taking place just a few hours down the road.
  2. But most people are. Seeing fans from all over the world and hearing that vuvezela are definite signs that something special is going to happen.
  3. They call it soccer in South Africa. Weird.
  4. Immediate impact: winter tourism spending. While the long-term impact of the games will need some time before an assessment can be made, one immediate impact, which I hadn’t really thought about, will be the boost to tourism during the country’s off season. Perhaps the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months are when tourists typically travel to South Africa, but right now, it’s winter here and the weather isn’t all that friendly. So with the games, the hostels, B&B’s, and restaurants that are typically empty or slow, are doing quite good business.
  5. Adidas is doing some interesting branding. Adidas, major World Cup Sponsors, have branded many of the kombis (mini bus taxis) in town. Wouldn’t be remarkable in most cases, but these taxis generally transport folks from the city centers to the surrounding townships. Perhaps this is one subtle way Adidas is trying to make some branding in-roads in the much heavier populated (and growing in purchasing power) township communities?
  6. Even in Capetown, things are not that crazy. I asked a taxi driver if things were getting busy for him or if traffic was getting horrendous and he just shrugged and said “no, but maybe it’s the calm before the storm.” I’m assuming it’s the calm, but he’ll surely want the storm (and lots of fares) that will come with it.
  7. This country is still bizarre and I still love it. It’s been seven years since I’ve last been here. Then, I was working and spending a lot of time in the townships surrounding Capetown: Khayalitsha, Langa, etc. These areas were dominated by dirt roads and overcrowded tin-roof shack homes. And seven years later (16 years after the official end of Apartheid), and an estimated $52 billion spent on World Cup preparations, they still are. And just 20 K down the road is Capetown, a jewel of a city with an Aston Martin dealership on the water front and other signs of excess. All in a country where the overwhelming majority are NOT white and still living in poverty. This seems like this country shouldn’t work; these conditions of inequality, perpetrated by Apartheid, shouldn’t still be acceptable; there should be a revolution! But this patience, resilience, and optimism that “things will improve” are perhaps some of the reasons why this country DOES seem to work and why I love this place. It shouldn’t work and in many cases it doesn’t (e.g. crime), but the fact that it hasn’t been reduced to bloodshed over the years and that it’s now playing host to the world are testaments to the spirit of the country and the hopeful path that people are plowing ahead.

In Jozie (Johannesburg) starting tomorrow. More to come soon!

Guest Post: A view from the ground with less than 2 weeks to go!

My dear friend Adam Boros has written some guest posts for this blog over the last year.  He has lived in Johannesburg for the last five years and has had a first row seat to the build up (both physical and emotional) to the World Cup during that time period.  Below, he provides his perspective, with the games now fewer than two weeks away!

By Adam Boros

May 30, 2010

Johannesburg, South Africa – 14 days. For those of us in South Africa who have watched a countdown that started somewhere over 1,000, the fact that the World Cup kicks off two weeks from today is surreal. The long wait is nearing its conclusion and to say that we are excited is a comical understatement. The country is infected with football fever and it is difficult to spend an hour without hearing or seeing or feeling some reminder of the biggest sporting event in the world. It is difficult for me to put into words the emotions that I am feeling in the final stretch because I have rarely been this excited for any kind of event in my life. So I will settle for a few musings…

  • Fridays – like today – are the best day of the week. For the past few months, South Africa has celebrated Football Fridays every week, when people are encouraged to fly the South African flag wherever and however they can and wear a Bafana Bafana jersey. It has been amazing to see how each week, more and more South Africans don the yellow or green Bafana jersey or affix a flag to their car (or strap SA flag covers on their sideview mirrors in an especially stylish display). Perhaps most amazingly, the people that you least expect to be demonstrating their love of soccer and the national team seem to be the most ardent supporters of the day. Soccer in South Africa is undoubtedly a ‘black’ sport, with few whites showing much interest in local teams or games. But on Friday, elderly white women and big, rugby-loving Afrikaners are proudly Bafana Bafana. Not to mention politicians – it is an entertaining (and refreshing) site to see the national president wearing a soccer jersey to important meetings and events.
  • For those of you who have seen Invictus (which I did not really care for), you will understand that sport has often played an important role in race relations here. In that tradition, the World Cup is already having some unexpected benefits for racial reconciliation in the country. Due to the need to keep football pitches pristine, the best rugby team in the country (the Blue Bulls) was forced to shift its home semifinal of an important tournament from Pretoria to Soweto last week Saturday. Moving a sporting event from one stadium to another less than an hour away would hardly be front page news in most places around the world. But this represented the first premier league professional rugby match ever to be played in a black township. The political and social importance of this event is difficult to overstate, and difficult to understand for anyone who has not spent significant time in the country. To see busloads of Afrikaners flooding into Soweto – a place that I can safely say only a tiny minority had ever ventured into – was a beautiful site. As the captain of the Blue Bulls said after the game, it was a perfect display of “how far we have come since 1994.” And without the World Cup, it would not have happened.
  • Several months ago, I wrote how I was surprised at how little World Cup advertising was visible around Johannesburg. This is definitely no longer a problem. The other day, as I was driving from one meeting to another across the endless sprawl that is Joburg, I decided to count any World Cup-related advertising that I came across. I drove for probably about 60 kms in total, and never went more than 1 kilometer without seeing a poster, mural or advertisement that mentioned the World Cup in some way. The tournament, without any doubt, is unavoidable!
  • The argument that South Africa will reap huge economic benefits from the World Cup is certainly debatable (although I read an article this week that a recent study showed the country’s GDP will increase by an impressive 0.5% from the tournament alone). But I have been especially surprised (and even shocked) at how tightly FIFA controls every last component of the tournament, and stifles local economic enrichment in the process. Without any doubt, the most tragic example of this is the barring of local people selling local food at the stadiums during games (tragic for both the locals and the tourists!). But there is no question that the infrastructural improvements that will last long after July 11 are a huge boon to the country. Although I do not think there is a single Joburger who is not incredibly sick of huge traffic jams, reduced speed limits and reroutes and detours, when all is said and done the new road network, public transport systems and other improvements will make the country a better place to work and live.
  • They may have less utility, but the most impressive infrastructure projects are certainly the stadiums. All of the new World Cup stadiums are beautiful and state-of-the-art. Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the first ever match to be played at Soccer City. It was a tournament final between two less popular local teams that would normally draw a crowd of a few thousand. On Saturday there were 80,000. If ever there was a stadium to draw a crowd more easily than the participating teams, this is it. It is truly world-class, and the helicopter shots of the ‘Calabash’ with Johannesburg in the background were absolutely beautiful. I went again last night for the first Bafana match to be played there and the atmosphere was unreal. Pure joy, excitement and noise for 90 minutes.

And on June 11th, just 14 days from now, the entire country will be blowing their vuvuzelas, sporting their national jerseys, singing to their hearts content and fighting back tears of joy as Mexico and Bafana kick-off at Soccer City. Of all the official slogans used by FIFA over the past few years, there is only one that truly captures what this tournament means. For too long, Africa is only in the news due to civil war, starvation and poverty. I believe that the 2010 World Cup will be the first time that the entire world will, and must, ‘celebrate Africa’s humanity.’

Woza June 11!!!

FIFA’s Opposing Interests: money for them or for South Africa?

A recent article in the UK based paper, The Independent, highlighted a topic that I’ve written about on this blog: FIFA, their vigilant stance against ambush marketing, and the resultant loss of economic opportunity for small-scale entrepreneurs to benefit from the upcoming World Cup.  Now I understand FIFA’s reasons for defending the well-paid for rights of their major corporate sponsors.  And they didn’t hide the fact that they wouldn’t tolerate ambush marketing.  But their vigor in this area may now be biting themselves in the behind.  I don’t think anyone would argue against their right to prevent Nike or Puma’s presence in the stadiums or fan parks due to Adidas’ role as an official sponsor.  But when you compare that against preventing street vendors from selling key chains or lollipops (lollipops!) with the word ‘2010’ or the image of the South African flag, it raises some eyebrows.   According to the article it states that FIFA “has opened 451 cases of ambush marketing, aiming to protect its official partners who have spent fortunes to win exclusive rights to the brand.”

But Pierre de Vos, a constitutional lawyer, fears that if these actions persists, average South Africans will see only limited benefits from the World Cup.  He continues to state:

Many of the rules are here to protect financial interests of FIFA. It has nothing to do with the successful hosting of the World Cup…If the economic benefits are not as high as people had hoped, people will become more disillusioned with FIFA

And disillusionment with FIFA should be the least of the organizing committee’s worries; FIFA officials get to return to Switzerland and enjoy the benefit of only hosting this event every four years.  But the organizing committee members will be the ones expected to answer questions if pre-games promises are not fulfilled.

This article in the Independent is discouraging but not surprising.  I know it’s much easier to report on the negative than to report on the good that’s happening (hoping that there actually is a lot more positive to be reported on!).  So I’m hoping that articles highlighting the negative impacts don’t outweigh those showcasing the positive things happening in the country around the games.

But this article is also discouraging in light of another recent article (May 3) in the Financial Times that reported that FIFA would be generating a net gain of $1 billion in income, although they said it was wrong to talk about the surplus as a profit.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA executive, described the surplus as “a reserve to insulate the organisation from any unforeseen financial problems.”  He continued, saying:

We are not rich, we are making quite good money and thanks to the World Cup, because . . . that’s the only income we have…We should not talk about profit.

When you balance this report of them not being “rich” on one hand and then see them raising lawsuits against those small-scale entrepreneurs who are simply trying to make money for their families, one can’t help but see a major disconnect between FIFA and those of the country hosting the event.  FIFA is working hard to protect the brand of their generous sponsors, but they are at serious risk of damaging their own.

Up to this point, FIFA has talked a good game about leveraging the games in order to uplift the country, it’s people, and the region.  Hopefully they don’t squash any built-up good will by continuing to play the Goliath, to the entrepreneurs’, David.

To read the full May 3, Financial Times article click here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e62f2be-56c2-11df-aa89-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss

To read the full May 11, The Independent article click here: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/internationals/fifa-marketing-rules-spark-frustration-in-safrica-1971006.html

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