By most popular accounts, the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals (the “World Cup”) was a success for South Africa in general, and Cape Town in particular. The games went off without a hitch (except for a few dubious officiating calls), and fans and players were treated to a picturesque setting for the pinnacle of "the beautiful game." In addition, public infrastructure improvements completed for the World Cup appeared to work smoothly throughout the Cape Town metro area, efficiently moving hundreds of thousands of sports tourists that descended on the city for the month long event.
However, a detailed analysis reflects a significantly more nuanced account of the winners and losers during the World Cup. The record of who did and did not benefit from the mega-sporting event highlights the continuing inequality within Cape Town in particular, and South Africa in general, 16 years after the end of the apartheid era.
Stadium construction companies, owners of downtown hotels, restaurants and bars, and sports merchandise stores appear to be the prime direct beneficiaries of the World Cup. Informal traders, on the other hand, were less likely to benefit from the World Cup. The lack of a strong coordinated retail marketing plan for the City of Cape Town resulted in a huge disparity between retailers who benefitted from the World Cup, and those who were left out of the estimated billions of rand spent during the event. This report chronicles these disparities.
This is not to say that the benefits of the World Cup are confined to the immediate economic impacts of the month long tournament. This report also examines the legacy effects of the World Cup on Cape Town, and the positive long-term benefits from hosting the games that might accrue in a more equitable fashion. A perceived increase in national unity was an important finding of this project. Moreover, the perception of Cape Town that most tourists left with was a positive one, which most key stakeholders expect will have a positive future effect on foreign investment in the market. But the core focus of this project examined the direct economic effects on three levels of retailers (formal stores, kiosk vendors, and street hawkers) in St. George’s Mall and Green Market Square in City Centre Cape Town during the tournament. The study area is centrally located between the Cape Town railway station, Green Point Stadium, and Long Street, all of which were key destinations for World Cup tourists. The findings of our survey, conducted between June 9, 2010 and June 30, 2010, while the World Cup was in full swing, reflect a significant gap in the financial benefits captured by these different classes of retailers.
Our research team was left with a mostly positive view of Cape Town and its key stakeholders in their handling of the event, and the foundation they have laid for the future of Cape Town. We wish them the best of luck as they continue to leverage the positive atmosphere that the World Cup brought to their metropolitan area. However, there were mistakes made and opportunities missed, some of which are easier than others to correct. We hope this report can serve as a reference for cities in the future as they prepare for hosting mega-sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games. A few key strategic changes can have a large positive effect on the equitable distribution of benefits from these events.