Hosting the Cup would’ve been like a bad divorce
Hosting the World Cup is like a bad divorce and FIFA’s lawyers are better than yours. After the fun you’re left with the costs and a sour relationship.
Never mind the demands in the lead up, even during the event you realise that something is wrong. Construction activities have to stop for a month. The construction site has to be beautified. There is no compensation for the companies and the workers.
Worse still, you have to drink Budweiser. No more VB. Budweiser paid all those millions in sponsorship and FIFA requires that no Australian beers are drunk in areas associated with the event. There too, you are required to eat McDonald’s burgers. McDonald’s is also a sponsor and it is an offence to sell local in the same areas.
If you thought that you could make some money selling clothes with football logos, think again, as you could be subject to arrest. That is, unless you paid FIFA for a license. It extends to your dress habits as well, akin to your partner junking your favourite Melbourne Storm jersey. If you wear a football shirt not approved by FIFA you also will not be allowed into the stadium due to poor clothing sense.
These lawyers ensure that problems are your problems and the costs are your costs. When only some of the foreign guests fail to arrive, it is you who are hosting the expensive dinner party and inviting the neighbours to fill the table. And when a FIFA licensed company gets the hotel bookings wrong, again the costs are yours.
FIFA requires a country and city to deliver, but do not expect that FIFA will deliver similar requirements in return. One only has to look at this year’s event in South Africa for evidence of that: there were plenty of great travel deals to be had during the South African World Cup, due to the overestimated numbers of tourists and the spaces airlines and hotels set aside.
In the end it is FIFA that walks away with the billions in advertising revenue and sponsorships, and it is the long-term costs that really hurt. Paying the debt incurred for constructing expensive stadiums and for their ongoing maintenance stadiums hurts. Instead of building stadiums, the money could have gone into extending public transport systems, reducing taxes or building hospitals.
The private sector, ever alert to profits and the potential for losses, leaves it you to pay for the government guarantees and removing advertising and road signage that may catch the eye of a tourist or a roving TV camera. Adidas did not pay millions for billions to see Billabong advertisements.
The stadiums are like children living with your partner. You have to pay for the house. The maintenance costs of the children increase over time. At least you can implode a stadium, which happens.
There is a lesson to be learned. Go local. Your own festivals brand the city. Once you get to know them, global superstars are not that attractive. This is not to be disrespectful to Sepp Blatter. The maintenance costs of children are a lot less when the children live in your house and your partner likes you for who you are.
Australia has had a lucky break.
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