World Cup no sure-fire way to fortune

PREPARE to be disappointed, South Africans. One of the world's leading sports economists says you're not going to get rich hosting next year's World Cup.

PREPARE to be disappointed, South Africans. One of the world's leading sports economists says you're not going to get rich hosting next year's World Cup.

There will be no economic bonanza, according to a new book, and if experience matches the last World Cup in Germany, spending by visitors will be much less than the South African government shelled out preparing for the tournament.

"The next World Cup will not be an airplane dropping dollars on South Africa," authors Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper write in the book Soccernomics.

The caveat comes just ahead of tomorrow's World Cup draw in Cape Town, 188 days before football's showpiece tournament.

Using data analysis, history and psychology, the book punctures dozens of assumptions about what it takes to win, and who makes money in football - and in sports in general.

"The problem for South Africa is that they had to spend quite a lot to build stadiums," Szymanski said in a phone interview from London.

"Germany could afford this and had stadiums anyway. But South Africa is a nation that can ill afford to fritter away a few billion on white elephants."

After the 2002 World Cup, for instance, South Korea's K-League had difficulties filling the 10 new stadiums built for the tournament at a cost of $2billion.

The book's argument is that hosting a World Cup or Olympics is an inefficient way to revitalise a city, or enrich a nation - especially one like South Africa, where a third of the population lives on less than $2 a day. It can boost a nation's morale or image but not much else.

"If you want to regenerate a poor neighbourhood, regenerate it," Szymanski and Kuper write. - AFP

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