Sol Campbell and Simon Kuper battle it out in the match of the centuryby Simon Kuper / May 22, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
© Geoffrey Swaine/Rex/Image Broker/Rex
To describe the World Cup as a “poisoned chalice” for the host nations is to ignore the fact that its value goes beyond the economic—it brings people and nations together. It’s also a fantastic platform from which to spread the message that racism and homophobia in sport are wrong.
I’m not denying that it costs a huge amount of money to host the World Cup but Brazil currently has the seventh largest economy in the world, is rich in natural resources and has a population of over 198m people. It is a nation that loves football and has a strong tradition of excellence in the game; this event has forced them to upgrade their stadiums and ensure they maintain a world-class standard. It has also made it essential for the Brazilian government to improve the nation’s infrastructure. Brazil is supposed to be this new country coming out and showing the world how powerful they are. I believe that hosting the World Cup will, in the long term, be a huge benefit to Brazil’s economy and global status.
If Fifa was scared of putting a strain on the economies of developing countries then the World Cup would only ever be held in mainland Europe, America, and possibly in certain parts of the Middle East and Asia. This is the World Cup—everyone competes and everyone has the opportunity to host it. It is important that countries such as Brazil have the opportunity to show what they can do on the world stage. Brazil’s spending could go over budget—the total cost is now forecast to be around £7bn—but so did the spending for the 2012 Olympics in London. The popular mood might be temporarily negative in Brazil as a result of this overspend, as it was in the run-up to London 2012, but once the first ball kicks off and the Brazilian team start doing well, the mood will change. What the World Cup gives back is immense—you can’t quantify the feel-good factor it creates for the host nation.