IS Academy lecture: Development and Dreams. The Urban Legacy of the 2010 Football World Cup

Seminar date: 
06 October 2010

Place: Perszaal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague. Please bring identification

Speaker(s): Dr Udesh Pillay, Executive Director Centre for Service Delivery (CSD), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Pretoria, South Africa

Discussant: Michiel van der Pompe, cluster coordinator Southern Africa

Major international sporting events have an extraordinary capacity to generate powerfully emotional shared experiences. Sport has historically been employed as a means to enhance nation building, and constitutes striking moments of intense identity formation, projection and patriotism, often transcending entrenched social cleavages and providing politicians and other elites with opportunities to build and project common political identities. Proponents of major international sporting events argue further that they are positively associated with processes of political liberalisation, democratisation and human rights amelioration - in short, with enhancing the prospects for, and quality of, democratic life.

However, it is the economic and social development benefits that draw most attention, and are often cited as axiomatic in relation to the hosting of international sporting events. The economic legacy of a mega sporting event is generally anticipated in terms of short- and medium-term job creation, international investment and dramatic increases in tourism, ideally sustained over time due to the international spotlight that the event brings to a destination. They are thus seen as having direct revenue potential and able to unlock vast public and private investments for physical and social infrastructure. The occasion of major sporting events invariably prompts governments to invest heavily in urban renewal and causes a surge in local construction activity. In social development terms, urban rejuvenation and infrastructure upgrades, including property revitalisation and the targeting of new areas for urban development, are seen as key goals, as are opportunities for sport development in terms of the legacy of world-class facilities for training and competition that are left behind.

In a context where the exigencies of globalisation bear heavily on nation states, mega sporting events have become highly sought-after commodities as developed countries, and increasingly some leading developing countries, move towards event-driven economies as tools for economic development, and as symbolic representations of prestige and power. But do they represent - in the present moment- an appropriate response to the global economic crisis, or are the anticipated economic development, job creation and poverty mitigating benefits overstated? This paper will interrogate this hypothesis against the backdrop of the FIFA 2010 World Cup recently held in South Africa. It will also comment on the contribution and value of research to the 2010 World Cup.

Registration: 1 October at the latest at: 
Registration is obligatory. If you have registered but are unable to attend please inform us as soon as possible.