Keeping Score in the 2010 World Cup: How Do Sports Mega-Events Compete with Pro-Poor Development?
This thesis uses the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, which was framed as a catalyst for economic growth and broader development, to consider the relationship between global sporting events and pro-poor priorities. The study is driven by three main questions. To what extent did the World Cup deliver on its expectations; are event-driven strategies compatible with pro-poor needs; and why, given a priori doubts about the effectiveness of mega-events as development instruments, do political elites and publics embrace them? I find the event piqued international interest and improved perceptions, potentially boosting tourism and foreign investment, but its other impacts were negligible and came at the expense of more critical needs and the marginalized communities it aimed to uplift. The priorities of FIFA and mega-events’ assumptions about economic growth suggest mega-events are incompatible with pro-poor principles. Yet regardless of significant tolls, financial and otherwise, mega-events are embraced based on factors other than the public good, influenced by dynamics of decision-making, perceptions of personal benefit, and symbolic appeal.