The economics of the World Cup


It is a common misconception that a country’s economic situation is improved by hosting the FIFA World Cup. However, conclusive evidence has been presented that the US actually lost $9.6 billion from hosting the World Cup in 1994, a $13 billion difference between the $4 billion profit that was predicted before the tournament. Likewise Germany broke even despite a flawless 2006 tournament and South Africa was in the red after figures from 2010 emerged. The general assumption is that hosting a World Cup has to be good for a country: it provides an increase in tourism, creates thousands of jobs and pumps billions of dollars into the country via ticket sales and sponsorship.


But the reality is that this is simply not true. The money spent on hosting the tournament, both the direct cost of setting up the infrastructure (stadiums and security for example) and the opportunity costs (money spend on hosting the tournament that could be used to boost the economy elsewhere) cancel out the revenue. In short, host nations who do an efficient job will be lucky to break even or make a small profit while inefficient or developing nations, such as South Africa, are likely to lose out.


What makes these figures even more astonishing is the fact that FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, makes a lot of money for putting on the World Cup. Indeed, statistics at hand from South Africa 2010 show that FIFA earmarked the insufficient sum of $482 million for assisting with hosting and left the tournament with a $1.9 billion profit, primarily made via sponsorship. So while Brazil is counting the costs of hosting a tournament that was supposed to help their economy, FIFA will in all likelihood have left with their pockets full. That FIFA should be allowed to profit is another issue entirely but it all leads to the question: why do countries even want to host the World Cup?


To be frank and rather bleak, the answer to this question relates to the motives of each nation’s bidding committee. Accepting a reliable conclusion that hosting the World Cup does not improve the economy of the host nation, the people in that nation who can benefit financially are those in power with a vested interest in football. In other words, the members of each nation’s World Cup bidding committee, for instance former and current national team players, owners or partial owners of soccer franchises, commissioners of soccer leagues, etc. If a country’s bid is successful and the profile of the sport is raised in the country, then those are the people who will benefit the most.


Of course, there would be no problem if these men benefited from hosting the World Cup if the average tax payer also saw some benefit. But the figures show that this is simply not the case, despite blatantly exaggerated claims from every World Cup bidding committee from Australia to Russia to Qatar that hosting the World Cup will improve the economy.


Whether the World Cup improved their economy was unimportant. Whether the street vendors who usually sold delicious local food for the equivalent of $2 and local beer for $1 were told to make way for FIFA-sponsored vendors who sold hot dogs and tournamentsponsored beer, Budweiser, did not matter. What mattered was for at least a month the people were happy that their country was the centre of the football world and as a result, essentially the centre of the world.

Adapted from SoccerLens.com


Exercise 1


Find the words or expressions in the text which mean the following:


1) in the same way: __________
2) to be published, to appear: __________
3) very much surprising: __________
4) to organize something: __________
5) available: __________
6) to devote money for something: __________
7) very probably: __________
8) a group of people who apply for something: __________
9) a situation in which you care about something greatly: ___________
10)a business model whereby you may use somebody’s logo but have to invest some of your own money first: __________
11)to improve the reputation of something: __________
12)to overstate something greatly: __________
13)a seller: __________


Exercise 2


Match the expressions from the two columns into logical collocations:

1) to break                   out
2) to be in the             jobs
3) to lose                     costs
4) to pump                  the economy
5) direct                       nations
6) opportunity            red
7) to boost                   something out
8) to cancel                 costs
9) developing             billions of dollars into the economy
10) to create                even



Exercise 3


Provide English equivalents of these expressions:


1) wyjść na zero
2) mieć dług(i)
3) utracone korzyści
4) ożywić gospodarkę
5) wykluczać się
6) kraje rozwijające się
7) sprzedawca (lub dostawca)
8) działalność gospodarcza „na licencji”
9) poprawić wizerunek czegość
10) tworzyć miejsca pracy
11) dostępne
12) z dużą dozą prawdopodobieństwa


Grammar corner…


In the text you found a sentence the sport’s governing body. It added extra information to what was being talked about and you may have known it as a reduced relative clause. Yet today, we will talk about something different.

Why the sport’s … ? Does the author mention which one? Can you guess which one? Of course you can, it’s soccer (or football, as it is known in Europe). The author assumed it, and that’s why they used THE – one of the much hated articles in English. You have three options to choose from: A/AN, THE, and nothing. A essentially means ONE or ONE OF MANY, or ONE YOU HAVEN’T HEARD ABOUT YET.


Obviously, you knew which World Cup was being referred to by THE WORLD CUP. Everybody has known it, so there’s no point specifying.

You don’t use articles for general or abstract ideas.



Exercise 4


Complete the sentences with a correct article:


1) The company hasn’t been doing so well, so I guess several people will be given ______ sack quite soon.
2) He has ______ stake in the company, so he’s entitled to a dividend.
3) ______ blue chip companies love sponsoring big sporting events.
4) Drugs are illegal and many people want it, so ______ business is very profitable.
5) He invested at ______ right moment and basically quadrupled his net worth.
6) Our company is in ______ process of being taken over by a rival.
7) Have you ever considered ______ career in consulting?
8) ______ FX or forex trading means dealing with foreign currencies.
9) As ______ shareholder, you can decide about the fate of the company.
10)______ economy is so bad right now that only a fool would decide to have a baby.



a misconception – błędne założenie
likewise – podobnie (jak)
astonishing – zadziwiający
to put something on – zorganizować
at hand – pod ręką
to earmark funds for something – przeznaczyć środki na coś
a bidding committee komitet – ubiegający się o coś
to have a vested interest in something – mieć w czymś inters
to break even – wyjść na zero
to be in the red (black) – być na minusie (na plusie)
to create jobs – tworzyć miejsca pracy
opportunity costs – utracone korzyści
to be given the sack – zostać zwolnionym
to hold a stake in a company – mieć udział w spółce
to be entitled to something – mieć do czegoś prawo
a blue chip company – duża spółka notowana na giełdzie
to quadruple – zwiększyć czterokrotnie
somebody’s net worth – wartość netto danej osoby
FX (or Forex) trading – handel walutami (w księgowości FX to również różnice kursowe, tj. wynikające z kursów walut)
to lose out – stracić (na czymś)
a vendor – sprzedawca (lub dostawca usługi)
a franchise – franczyza (działalność „na licencji”)
to boost the economy – ożywić gospodarkę


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Ex. 1
1) likewise
2) emerge
3) astonishing
4) to put something on
5) at hand
6) to earmark funds / money for something
7) in all likelihood
8) a bidding committee
9) a vested interest in something
10)a franchise
11)to raise the profile of something
12)to blatantly exaggerate something
13)a vendor

Ex. 2
1) to break even
2) to be in the red
3) to lose out
4) to pump billions of dollars into the economy
5) direct costs
6) opportunity costs
7) to boost the economy
8) to cancel something out
9) developing countries
10)to create jobs


Ex. 3
1) to break even
2) to be in the red
3) opportunity costs
4) to boost the economy
5) to cancel something out
6) developing countries
7) vendor
8) a franchise
9) to raise the profile of something
10)to create jobs
11)at hand
12)in all likelihood

Ex. 4
1) the
2) a
3) –
4) the
5) the
6) the
7) a
8) –
9) a