Photography by:
  • Gareth Pon

Promises & expectations of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup

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  • GCRO

When the World Cup was close to taking place, GCRO decided that our best contribution would be to avoid the obvious approaches dominant at the time – that the World Cup would create jobs by the thousand, re-brand and re-create South Africa’s global image on the one hand; or that it was the biggest folly imaginable, with billions spent on inevitably white elephant projects.

Rather, we thought, why not track those who we felt ought to benefit from the Cup – the micro-traders who were selling flags or making makarapas, the shebeen and B&B owners, and others who were not able to make it into the ‘charmed circle’ that FIFA drew around the stadia.

GCRO commissioned a three-phase survey. We began by surveying 200 micro-traders immediately before the World Cup took place, in order to assess expectations. Then we returned to 150 of those traders a few months after the Cup, in order to assess the extent to which expectations had been met, and then returned again, a year after FIFA 2010, to see what if any lasting impact the World Cup had had on this key economic sector.

Our focus was mainly economic, but we also tested social values and attitudes, such as xenophobic sentiments and the impact that Ghana’s quarter-final appearance may have had, and so on.

From the first survey, as the image makes clear, there were policy take-outs for government. Although the Gauteng Provincial Government, and local governments across the province, have put in place a battery of support mechanisms for the ‘second economy’, few if any go to that economy – they expect it – and the people working in it – to come to them. That this is impossible for people who have to be selling at the same corner of the same busy road, every day and every night, ought to be self-evident – and is, according to our data – but nonetheless services keep being offered but not taken up by those who most need them – and who are then blamed for the fact.

Figure 1: Have you approached any of the following organisations that support small businesses in South Africa?

Organisations that support small businesses

The results of the research were disseminated at the “Sport in the City Conference”, which was co-hosted by GCRO and the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), on 26 and 27 March 2012. More details are available at: or

Both David Everatt and Annsilla Nyar presented papers at the conference. David’s paper was presented on the first day of the conference: “Expectations meet reality: the economic impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on informal sector small traders in Gauteng”. Annsilla presented her paper the following day: “Nation-building, Africanism and the 2010 FIFA World Cup: what did they do for social cohesion in post-apartheid South Africa?”

In addition GCRO prepared a GCRO vignette of the economic legacy for micro-traders which can be accessed at


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