Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Another side to the World Cup

Posted by John Beech on July 6, 2010

Most of us will have been (eventually!) enjoying the World Cup as a feast of football, soaking up the atmosphere even if only in our sitting rooms or in the pub, and savouring the more dramatic and skilful moments.

We may even spare a thought for the pressure on those who produce this spectacle.  This morning Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of the pressure on Wayne Rooney, suggesting that this was the reason for his poor performance (1).  It’s all too easy to forget that the pressure is also on a whole load of people who are not players.

No less a figure than Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and ex-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has strongly criticised FIFA for causing hardship to street vendors through the creation of exclusion zones around stadiums (2).  Street vending is estimated to account for 7 percent of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product, and it has been estimated that there could be more than 100,000 street and informal traders who have lost their livelihoods during the World Cup.  No great benefit for them from the World Cup then; rather, they and their families will have had an extremely hard time.  Their reaction is recorded here.

This is not the first time that this kind of issue has emerged.  You may have noticed the strike.  I’m not referring to the problems of Les Bleus, but to the stewards protesting over pay (3) – they claimed they had only been paid £17, significantly less than they had been promised.  The strike was broken by bringing in police to take over their duties (4).  Whether they too were expected to work 15 hour shifts is unclear (5).

So far the World Cup, as an event, has been a great success.  But when talk turns to ethics it should not be confined to Suarez’s handball.  Given FIFA’s budget, it should be possible to ensure that the benefit of the World Cup extends to the hosts.

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