Sport-for-Development and the 2010 Football World Cup

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<ul><li><p>Sport-for-Development and the 2010 Football WorldCup</p><p>Roger Levermore*University of Liverpool</p><p>Abstract</p><p>Sport as both a grassroots and elite movement has long been used in various capacities to assistin the development process especially in lower income countries. For example, sport is believedto display traits that assist in the education process, highlight health awareness issues, unify diversecommunities and promote gender equality. Young people are the principal beneficiaries as sport isviewed as a particularly alluring vehicle to this generation. However, the relationship betweensport and development has intensified in recent years, particularly since 2005 a year that theUnited Nations declared to be its Year of Development and Peace through Sport and PhysicalEducation. Sports mega events, especially but not solely, those held in lower income countries(such as the 2010 football World Cup hosted by South Africa) are notable for the rhetoric of thepromise of development attached to them. In this article, I address the growing academic debateand use a reflection of the 2010 football World Cup as the context around which to reflect thebinary discussions evident. I take a critical stance that challenges the range of (often evangelical)support for sport-for-development. The article not only charts the perceived developmental bene-fits of the 2010 World Cup but also draws on my schooling in critical development studies tohighlight limitations associated with it. In so doing, the critique of the developmental benefits ofthe World Cup echoes more general concerns within the sport-for-development relationship.</p><p>1. Sport-for-Development</p><p>Sport as both a grassroots and elite movement has long been used in various capaci-ties to assist in the development process. This was especially so in lower income coun-tries as much as a means of attempting control of subaltern populations as in trying toimprove standards of living (Guttmann 1994; MacKenzie 1984; Maguire 1999; Wagg1995). However, the relationship between sport and development has intensified inrecent years, particularly since 2005 a year that the United Nations declared to be itsYear of Development and Peace through Sport and Physical Education and acceleratedfurther by a cluster of international sporting events from 2008 that present developmentas a core aspiration. Its role continues to be of a dualistic nature; being seen in positiveand more harmful lights.</p><p>Today, sport-for-development is most associated with discrete educational, health, andconflict alleviation projects etceteras that are largely set in sub-Saharan Africa (Levermoreand Beacom 2008) run by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) or sports volunteers with assistance (funding and equipment)from sports federations, clubs, religious organisations, governments, philanthropists or cor-porations. However, sports use to address poverty takes place around the world, in highand low-income countries alike. It also takes many other forms. For example, sport isused via publicising policy awareness campaigns (such as HIV or malaria), as part of facili-</p><p>Geography Compass 5/12 (2011): 886897, 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2011.00460.x</p><p> 2011 The AuthorGeography Compass 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd</p></li><li><p>tating macro-economic infrastructure projects and in corporate philanthropy corporatesocial responsibility (CSR) programmes (Levermore 2010).1 The inclusion of the latter isan arguable one because of the tensions inherent in the way business has used CSR in afar from altruistic manner. To some, whatever benefits CSR might temporarily bringdevelopment are far outweighed by exploitation of workforces, pollution to the environ-ment, perversion of decision-making systems, complicity in corruption, and fickleness intransferring operations across borders (to mention a few). Yet, addressing the develop-ment of communities is increasingly recognised as one of the elements that can constitutecontemporary CSR (Blowfield 2005). Indeed, the World Business Council for Sustain-able Development (n.d., 3) defines CSR as a continuing commitment by business tobehave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality oflife of the workplace and their families as well as the local community and society atlarge. Many businesses for a variety of reasons also proclaim addressing poverty andimproving standards of living around the world as being important to their overallobjectives and CSR focus. The sports industry is increasingly linking CSR to sport anddevelopment (Breitbarth and Harris 2008; Smith and Westerbeek 2007). For instance,Misener and Mason (2009, 770) note how athletic events hosted in Edmonton, Manches-ter and Melbourne provided examples of symbolic attempts to foster community aroundthe sporting events strategies. It is for these reasons that CSR through sport-for-develop-ment is included here as a category to be explored further.</p><p>Of increasing importance to the sport-for-development relationship (especially to themedia) are international sport events. These contain all the categorisations of sport-for-development noted above. The 2008 Summer Olympics Games, 2010 CommonwealthGames and 2012 European Football Championships are examples of events where devel-opment has been highlighted as an intended side effect. Yet, the 2010 football WorldCup hosted in South Africa has attracted especially widespread attention. The symbolismof the event taking place for the first time in a lower income country should not beunderstated. Indeed, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) andthen South African president, Thabo Mbeki, hailed the tournament the developmentWorld Cup for the African continent, stating:</p><p>[T]he successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup in Africa will provide a powerful, irresistiblemomentum to [the] African renaissance We want, on behalf of our continent, to stage anevent that will send ripples of confidence from the Cape to Cairo an event that will createsocial and economic opportunities throughout Africa. We want to ensure that one day, histori-ans will reflect upon the 2010 World Cup as a moment when Africa stood tall and resolutelyturned the tide on centuries of poverty and conflict. We want to show that Africas time hascome.(South African Government, n.d.)</p><p>Even if this statement deliberately exaggerated the potential impact of the World Cupin order to appeal to those voting on who should host the tournament, suchannouncements have been met with tangible commitments linking development to the2010 event. International institutions such as the European Commission, UnitedNations, football clubs, NGOs, players unions, sport organisations, academic institutionsand other governmental bodies have formal development agreements linked to theWorld Cup. Examples include:</p><p> The European Commission and FIFA signed a Memorandum of Understanding in2006 that promoted the use of football for development (EurActiv 2010).</p><p>Sport-for-development and the 2010 football World Cup 887</p><p> 2011 The Author Geography Compass 5/12 (2011): 886897, 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2011.00460.xGeography Compass 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd</p></li><li><p> The UN General Assembly agreed a Resolution in December 2009 that supports effortsto ensure that the World Cup has a lasting development legacy (UN General Assembly2009).</p><p> In April 2010, the Vienna Action Plan, supported by the list of actors noted above,agreed to make use of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa and subsequent bigsporting events as mediums for promoting development (Football for Development2010).</p><p>Moreover, the World Cup took place in a country that has long viewed sport as a politi-cal tool; either as a form of protest or for unifying and developing society. Indeed, aniconic moment of Nelson Mandelas presidency was his visible support of the South Afri-can (Springbok) rugby team at the 1995 rugby World Cup; a sport associated with thewhite Afrikaaner population that was responsible for his incarceration (Burnett 2009).The 2010 event has been viewed as the most momentous occasion in South Africas heal-ing process in overcoming its apartheid legacy second to the elections that took placein 1994 (The Economist 2010c).</p><p>Sport-for-development has aroused a range of (often evangelical) support and somecriticism. To its many advocates, sport is unchallenged in displaying traits that significantlybenefit the development process. Prominent amongst these are its ability to assist in theeducation process (literacy and attendance), highlight health awareness issues (anti-obesity,psychological, malaria, HIV Aids etceteras), unify diverse and often warring communitiesand promote gender equality. Young people are the principal beneficiaries as sport isviewed as a particularly alluring vehicle to this generation. By contrast, the sport-for-development literature often drawing on critical development theory notes the waythis relationship grossly exaggerates perceived benefits and furthers unequal power rela-tionships. I address in this article the growing academic debate and uses a reflection ofthe 2010 football World Cup as the context around which to reflect the binary discus-sions evident. It takes a critical stance that challenges the range of support for sport-for-development. It charts the perceived developmental benefits of the 2010 World Cup butalso draws on my experience of (and allegiance to) critical development theory to high-light limitations associated with it. In so doing, the critique of the developmental benefitsof the World Cup echoes more general concerns within the sport-for-development rela-tionship. The first section notes a significant level of limitations associated with criticaldevelopment studies reflection of sport-for-development in general and sports megaevents specifically. The second applies this debate to the 2010 football World Cup. Thediscussion is based on general research into sport-for-development alongside specificresearch surrounding the World Cup I undertook. It does so recognising its biases. Thearticle was written in the warm afterglow of the competition an event I attended dur-ing its latter stages. This might tend to exaggerate some of the positive, if transient, bene-fits of the event. This is counter-balanced somewhat by recognition that critical theoryhas influenced my outlook, and this has resulted in a tendency to problematise thesport development relationship. The result is a balanced snapshot of competing perspec-tives at this juncture and is of value because it illustrates the two-sided nature of thesport-for-development debate.</p><p>2. Critiquing Sports Relationship with Social and Economic Development</p><p>Core concerns of critical perspectives of the sport event development relationship areassociated with statements pertaining to the promised social and economic benefits associ-</p><p>888 Sport-for-development and the 2010 football World Cup</p><p> 2011 The Author Geography Compass 5/12 (2011): 886897, 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2011.00460.xGeography Compass 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd</p></li><li><p>ated with sports mega events to (i) the way that claims about its benefits are exaggeratedand (ii) the unequal power relationships that are inherent in sports and development,which inevitably transfers into mega events.</p><p>Horne and Manzenreiter (2006, 10) are representative of many social scientists in stat-ing that the forecasts of the benefits [of sport mega events] are nearly always wrong (seealso Szymanski 2011). This is the case for both attempting to measure the increases ininvestment, employment and tourism as well as gauging the impact on communities ofsport-for-development initiatives attached to sport mega events.2 This is partly due to thedifficulties of accurately gauging the impact of such events and programmes. Few followthe lead of Preuss (2004, 234) who argued vaguely that sports mega events not onlybring immense sums of fresh money into a city, but also accelerate its infrastructuraldevelopment to up to 10 years as a multiplier effect tends to surround sports events;further spending is stimulated by initial, direct spending invested at the start of an event.Measuring urban economic impact is variable, intangible and ambiguous at best (Pillay2008, 335). Pre-event claims often fail to take into account displacement of regularspending and alienating non-sport tourists regular business travellers. Moreover, for econ-omists, the use of inappropriate multipliers are a primary reason why these impact studiesoverstate the true economic gains to the hosts of these events (Matheson 2009, 63).</p><p>Exaggerations of the quantitative development benefits is largely due to the politicalnecessity of convincing host country populations that the event will not overly burdengovernment finances, the displacement of development spending and an increase in taxa-tion (Rose and Spiegel 2011). Balanced debate is therefore largely silenced particularlyduring a tournament because events become premeditated vehicles to articulate or signalkey messages regarding the host (Black 2007, 266). It should therefore come as little sur-prise that those articulating the development benefits (often termed the social and eco-nomic legacy) of sports mega events most are those with considerable vested interests intournaments, namely sports federation that organises the competition and or politicians,national sporting organisations in the host country, partnering multinationals, internationalfinancial institutions and consultants.</p><p>In terms of unequal power relationships, sport-for-development and sports mega eventshave not been able to divorce themselves from the balance of power inherent in the glo-bal political economy. Concerns have been raised that both are driven by objectives thatare heavily influenced by high-income country priorities (Levermore 2011a). Sports fed-erations such as FIFA have been criticised for being an instrument of neo-colonial domi-nation (Darby 2002, 168). They have also been accused of having politicallyunprincipled motives for supporting development initiatives. The International OlympicCommittees behaviour in this area for example,</p><p>is best understood with reference to the institutional environments it has inhabited. Rather thanadapting primarily because of ineffectiveness, the IOC has changed the meanings of its socialinterventions (often unwittingly) in order to secure legitimacy among its institutional peers andother exogenous actors in world politics (e.g. states, activist organisations, etc.)(Peacock 2011,477) (see also Torres 2011)</p><p>Sports mega events such as the Olympics and World Cup also result in the clearance ofcommunities away from stadia either forcibly or because of rising house prices (Al Jazeera2010). Unequal power relationships are also often manifested in negative stereotyping ofdeveloping countries by developed societies (Levermore 2004; Nauright 2010). Whatmakes this particularly perturbing is the manufactured consent...</p></li></ul>