Invictus or evict-us? Media images of South Africa through the lens of the FIFA World Cup

2014-10-02T11:19:37Z (GMT) by Joseph Maguire
When looking at the bidding for and staging of mega-events in general, and for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in particular, a polarized debate concerning the possibilities and limitations involved therein ensues. Those who see positive benefits speak in either evangelical language, or marketing terms, regarding the power of sport to rebrand the country, regenerate economies, engender positive social capital, unite a nation or continent, and present a positive image to the world. The allure of hosting mega-events is so great that politicians attend bidding events and proclaim the virtues of their nation/city to unelected executive board members of major sport organizations in the hope that they will be chosen. Being part of the established groups of the sports industrial complex outweighs a more considered appraisal of the benefits of sport and the transparency/ accountability of global sport decision making. The case study outlined here examines the claims and counter-claims made and highlights how the media do not simply report a mega-event, such as the FIFAWorld Cup, but also frame and interpret how the tournament, and the country that stages it, in this case, South Africa, is viewed internally, and on a global stage. In order to consider the hosting of future mega-events, stakeholders in bidding countries need to consider this along with the other aspects involved. On this basis, a more reflective state policy towards sport and mega-events might be developed.