World Cup in Spotlight, But Not for All the Right Reasons

By SportsFOXBusiness

Eyes around the globe are locked on Brazil as the world’s most-watched sporting event gets underway.  The 2014 FIFA World Cup is a month-long event featuring 32 countries and a total of 64 games.  For Brazil, it is the second time the country will serve as host of the tournament.  The first was in 1950.

Subway strikes and protests are plaguing the country after the government spent billions of dollars to prepare for the games.  The cost for hosting the tournament is projected to be $11.5 billion, making it the most expensive World Cup ever.

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According to Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism, the country is expecting about 3.7 million visitors over the next month.  Each visitor is estimated to attend an average of four World Cup matches and spend about $2,488 during their stay.  In total, this could give Brazil’s economy a $3 billion boost.  Approximately 710,000 permanent and temporary jobs will be generated during the tournament.

But despite the boost in tourist spending and job creation, many Brazilians are frustrated with how the country has prepared for the games.  A recent poll by the Pew Research Centre found that 61% think hosting the event is a bad thing for Brazil because it takes money away from schools and other public services, and just 34% think the World Cup will create more jobs and help the economy.

“Brazil has certainly spent a great deal on infrastructure for the World Cup,” Robert Boland, NYU Professor of Sports Management said.  “The key question isn’t how much money Brazil will make from the World Cup; rather it’s the legacy of this event and how much use the new stadiums will get in the future.”

Fans travelling to the 12 host cities spread throughout the country’s five regions can expect to pay hefty prices as tickets are some of the most costly in all of sports.  The most expensive ticket so far was for the kickoff game between Brazil and Croatia, according to TiqIQ.  The average price per ticket was $1,461.50 and the cheapest available ticket for the match was $1,000.

Uruguay vs. Costa Rica, scheduled for June 14, is currently the most affordable game in the tournament with an average ticket price of $78.  Its cheapest ticket is selling for $30.

Viewership is expected to hit a record. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will broadcast all 64 games live.  ESPN and ESPN2 will televise a total of 54 matches.  ABC will air 10 games, including the final on July 13.

For the first time ESPN subscribers, which includes 100 million people in the U.S., can watch the games online via its WatchESPN website and WatchESPN apps for tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes.

And social media is abuzz as 40% of Facebook's 1.28 billion global users are soccer fans.  The social network added new features to help fans follow the World Cup.  Users can track specific teams and players throughout the tournament in the network’s special sector, called “Trending World Cup,” which will include scores, game highlights and posts from teams.  Twitter users can tweet and track the tournament’s 64 matches through the hashtag #WorldCup and follow official accounts such as @FIFAWorldCup.

FIFA is expected to generate $4.5 billion in revenue from this year’s tournament, with much of it coming from TV and marketing rights.  ESPN handed over $100 million for rights to the South Africa and Brazil World Cups. Companies including Adidas, Sony and Visa are paying $25 million to $50 million per year for sponsorship rights.

But it’s not just the companies sponsoring the event who could profit.  “If all goes well, local Brazilian businesses could benefit over time,” Boland said.  “Domestic company stock prices can go up dramatically.”

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