For the next 10 days the posts on this blog will focus on the FIFA World Cup which is due to kick-off in the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow on Thursday 14th of June. This is the first time Russia has hosted either of the big two football tournaments. Games will be played across 11 different cities, spanning a huge geographical area, from Kallingrad in the west to Yekaterinburg in the east. The distance between these two cities is almost 2,500 km (1546 miles). That is roughly the same as Cork to Sofia in Bulgaria.
Like all major events, the tournament is likely to cost more to the Russian state than is recouped in revenue. However, FIFA suggest that the benefits lie elsewhere. According to the government bodies Russian's can look forward to the following:
"Some of the benefits experienced by host countries of FIFA competitions include:
- A catalyst for new and improved facilities to support the development of the game at all levels;
- Increased number of and higher quality football development programmes for both the elite game, talent identification and grassroots;
- Increased cooperation and goodwill between the various stakeholders – the member association, the government and other bid stakeholders such as the bid host cities, commercial partners, the media and the community at large;
- Increased civic pride and community empowerment as groups of stakeholders get to contribute to and support the bid, together with new skills and training for those involved in delivering the event;
- Enhanced partnerships and greater commercial activity and investment from new sponsors, media, broadcasters and large corporations;
- Help in breaking down social barriers to participation and high performance by both women and young people;
- Using successful players as role models to encourage young and emerging players and to promote health and other social benefits”.
Two notable studies have looked at the feel-good factor associated with hosting the world’s biggest football tournament. Maenning and Sussmuth (2007) examined the 2006 World Cup in Germany and found locals were happier after hosting the tournament. In former East Germany the effects were found to be greatest, particularly among the less-well educated. Kavetos and Szymanski (2004) consider a longitudinal data set from 1978 to 1994. Using happiness data from the Eurobarometer Survey the authors found that hosting a tournament has a positive, significant effect on a country’s happiness, both during and after the Finals. As one might expect, those under 50, males, the unemployed and less educated saw the greatest jumps in happiness.
The happiness of the Russians might depend on how long the their team stay in the competition. At odds of around 40/1 to win the tournament that may not be too long...