SPORTS DIPLOMACY: SOUTH AFRICA 2010 WORLD CUP
SPORTS DIPLOMACY – SOUTH AFRICA
When the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) awarded South Africa the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, South Africa seized the opportunity as a Public and Cultural Diplomacy opportunity to re-brand South Africa. However, being the first time that an African country would host the World Cup, international media raised their doubts about the capability of South Africa to successfully host a global event of this magnitude against a background of high crime rates which had in previous years prevented tourists from visiting South Africa. South Africa, nevertheless, embarked on a rebuilding and rebranding exercise with a budget of approximately R40 billion to improve its infrastructure, including stadiums and transportation links in preparation for the World Cup. The country also utilized the build up to the FIFA World Cup as a golden opportunity to portray itself in a positive light and to rekindle the declining racial relations of its multi-racial population, whose race barriers had been replaced by socio-economic divides. (Telegraph, 2010)
According to Laverty, 2010, In 2009, one year ahead of the FIFA World Cup, South Africa launched the “Brand South Africa 2010 Campaign”, which was divided in four main segments, starting with ‘Football Fridays’, which encouraged both private and public sector employees to go to work in casual clothes every Friday, donning the green and yellow colours of the South African Football team. ‘Fly the Flag for Football’ encouraged all South Africans to fly their national flag or its colours as a symbol of unity from key rings to t-shirts to car flags, designed in the four colours of the South African Flag. South Africa’s ‘Diski Dance’ was promoted as a creative way to welcome visitors to the country and posted on YouTube and other social media. Schools and business houses were encouraged to play the ‘South African National Anthem’ as way for everyone to learn to sing the National Anthem in preparation for a big sing-out to the world during the kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. (Laverty, 2010)
By investing in a sporting event the magnitude of the FIFA World Cup as part of its public and cultural diplomacy exercise, South Africa was able to promote the country’s passion for an international game and to portray South Africa as a hospitable nation and host to the world. With world media broadcasting positive images and stories around the globe, this yielded positive effects on the international community and the rest of the world, which can be argued boosted South Africa’s soft power. Through the 2010 Campaign, Brand South Africa created a united and hospitable host population thereby portraying a positive view of the country, which formed part of the positive memories that many visitors took away from the 2010 World Cup which refuted paternalistic and pessimistic views held prior and in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup.
- 1. Laverty, A, 2010. ‘Brand South Africa: A Public Diplomacy Case Study’, 19 November 2010 http://theafricanfile.com/public-diplomacy/brand-south-africa-a-pubic-diplomacy-case-study/ Accessed ( 27 April 2012)
- Telegraph, 2010 ‘World Cup 2010: South Africa President Jacob Zuma: World Cup Vital for Country’s Future’. The Telegraph, 7 June 2010 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/south-africa/7809683/World-Cup-2010-South-Africa-president-Jacob-Zuma-World-Cup-vital-for-countrys-future.html Accessed 15 April 2012)
- Wandermelon, 2010 ‘World Cup Links, Tickets and Travel to South Africa and other important stuff for Goal-Oriented Travellers’ http://wandermelon.com/2010/05/21/world-cup-links-tickets-and-travel-to-south-africa-and-other-important-stuff-for-goal-oriented-travelers/