The FIFA Confederations Cup is seen by some as the ultimate test of the host country's aptitude to stage the FIFA World Cup the following year. By this measure then, South Africa has been given a big thumbs-up by its own citizens according to the latest market research conducted on FIFA's behalf in the host country of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In the third instalment of a six-wave public opinion tracking study carried out by international research company SPORT+MARKT soon after the final whistle at the FIFA Confederations Cup in June, 87% of South Africans stated that they were convinced their country would be ready to host the competition. This level has steadily risen since the first wave of this study in December 2008, when 73% declared their confidence, followed by 83% in March 2009.
Not only are the South Africans confident about their country being prepared to host the world's most-watched sports event, but 89% are also convinced it will be a resounding success (Wave I: 80%, Wave II 86%). What is more, the findings suggest that respondents are keenly aware of the benefits the FIFA World Cup can have on some of South Africa's key public sectors - such as boosting the economy and job creation (90%), improving public infrastructure (91%) and strengthening the tourism industry (97%).
Despite the pride and eager anticipation felt in advance of the tournament arriving on the African continent for the first time, they also acknowledge the challenges posed by crime and the country's developing infrastructure. The study indicated that 66% of residents believe crime will be an issue for visitors to the tournament (up from 58% in the last wave), 77% are concerned that local businesses will exploit the tournament to inflate their prices (up from 59%), while one in every two respondents fears the transport infrastructure is below par (up from 42%).
These higher scores can in part be attributed to an increased awareness of the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup following the widespread coverage in the media of the FIFA Confederations Cup, where the South African national team defied expectations to reach the semi-finals. The scores reflect a higher sensitivity to all aspects of hosting the FIFA World Cup and an anxious enthusiasm to put on a good show for the watching world.
N.B.: This urban representative survey was conducted amongst 1,004 South African respondents in all major cities and 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Host Cities, with quotas for ethnic origin, age and gender. Interviewing was conducted face-to-face in calendar weeks 28-29.