Success, pride and unity – three words which are being used by the people of South Africa to describe the effects that staging the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ has had on their country. These feelings are supported by the positive experiences of international fans who visited South Africa during the event, as highlighted in post-event research commissioned by FIFA.
Back in December 2008, FIFA commissioned a six-wave study of South African residents with the aim of tracking public opinion towards the tournament from the initial build-up through to the final whistle and then beyond. The picture that emerged following the final wave of the survey is of a country that took increasing pride in a tournament which was considered not only a huge success in its own right, but also an important event in terms of promoting national unity.
When asked in 2008 whether they thought the FIFA World Cup would be able to bring the South African people even closer together, 75 per cent of those asked said they believed this was a possibility. The post-event findings suggest that the event strengthened this sentiment, with 91 per cent of South Africans claiming their country is now more unified. The post-tournament results also showed an upswing in national confidence, with nine out of ten feeling that their country had a stronger sense of self-belief post-tournament and 87 per cent feeling more confident than ever before in their nation’s capabilities.
These findings highlight what we felt all along, that hosting the event in South Africa would prove to be a huge success. I am pleased to see that our confidence is clearly reflected in public opinion.
Positive reflections were not reserved only for residents of the host country, as a separate survey of international visitors indicated. Almost three-quarters of those polled said that they were visiting South Africa for the first time, with fans choosing to stay in the host nation for an average of 12 days and combining their stays with other tourist activities. No less than 83 per cent of the international fans questioned expressed an intention to return to the country, while 94 per cent said they would happily recommend a visit to South Africa to their friends and family. These comments in particular will go down well with the country’s residents, 93 per cent of whom had already stated before the tournament that they expected South Africa’s tourism sector in particular to benefit from hosting the event.
“These findings highlight what we felt all along, that hosting the event in South Africa would prove to be a huge success. I am pleased to see that our confidence is clearly reflected in public opinion, as expressed in these surveys,” said FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.
Another aspect rated highly by the international fans was the extent of South Africa’s preparations for the tournament. The country’s stadiums, all of which were either newly built or renovated for the FIFA World Cup, were seen in a positive light by 99 per cent of visitors – a clear show of gratitude for the efforts made by the thousands of workers involved in the event’s construction phase.
With 98 per cent of those questioned commenting positively on the atmosphere in South Africa, it is clear that visitors returned home with fond memories of their time in the country. This is reflected by the fact that 84 per cent of international guests rated the host nation in an even more positive light post-event than they did before. The proportion of South Africans who felt that crime would be an issue for visitors to the tournament plummeted from 66 per cent pre-tournament to 27 per cent post.
One overriding emotion that shines through the collected findings is that of pride, and maybe a little bit of defiance – 91 per cent of South Africans said they were proud that their country was able to prove all the doubters wrong.
International research was carried out among a random selection of 1,480 international fans at the tournament, with on-site telephone number collection being used to conduct a post-tournament telephone survey.
Domestic research was conducted via an urban representative survey involving 1,000 South African respondents in all major South African cities and 2010 FIFA World Cup host cities, with quotas for race, age and gender.
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