Impacts of Hosting the World Cup


The FIFA World Cup often referred to as the World Cup is a football tournament for international association by senior men and women national teams from contracting member states for the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA). FIFA is the global governing body for the event, which was inaugurated in 1930, and happens after four years’ interval, except for 1942 and 1946 due to World War II. Teams compete throughout the preceding three years during the qualification stage and 32 nations; including the automatically qualifying host nation participate in the one month event. The last finals were held in 2018 in Russia and France is the current champion. The next World Cup competition is scheduled for Qatar in 2022.

It requires some economic strength for a country to successfully host a World Cup considering the amount of facilities required during the event. Multiple venues are usually required for the 64 matches to be played within the scheduled period of time. For instance, 12 stadia were used for both 2014 and 2018 World Cup events in Brazil and Russia respectively. Most of the stadia were constructed specifically for the event while the already existing ones were renovated for the same. The general cost for hosting the 1994 World Cup in the USA was USD 500 million while that of Qatar is estimated at USD 220 billion (CW, 2011).


Security is supposed to be increased during a World Cup tournament to ensure safety of both the locals and the visiting individuals. Terrorists also seek global media coverage and congregation of multitudes to execute their plans, hence more cause for concern. A bomb exploded in the Dynamo stadium in Grozny Killing the Chechen president and wounding 100 people (Williams, 2018).

Social events such as the World Cup assembles people from across the globe bringing great joy to the host and presenting an opportunity to share its culture with the world. In the process, tourism is enhanced and national cohesion is promoted.

This paper discusses the various impacts of hosting a World Cup event including effects on health, socio-cultural and environmental effects. Recommendations are herein made to help reduce the negative effects and improve the positive ones.


a) Risk of Spreading Diseases

A total of one million foreign tourists attended the 2014 FIFA World cup in Brazil. Studies conducted prior to the tournament; (Hay, 2013) and (Lowe, Barcellos, & Coelho, 2014) showed possibilities of exposure to high risk of the Dengue fever infection within Natal, Salvador and Fortaleza cities. This however, did not go as earlier predicted since the spread of Dengue is higher during the rainy season (mid-September to mid-May) as opposed to June-July within which the tournament was held. Three cases of Dengue fever were confirmed during the 2014 FIFA World cup involving one Japanese and two US nationals. All the cases occurred in Belo Horizonte, which was not one of the anticipated risk areas (Aguiar, Mateus, Stollenwerk, & Pessanha, 2015).

The Covid 19 pandemic has had the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021; to allow the stakeholders more time to deliberate on how best to hold the event amidst the pandemic. A taskforce entitled “Here we go” was created under the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission to address the issues of making sure the competition and non-competition venues are available, the athlete qualification process, ticketing, Olympic broadcasters, the Olympic flame and torch relay among others (International Olympic Committee, 2021). To avoid the spread, only 950 people including 800 foreign officials and 150 Japanese officials were allowed into the national stadium during the opening ceremony for the Olympics despite the stadium’s capacity of 68,000 spectators (Siripala, 2021).

b) Health and Safety

Construction of World Cup stadia has raised concerns about health and safety of the workers involved in the process. Measures were put in place to regulate the labor conditions during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. FIFA collaborated with the Klinsky Institute for Labor Protection and Working Conditions to ensure safety for stadia construction workers. This was meant to improve performance from the 2014 Brazil World cup where 10 people died during the construction of World cup stadia. A control system for ensuring compliance with Russian legislation and the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions was incorporated in the construction process. The system recorded a 74% decrease in non-compliance and a 60% decrease in the anomalies at work.

Qatar is scheduled to host the next World cup in 2022 and construction of the stadia is underway. Most of the human resource is said to be from the immigrant population most of who are poor Nepalese, and are also said to experience difficult and unsafe working conditions. Despite complaints from international humanitarian organizations such as the Foundation for International Democracy (FID), corruption in Qatar makes it difficult to improve the workers’ condition. Amnesty International through its representative, Guillermo Whpei reports that 2,000 construction workers have died so far (Caballero, 2018).

c) Health and Exercise

FIFA has teamed up with the World Health Organization (WHO) to hold joint programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing participation in physical activity in line with WHO protocol through football. The joint programmes will integrate networks of WHO goodwill ambassadors, national associations, coaches, football players and volunteers in promoting health through football (WHO, 2021).

During the 2014 World cup in Brazil Dawn Scott; the strength and conditioning coach for the US soccer women’s national team pointed out the need for a player to be at their physical peak in terms of speed, agility, endurance strength and power (M and F, 2021) for the tournament. Players could cover 10-14 kilometres during a soccer game and this would help them lose 2-3 kilos, reduce the risk of injury and developed general body fitness (Manfred, 2015). The US women soccer team won the 2014 World cup by beating Japan 5-2. Four out of their five goals were scored within 15 minutes.

A study done by the University of Copenhagen revealed that playing football improves posture, power, increases jumping height and lower leg muscle mass (Dutta, 2018). The overall results from this study also showed that the soccer players had 30% improvement in muscle function and 15% increase in oxygen intake capacity. There was also notable improvement in bone mineralization among the elderly players involved in the research.


a) Promotes Cohesion

The World cup tournament brings together people from all walks of life that congregate to enjoy the eye-catching sporting activities. The tournament is usually associated with feelings of excitement, energy and togetherness among residents and sport tourists. The visitors affect the way the locals behave and their personal relationship and in return, the local culture affects the visitors generally leading to increased appreciation of the quality of life in the society. Thousands congregated at the Sandy beaches of Rio during the 2014 World cup to enjoy the Brazilian coast, culture, food and the popular Samba dance. The event created a positive socio-cultural impact that marked it a successful spectacle (Chalip, 2006) in both short and long term perspectives.

The 2010 FIFA World cup held in South Africa showed a strong connection between Cape Town residents and their South African Identity, patriotism and national pride (Visser, 2015). A total of 32 soccer teams with the hosts inclusive qualified for the tournament while the number of fans who watched the 64 matches from the stadia was 3.18 million. Other 3.2 billion people from around the world watched the games from home. This showed a lot of unity for the love of the game, with the South African culture being shared with the world.

b) Promotes Gender and Social Equality

Occurrence of the world cup greatly promotes the sense of equity within the population. This was clearly seen during the 2018 World cup tournament in Russia. Special parking lots, ramps and elevators were created for people with special needs including the physically challenged and the obese, and those with hearing impairment were given access to short summaries for the 64 matches in international sign language through digital platforms. This went a long way in creating a general feeling of acceptance and understanding of every member of the population, and their right to fair treatment despite their age, gender, disability, race or religious background.

The World cup tournament is also held for both men and women hence reflecting the recognition of both genders in the community. The 2018 World cup went on to impact people even outside Russia including the Iranians whom for the first time, and contrary to their custom, allowed women to enter Azadi Stadium together with men to watch a live broadcast of their team playing against Spain (Berman, 2018). This was a great gesture in the direction of women empowerment especially for a country with strict religious rules against women such as Iran.


a) Carbon Footprint

The carbon footprint has been observed to increase significantly with the occurrence of the world cup competitions. The world today is highly conscious when it comes to environmental protection although FIFA’s history of sustainability has notably been inconsistent. Considering Brazil’s ‘Green Cup’ of 2014 in Rio, there was a great irony in terms of performance bearing in mind that the event was initially envisaged to be the most environmentally conscious in the World cup history. It was meant to even possibly; recover the environmental damage caused by its immediate predecessor in South Africa 2010.

The Rio 2014 event was however, embarrassingly one of the costliest World cups ever associated with high carbon emissions. It recorded 2.72m tonnes of CO2 emission as compared to South Africa’s 2010 World cup which recorded 1.65m tonnes of CO2 emission. The amount of emission dumped into the atmosphere due to the Rio World cup was equated to that produced by a total of 560,000 cars in a period of one year (Sturrock, 2018).

b) Increased Waste Generation

The congregation of people from around the globe for the world cup event contributes to a significant increase in the amount of generated waste. The various countries sending their teams together with individuals celebrating their stars across the globe amount to a global event closely followed by majority of the world population. For this reason, many producers and retailers including soft drink companies, bars, pubs and supermarkets see increase in sales. A lot of waste is generated in line with this and litter usually ends up filling the streets including plastic bottles, pizza boxes and carrier bags among others (Sam, 2018).

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In Brazil 2014, an extra 39% of waste generated during the tournament was recycled surpassing FIFA’s target of 320 tonnes. This was attributed to the first time use of separate litter bins for recyclable and general waste during the world cup event. The event generated a 776 tonnes of recyclable and 1,595 tonnes of non-recyclable wastes summing up to 2,371 tonnes overall (Sam, 2018). This marks 0.068% of Rio’s average annual solid waste (UNEP, 2010). The 2018 Russia World cup was the first subject to FIFA’s new green certification requirement and it managed to see 12 stadia use less energy and water, and built with reduced environmental impact.


This section proposes 3 methods through which risks of hosting the World Cup may be reduced and the benefits maximized.

a) Green Stadium

This aims to reduce emissions to the environment and improve waste management within the facility.

First, the first consideration is segregation and recycling of generated waste to reduce the environmental footprint. Bins with appropriate labelling may be used to this effect such as during the 2018 World Cup (FIFA, 2018).

Second, energy saving can be achieved through automation of processes and use of more energy efficient technologies. LED lamps, which are ecologically friendly, easily recyclable, have longer life span, consume lesser energy and does not emit mercury into the environment after utilization may be used to light the stadia (FIFA, 2018).

Third, rooms may be heated by radiators with thermostatic valves to allow users control the temperature and avoid unnecessary heat energy losses. This can save about 10-15% thermal energy (FIFA, 2018).

b) Review Policies on Health

First, put policies in place to limit movement of people during mega-events and only allow participation of those who can be comfortably accommodated by the stadia with priority given to key participants (Siripala, 2021).

Secondly, promote policies on health and safety for workers, and put systems in place to monitor performance of such regulations (Caballero, 2018).

Lastly, incentivize sponsorship of sporting activities through tax waivers and reliefs for frequent sponsors of national sporting events to encourage undertaking of sports (Olckers, 2011).

c) Promote Cohesion and Equality

Eliminate any discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, race, age disability or social status.

Promote tolerance and understanding of diversity and allow all ethnic groups to participate in social, political, economic and cultural life of other communities (Butler & Aicher, 2014).

Organize and execute educational and training programmes on peace and harmony among ethnic groups to create public awareness on significance of cohesion (Maharaj, 2015).


The World Cup is an event that has attracted a lot of following across the globe since its inception in 1930. Different countries have had opportunities to host and participate in the tournament, which is held after every four years. A number of benefits and challenges are associated with hosting such a mega world event ranging from health, socio-cultural to environmental impacts among others. These have been observed from the various past World Cup events in which the hosts had different ways of addressing the challenges. A range of measures may however, be put in place including the green stadium initiative, policy reviews and promotion of national cohesion and equality to minimize the challenges of hosting the World Cup and maximizing its benefits.


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