B2: Essay – Is hosting a major sporting event worth the cost?

The World Cup in Brazil, the European Football Championships in Portugal, the 2012 London Olympics.  Whenever major sports events take place there is inevitably a debate about whether the huge expense it takes to host them is justifiable.  Towards the end of June, students in our B2 group debated this hot topic and some of them followed up this up with an Essay discussing this statement:

Spending vast amounts on sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games is a waste of money

Essay 1

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world and to find out which country has the most powerful team, a World Cup is organized every four years by FIFA.  This year the event is happening in Brazil, a under-developed country with many issues related to poverty, social injustice, a shortage of housing and criminality.  One of the demands which FIFA made on Brazil before the event was that the country must invest in new stadiums and other infrastructures.  As a result, the Brazilian government spent millions of Euros on new structures.  As a result, many people started to protest on the streets against the expense.

On one hand, those in support of hosting such tournaments, argue that these types of the events promote the country worldwide.  Not only do they attract more tourists during the event, but they will also bring more in over the next few years.

On the other side, people are protesting that the money spent on such events is outrageous. They support the point of view that the money would be more usefully invested in education, health and public transportation.

In my opinion we have to arrive at a compromise.  Firstly, it’s true that these events promote a country worldwide. Take the example of Portugal, host of the European football championship in 2004, tourism has risen over the years since this event and this year it has beaten its record for the number of visitors.  However, at the same time, the majority of public money should be invested in those areas which citizens need the most:  Education, Health or Public Transportation.  What’s the point of having sophisticated stadiums, if the country has the highest illiteracy rate in the world or the worst hospitals?

In conclusion, I strongly believe that the Brazilian Government could have been more cautious in the investment it made for the World Cup, perhaps building fewer stadiums and more schools and hospitals in order to promote the country as both a nation of football fans and as a developed country.

Essay 2

Is spending vast amounts on sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympic games a waste of money?

Many people feel that spending money on events like these is wasteful because there are other priorities like health, education, or security for example.  They agree that in countries where some people don’t have anything to eat, it is unbelievable that governments inject public money into infrastructures that will not give a justified return.

From another point of view, others argue that events like these bring visibility to the host countries and employment. They think that the stadiums could have other uses after the events so they can take advantages and benefits from the investment.

In my opinion, on one hand, the money invested is excessive in countries with economic problems.  However, on the other hand, although the employment created is often only temporary, sports tournaments can create lasting jobs too.  Especially if the spaces are used in a way that the stadiums become profitableThis was the case in my city, Coimbra, which had a stadium built for a football competition.  It has a mall, a gym, a pharmacy, a medical clinic and other services in it.

In conclusion, I think that this is a complex issue with many pros and cons.  Taking everything into consideration, I honestly do not know if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

 Essay 3

I am under the impression that being a host for a big sports event, like the football World Cup, may bring benefits to the country but that it can also have drawbacks.

For instance, such events are invaluable in terms of providing opportunities for cultural exchange, promoting the country as a tourist destination, and they may also boost people’s sense of patriotism.  However, in some cases, like Brazil 2014, that effect can be reversed.  Especially when the nation feels the money invested in facilities and infrastructure could have been spent catering to the populations’ basic needs like health and education.

Back in 2004, the Euro 2004 football tournament was hosted by Portugal.  Although at first most of the people were enthusiastic about it and how it would benefit the country’s economy, in the years following the event, people have seen downsides.  Many people realised that most of the stadiums built for the championships were not being fully taken advantage of after the tournament.  Add to that fact a severe economic crisis, and nowadays many of those who were in favour of hosting the games at first, now claim it was a waste of money.

In conclusion, I believe that these kinds of events, like everything in life, have good sides and others that are not so beneficial.  Everyone has a choice to try and see how they can make the most of an opportunity and it is my view that local people in countries which host sporting events, should try and give a new life to the underused facilities that remain in place when the fans and sports stars have left.

Further reading and listening:

World Cup Boom and Bust.  Will the World Cup improve life in Manaus?  by Chris Feliciano Arnold in Harpers Magazine.

Brazil’s expensive World Cup stadiums could become housing complexHuffington Post

London 2012:  Lords report warns of faltering Olympic legacy, BBC Sport

Will the World Cup leave a positive legacy in Brazil?  by Jorge Knijnik and Ramon Spaaij in The Conversation

FIFA World Cup ‘hits the poor hardest’ by Bill Wilson, BBC News

Key vocabulary from the debate lesson:

Spending money:  to run up huge debts, to get into debt, to invest heavily in stadiums, allegations of corruption, to cut back spending on something, inject money into a sporting event, to misspend money, private/public money/investment, sponsorship revenue, rising costs,

Sports event related vocabulary:  a tournament, a championship, build stadiums, the eyes of the world are on Brazil, fans

Benefits of hosting sports events:  to boost tourism, to develop a sense of national pride / patriotism, to attract visitors from abroad, to leave a positive / lasting legacy

Drawbacks of hosting sports events:  lack of a legacy (e.g. no long-term benefits to people living in the country), with the benefit of hindsight we can see that money was misspent

The situation in Brazil at the start of June:  Ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, we’ve seen people taking to the streets in protest at a number of perceived social injustices such as a shortage of housing, schools and hospitals.  In other cases, there has been industrial action taken by transport workers who feel they are underpaid.  All these grievances might lead us to question whether it is right to spend huge amounts of money on building stadiums for an international competition when there may be more pressing needs for the local population.

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