The Joint Committees met with a Brazilian delegation from the Commission on Tourism and Sport, for an informal dialogue session about the 2010 FIFA World Cup . The Committee members shared their experiences and difficulties with the 2010 World Cup and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and also entertained questions from the delegates. The Committee discussed the potential social, financial and political benefits of a successful World Cup, highlighting South Africa’s dramatic growth in tourism. They said that the World Cup was much more than football and had much to do with a country’s growth and development, in the short term and long term. The Committee also emphasized the importance of utilising the stadiums after the World Cup. The delegates inquired about FIFA, expressing concern over their overall lack of respect for Brazil’s sovereignty. Acknowledging this, the Committee affirmed that one of the main challenges during the 2010 World Cup was the insistence by FIFA on various stringent measures, specifically in regards to stadiums and infrastructure, food and beverage sales and fan parks.
The Chairpersons and Members introduced themselves.
Mr C Frolick (ANC) said that he was proud of South Africa’s status as a member of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) forum, and he welcomed the Brazilian delegation to South Africa, saying that this was one practical expression of the current levels of cooperation between the two countries. Although he and his colleagues were given short notice of the delegates’ visit, they believed that it was significantly important for them to meet in order to strengthen relations between their two countries and to offer Brazil guidance for the 2014 World Cup.
Mr Gumede said he was certain Brazil would host a successful World Cup. Brazil had very high inequality just a few years ago, but this had been drastically reduced since, and he had full confidence in Brazil and their ability, both the government and citizens, to host the World Cup in 2014.
The Brazilian President of the Commission on Tourism and Sport thanked the South African delegation for their warm and gracious welcome. He briefly outlined some difficulties the Brazilian government was already experiencing with FIFA, explaining how FIFA was not respecting Brazil’s sovereignty and was trying to implement its own laws that would only benefit themselves. He congratulated the South African Parliament for hosting a successful World Cup in 2010.
The Parliamentary Deputy for Rio Grande do Sol appreciated the opportunity to be present. He said it was his Parliament’s responsibility to ensure that Brazil had a successful World Cup, financially, socially and politically. Whilst the World Cup was organised by FIFA, its energy derives from the people.
The Brazilian representative of the Province of Santa Cantarina reinforced the previous speaker’s comment, noting that FIFA must respect the sovereignty, experiences and culture of the host country.
The Representative of the Province of Parana asked if the Brazilian delegations could enquire about South Africa’s experiences with the 2010 World Cup.
Mr Mdakane asked the South African delegates to share their experiences with FIFA.
Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) explained that South Africa had to make stadiums disability friendly. From a policy standpoint, it had introduced some Bills, including the Safety and Sports Bill, (subsequently passed as an Act), specifically for the World Cup. The South African government also had to consider public liability.
Mr Frolick elaborated on South Africa’s experiences with FIFA and the World Cup. FIFA would undoubtedly argue that it was responsible for bringing the World Cup, so the host country must accommodate FIFA and, by extension, their sponsors. It would be likely to impose very stringent measures on the host country. Systematically, there would be FIFA experts who would begin to reside in all the different locations of Brazil where the Confederation Cup and World Cup would be taking place. Their task would be to look at both intellectual rights and trade rights. These sponsors and legal experts were called the “FIFA family.”
Mr Frolick noted that it was important to consider how the stadiums would be utilised after the World Cup. South Africa was able to negotiate The Legacy Programme. This was a specific fund used to train coaches, provide facilities, and other various mechanisms, to cater for the period after the World Cup. The FIFA family, along with some sponsors, donated some money from their proceeds to this fund. He stressed the importance of establishing a board that would oversee the usage of similar trust funds, after the World Cup.
The Parliament Deputy for Rio Grande do Sol asked whether there was any separate legislation for this fund.
Mr Frolick replied that South Africa did not change any laws to accommodate FIFA’s requirements. Instead, South Africa created two FIFA 2010 Special Measures enactments, which were intended as specific rules for the World Cup, to terminate once the World Cup ended.
Mr Frolick also cautioned the Brazilian delegation about infrastructure. In South Africa, for example, the building companies colluded on prices, all agreeing to quote inflated prices for any government project. The organisation called MATCH, which acted on behalf of FIFA, was also problematic. It had controlled ticketing, local accommodation and fan transportation. MATCH told hotels to reserve a certain number of amount rooms, yet, once the World Cup had commenced, had told the hotels that they did not need this accommodation any more. He also noted that FIFA would try to control all the fan parks. South Africa had negotiated to have two types of fan parks: the first was the official FIFA fan park, and the others were local fan parks, which were not under the control of FIFA.
Food and beverages were another issue. FIFA would insist that only companies that are part of the FIFA family can sell food inside and around the stadiums and fan parks. South Africa successfully negotiated to allow its own small businesses to sell food in the controlled areas. Finally, Mr Frolick also highlighted the importance of properly utilising the stadiums after the World Cup. Failing to do so would result in a negative response from constituents, for citizens would criticise their government for spending billions of dollars on stadiums that were no longer used.
Mr Gumede asserted that the World Cup was not only about soccer; it was also about economic growth and the image of Brazil that was portrayed to tourists, investors, and important stakeholders. The 2010 World Cup was not only beneficial to South Africa with regard to tourism, but also boosted skills development in areas such as hospitality, public services and marketing. The World Cup was essentially about a country’s growth, economically and socially, for the short and long term.
Mr Mdakane added that Brazil was in a much more advantageous position to host the World Cup, citing its larger economy, bigger population and prior experience hosting the World Cup. He wished the Brazilian delegation good luck with hosting the 2014 World Cup.
The Brazilian President of the Commission on Tourism and Sport thanked the South African parliamentarians for the opportunity to exchange information. He said that the World Cup would accelerate development in Brazil, specifically in relation to infrastructure, airports, and stadiums. He concluded by expressing his hope that Brazil may be able to welcome the South African Parliament and the South African people to the 2014 World Cup.
Mr Gumede thanked the Brazilian delegation for the warm exchange and presented them with a gift.
The Brazilian President of the Commission on Tourism and Sport thanked the Chairperson and presented him with a portrait of Brazil’s Parliament.
Mr Gumede thanked the Brazilian delegates for the gift and their presence at the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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