World Cup economics benefits are virtually nill

The World Cup is finished, much to the chagrin of our favorite Argentine team that came so close to taking a third cup only to see their chances vanish on a single but great German goal in overtime.

The World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world. The governing body of football, FIFA, says something like 3.2 billion people watched at least a minute of the World Cup. It is a lot of people. Many of them are in Asia. And almost none of them see any economic benefits.

The audience is huge and so are the marketing campaigns by companies in the region like Sony (which powered much of the social media reach) and Hyundai (which provided transportation and logistic) and the investments in new facilities and infrastructure in Brazil. With all that, the economic benefits of the event are relatively small.

Particularly in Asia – where only South Korea, Japan and Australia are contenders – the economic benefits are negligible, as a study that Goldman Sachs  does regularly suggests.

Some businesses do OK. Television networks that can charge to watch the games can make some money. Bars that host parties and bring fans together, like Delaney’s or The Globe in Hong Kong, may also make a buck, as this story in last week’s China Daily Asia Pacific tells.

For just about everyone else, the World Cup is little more than a once-every-four-years distraction. A fun and emotional distraction but one with little economic benefit. 

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