The quarter finals have just ended and soccer fans like you and me can’t wait for the matchup between Holland vs Uruguay and Germany vs Spain. We are all to pre-occupied with the goals, the flukes, the sublime skills that are all to be seen on the pitch. Yet how many of us actually do wonder, the World Cup, the most widely viewed sports event of the world, still retains the sporting essence behind?

The FIFA World Cup, took the current host nation South Africa 6 years in planning and preparation. Upgrading five of the existing stadiums, building five more from scratch, improving the basic infrastructure in all cost the South Africa government an estimated US$ 3.7 bil. It should be noted, despite that South Africa is relatively richer than its neighbours, vast population of its people are still rural poor. The development of the country has not spread beyond the economic zones, poverty and unemployment are still widespread.

The construction of the stadiums and amenities has created jobs for the locals but for only a short time. After July, when the fanfare of the world cup has died, the South Africa government and its people are left with several stadiums without much further use for them, not to mention the cost of upkeeping the stadiums.

And thoughts of the government cashing in on the ticketing for the matches did not materialize too. Unofficial sources quoted only 10% of the ticket sales goes to the government, the rest pocketed by FIFA. Take for instance, the new Cape Town stadium with a seating capacity of 64,100. Taking into consideration of the building cost of US$ 600 mil and the average ticket cost of US$ 139, assuming the turnout is 64,000 for the 8 matches held there, the ticketing revenue generated is a measly US$ 7.1 mil for the South Africa government.

And for the locals who hoped of cashing in on the riches that the football fans brought to their land, many were disappointed. FIFA has indicated that all F&B and merchandise to be sold with 500m from the stadiums have to come from the official sponsors. This means that local traders and food vendors on their push-carts can only stare and sigh from a distance. And to add on this, the production rights of the official mascot did not go to any local company, ended up somewhere in China instead.

The reward for winning the World Cup is US$ 30 mil and for those teams that exit during the group stages, each is given US$ 8 mil. The total reward given to all the teams is US$ 420 mil. Pretty mind-boggling figures.

Not quite.

Sponsorship provided FIFA with an unofficial estimate of US$ 1 bil. Media rights added another US$ 2 bil. Add in the ticketing and merchandise sales and you will get a truly mind boggling figure. Suddenly the prize money seems small and insignificant.

The World Cup has brought nations together to a contest of soccer skills and team tactics. The sporting spirit binds the players, coaches and fans alike, although the drive from FIFA to host the event seems doubtful in my eyes when so much monetary gains go to them instead of the ones that really matters.