HOSTING THE WORLD CUP: GOALS AND OWN-GOALS

HOSTING THE WORLD CUP: GOALS AND OWN-GOALS

The World Cup starts tomorrow. And as many of you will know, watching the event — or being married to someone who does — is an emotionally exhilarating and exhausting experience that lasts for weeks. Hosting the World Cup, meanwhile, is a hugely expensive logistical nightmare for the countries that do it. And yet every four years countries vie like crazy, both above and below board, to land the event.


Why? Well, from a geopolitical perspective — since we are, after all, politics nerds — here are a few upsides and downsides of hosting the most popular sporting event in the world.

The economic benefits are meager but conveniently concentrated: Killjoy economists say that the World Cup doesn’t net much for GDP. Most of the money spent on infrastructure goes to stadiums that are hard to run at a profit once the tournament is over, and while an influx of tourists provides a short-term boost, it leaves little lasting economic benefit. That said, funneling lucrative and easily-inflated stadium contracts to politically-connected firms is a nice way to keep your squad on side.

The political effects can cut both ways: Holding a successful event like this can be a source of national pride that demonstrates a government’s capacity and boosts its image. Some research even shows that when home teams win, incumbents get a boost at the polls.

But the event can also be a political liability. Even in futebol-crazy Brazil, thousands of people hit the streets in 2014 to protest wasteful spending on stadiums for that year’s World Cup under banners that asked “World Cup for Whom?” Those protests, mind you, were part of a swell of anti-establishment sentiment that ultimately led Brazil into its current political and economic crisis. No such outcome in Russia is conceivable, mind you — Putin’s 82 percent approval rating makes it hard for the beleaguered opposition to even take a shot on goal at the moment.

Burnishing the global bona fides? Sporting events like the World Cup are also used to project power or newfound geopolitical influence. The Beijing Olympics in 2008 were seen as China’s 21st century coming-out party. And when Putin first lobbied to land the World Cup ten years ago, that was his vision as well.

But scoring a big sporting event can only go so far. Russia’s international actions — war in Ukraine, doping in the Olympics, alleged meddling in US and European elections — have tarnished its image. A poll last year showed that majorities in just three countries view Russia positively these days.

Will hosting this year’s World Cup help? Doubtful. For Putin’s critics the event will shine a light on the corrupted, rule-breaking, revisionist regime they see when they look at the Kremlin. For Putin’s supporters, who see him staking out an assertive role for Russia in an increasingly multipolar world, it’ll be proof that no matter what Russia does right, the haters will still hate. ​

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

China's GDP grew a lower-than-expected 4.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, a whopping three percentage points less than in the previous period. It's a big deal for the world's second-largest economy, the only major one that expanded throughout the pandemic — and now at risk of missing its growth target of 6 percent for the entire year.

Normally, such a drastic slowdown would have put the ruling Communist Party in a tizzy. But this time, Xi Jinping knows this is the price he must pay for his big plans to curb rising inequality and boost the middle class at the expense of the CCP's traditional economic mantra: high growth above all else.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

More Show less

China gets away with a lot these days in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. That's because over the past decade, its economy has experienced explosive growth, making it an indispensable trading partner for almost every country in the world. At the same time, China has been expanding its share of the global economy, and is now set to overtake the US as the world's biggest economic powerhouse in the near term. We take a look at China's annual growth rate and share of the global economy based on GDP over the past decade.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is the legacy of Colin Powell?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tragically died of complications of COVID-19. He was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first Black National Security Advisor and the first Black Secretary of State. And he leaves a legacy of a long career, dedicated almost entirely to public service.

More Show less

Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

More Show less

5,600: Myanmar's military junta will release from prison 5,600 people who were jailed for protesting against last February's coup. The gesture, the biggest act of amnesty since the junta took power, comes just days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which rarely interferes in members' internal affairs, said it would exclude the head of Myanmar's military from an upcoming regional meeting.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Colin Powell's legacy

US Politics

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal