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In 2010, the FIFA World Cup was held for the first time on the African continent. All around the world, sceptics wondered aloud whether host country South Africa had the wherewithal to manage such a huge event. But South Africa showed them all: it could and did! German World Cup experts were also instrumental in this success story. Now, they are already working on a new assignment.
"Football is our life, King Football rules the world" -- These are the lyrics to the legendary hit sung by the German National Football Team players in 1974 (German original: "Fußball ist unser Leben, der König Fußball regiert die Welt."). Indeed, football rules far more than just the hearts of players and fans: it also influences real policies. World football championships are global mega events and the negotiating power of the World Cup organizer FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, is huge. It holds host countries and cities to very strict guidelines. After all they are the focus of global attention for weeks and are tasked with carrying the spirit of football out into the world. This presents host cities with some difficult challenges.
When it was announced that the 2010 World Cup would be held in Africa for the first time, doubts were expressed by many as to whether South Africa was up to the challenge – whether the infrastructure, for example, would be ready in time or if security would be sufficient. Although South Africa had demonstrated impressive economic and political successes following the peaceful defeat of Apartheid, it also still faced many serious problems such as poverty, inequality and a high rate of criminality. Now it wanted to present itself to the world in the best light possible. The country repeatedly emphasised the symbolic meaning of the World Cup for the entire continent: "We want to show that Africa's time has come," wrote former President Thabo Mbeki during the application process in a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter in 2003. The pressure South Africa faced was enormous.
The strict guidelines FIFA has set for the countries selected to host this huge event affect key areas of urban development such as traffic and tourism infrastructure, transport, security and environmental protection – and South Africa was no different. These guidelines are intended to ensure that international visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience at the tournament. At times, however, they are also hard to balance with the other development plans in place for host cities. They severely limit an administration's freedom to make decisions, and citizen involvement is pretty much excluded.
At the same time, the World Cup is a huge opportunity for urban development: the investment volume is immense, and the cities receive funds that the federal and state governments could otherwise never afford. In short: the World Cup gives cities the opportunity to realize large plans that could not have been financed before.
Additionally a host city is given the opportunity to present itself to the wider public. This increases its attractiveness as a place for skilled people to live and work. Organising the World Cup can also generate a level of enthusiasm for and increase the sense of identification with a home city, positive effects that often last well beyond the event itself.
World Cup cities therefore face the difficult challenge of using the increased public attention and the funds available to benefit a city and its inhabitants as much as possible, while at the same time adhering to FIFA's guidelines.
In 2006, when Germany was basking in the international glow of its success as the World Cup host country, the South African host cities were still in the run-up phase to the mega event. At that time, the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW), then part of InWEnt – Capacity Building International, had an idea: they wanted to arrange for an exchange between the World Cup organisers and employees from the German and the South African host cities. The "South Africa 2010 – Germany 2006: Community partnerships with kick!" project, commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), was born.
Of course German organisers were well aware that the concepts developed for German cities could not simply be transferred to South Africa. The project was designed more as an exchange among colleagues on a level playing field where tips and experience could be passed on. The process focused on practical issues instead of on important official gestures and theoretical discourse. Professional fire brigades and emergency service providers, for examples, exchanged ideas about security, and the World Cup organizational offices talked about how to design fan events and the cultural framework program. Participants quickly found a common frame of reference and produced constructive results.
The overriding goal of this collaborative process was to develop competencies for sustainable urban development on both sides. All eleven German host cities worked together on the project. The DED and the GTZ, which did not come on board until 2008, were key local cooperation partners. Additionally the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and the Working Group of the Leaders of Professional Fire Brigades (AGBF) were involved in the area of non-police danger aversion.
From 2007 to 2010, German World Cup experts organised over 160 consulting missions and 17 workshops on issues like security, transport and traffic. They also kicked off educational and awareness-raising activities in Germany, using the public's enthusiasm for the World Cup and offering differentiated reporting on the host country and on Africa, sport and development. Community representatives relayed helpful and current information as part of this effort. Many events took place – project employees organised podium discussions for experts, for example, or showed a short project film at a public viewing.
But the project's foremost goal was to use this expert exchange to contribute to a successful World Cup, an objective quite admirably met. Both South Africans and Germans found the project and its results very valuable, and people involved on both sides were able to expand their skill sets.
The responsible parties at the host venues applied these skills directly to organising the World Cup. In some cities, disaster aversion and environmental protection were improved, effects that will continue long after the World Cup. German experts expanded their skills in consulting and intercultural communication. The German cities involved profited too, since their experts are now even more adept at organizing large sporting events and have international experience. Experts received training for their assignments from the Preparation Office for Development Cooperation, which offered courses on intercultural cooperation and applied geography.
A number of factors contributed to the project's huge success. It was important that the consultations took place on a level playing field – among equal colleagues, openly and constructively. To promote trust, permanent consultant teams of two General Host City Advisors were formed. These teams regularly visited two host cities, and added experts – known as Special Host City Advisors – from different fields as needed. Another success factor was the project's flexible and open focus on the specific requests made by the South Africans.
This process ultimately also increased communication among the South African host cities as well. In non-police danger aversion, for example, they even collaborated at a national level. This was very important, since the 2006 World Cup in Germany had clearly demonstrated that cooperation among the host cities was a considerable factor in the event's huge success. The South African host cities consulted with each other and reached agreements, which enabled them to present a united front to FIFA.
The political support of both countries was also important for the cities and the national governments alike. The project was even adopted into governmental negotiations between Germany and South Africa, which gave it great visibility and rendered agreements even more binding. Additionally support from the German Cities Counsel played a key role in Germany, while in South Africa the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the National Treasury proved reliable partners.
The final evaluation concluded that the planning, monitoring and evaluation systems and coordination among the development cooperation organisations involved needed some improvement. It also suggested the lasting effects beyond the World Cup should be more of a factor when planning activities.
The project in South Africa was so successful that the German experts involved have jumped right into the next new project: Brazil 2014. The starting position here, however, is completely different from that in South Africa: Brazil is the seventh largest domestic economy in the world and can claim its rightful place in the circle of the powerful for more reasons than that alone. In areas such as poverty reduction, fighting criminality and reducing deforestation, the country has made impressive strides in recent years. Yet there are still huge inequalities in income distribution and the state of development varies widely from region to region.
With respect to the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilians clarified early on and with great self-confidence that they would organize their event in their own way. Considering the enthusiasm most Brazilians feel for football, it is sure to be a huge, boisterous celebration of the sport.
Still the project's methodological approach, guided by a principle focus on the partner country's needs, will not change fundamentally: Experts will exchange information in consulting sessions and workshops. The only difference is that the Brazilian partners will be expected to contribute more to the overall costs, as the evaluation of the South African project suggested.
There will again be educational and awareness-raising activities in Germany that will particularly emphasise the economic, political and cultural links between German and Brazilian cities. São Paulo, for example, is home to the largest concentration of German companies abroad. Wherever possible, these relationships should be developed into lasting partnerships. The Federal Foreign Office's Germany Year in Brazil 2013/2014 will offer additional opportunities here.
So far five host cities are participating in the project organised in Germany by SKEW again, now part of ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL, and in Brazil by GIZ São Paulo. Two more are scheduled to join by the end of the year. On the German end, a few of the cities that hosted the Women's World Cup 2011 have also come on board.
In the preparatory analysis the Brazilian cities expressed a particular interest in issues such as transport and tourism infrastructure, public safety, environmental protection and volunteer programmes. Some consulting missions on these topics have already taken place, and were received with great interest by both city officials and citizens. One initial workshop on non-police danger aversion is scheduled for September and will be jointly run by the BBK and AGBF. The German partners have already convened at two network meetings to exchange information. A project between the cities of Cologne and Rio de Janeiro to use street football to promote youth education is in the planning stages.
Coordinating with the Brazilian partners has proven to be a challenge. The city governments there are working at full capacity and have little time to deal with new suggestions. Local elections are scheduled for 2012, which are sure to result in political conflicts, and accusations of corruption are making the rounds. At the same time, local politicians are being practically overrun with commercial offers of support. While the "Host City Programme" is quite distinct from any of these, key decision-makers would need to take the time to learn about the project to be aware of this fact. Right now the project team's primary task is to convince politicians to find this time in their busy schedules. Where they have succeeded and initial consultations have taken place, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
The "World Cup Brazil 2014 – Germany 2006/11: Partners for sustainable urban development" project is a new, exciting experience for everyone involved. It again demonstrates the great potential communal exchange has for mutual learning and more efficient action at the local level.