ANN ARBOR—Big soccer clubs in nations that host the World Cup enjoy significant bumps in attendance after the event, which provides at least a small ray of sunshine amid the howls of protest from Brazilians over the extravagant hosting costs.
Economists have shown that the cost of hosting big sporting events like the World Cup dwarf any perceived economic benefits for the host.
However, the 15-to-20 percent attendance boost Brazil will enjoy after the World Cup offers a bit of a consolation, says University of Michigan sports economist Stefan Szymanski—though it still won't offset the price to host the event.
"Hosting these events seems to boost the image of the club game with long-term benefits for the league," said Szymanski, U-M professor of kinesiology. "Brazil will be hoping that the World Cup will raise the Brazilian domestic competition to the level of Spain's La Liga or the English Premier League."
Even clubs that play in stadiums in the host country that didn't host World Cup games benefit, he said.
Szymanski and Bastien Drut of the ESG Management School in Paris looked at attendance during and after the two major international soccer championships: the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships. They examined attendance for 10 championships and 11 years of attendance (five years before the event, the season of the event and five years after the event).
Following the event, attendance jumped 15-to-25 percent in the top two divisions in the domestic league and stayed there for roughly five years. However, even accounting for increased attendance and the possibility of higher ticket prices, the economic return was poor and none of the hosts recouped their investment.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil runs from June 12 to July 13.