The Year Of The World Cups 

This year, 2019, was the year of the World Cup, with cricket, women’s football, netball and rugby all having their showpiece events. John Goliath reports.

England hosted the Cricket World Cup for the first time in 10 years. The start of the tournament was marred by rain-affected matches, with many “no-results” frustrating fans and players alike. However, this didn’t really dampened the spirits of the organisers, who were set for a massive payday.

Televised income

Money generated from television rights makes up the bulk of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) income when hosting big tournaments such as the men’s World Cup, with R7.2-billion expected in broadcast revenue alone.

The ICC was already guaranteed a boatload of cash before the tournament even started, as India’s Star Sports holds the global media rights as part of an ongoing eight-year deal, which is worth US$2.5-billion. Star Sports then sublicenses the rights to 25 different media companies across the world, including SuperSport in South Africa, who in turn gives the public broadcaster, the SABC, a few crumbs to feed on.

Hosting rights

The ICC, with former Proteas fast bowler Steve Elworthy at the helm as the tournament’s managing director, is solely responsible for the sponsorship and marketing strategy, and boast 21 commercial partners, including new companion Uber.

The host cricket union, the England Cricket Board (ECB), plays a big role in assisting Elworthy and his team with the organising, as it supplies offices, resources and staff. The ECB will get its cut of the pie as hosts of the event. It could make up to R1-billion, which will include its cut of the ticket sales.

South Africa last hosted the World Cup in 2003, and, although the Proteas bowed out early from the tournament, it was hailed as a great success.

Dr Ali Bacher, former South African test captain and administrator, was the executive director of the 2003 World Cup organising committee. He says that it takes more than just a couple of people sitting around a table, chucking around ideas, to organise a world event of this magnitude. “I remember the month before the opening match in Cape Town. My workload started at 5am every morning, because I kept on saying to myself I don’t want to have any regrets at the end of the tournament,” says Bacher.

“We made a profit of R400-million, which was then distributed to the affiliates and Cricket South Africa for the further upliftment of cricket throughout South Africa. After the World Cup was done, I can honestly say we achieved everything we wanted to do.”

Bacher says it was important for him that South Africans from all walks of life felt part of the World Cup. That it was theirs. They also had to make sure that the cricket stadiums around the country were in top condition to host the world’s best cricket players. “We wanted all South Africans to embrace the World Cup. So I appointed the outstanding Nomsa Chabeli as our marketing director, who also organised a World Cup event in Mamelodi one Saturday night,” Bacher says.

Bacher is currently in England for the World Cup and praised the work that Elworthy has done, although he hasn’t quite managed to find a solution for the early summer showers that have battered the United Kingdom. “This World Cup has been very well managed and organised. Another tribute to South African talent,” Bacher notes. “The television coverage is the best I have seen for a World Cup. So often they show you great moments of previous World Cups, which is terrific.”

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