Cashing in on the Cup
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Sport is big business and football is the biggest of all.
FIFA, the game's world governing body, estimates that the sport generates $250 billion each year which includes everything from television rights to soft-drinks sold inside stadiums.
The largest event in football is the quadrennial World Cup tournament, currently underway in Japan and South Korea. The 2002 Cup is set to generate at least $2 billion for FIFA alone.
It tips sales from licensed merchandise to hit $1.2 billion, while income from broadcasting rights are likely to top $800 million -- a ten-fold increase from the $79 million FIFA received from the 1998 World Cup held in France.
Backed by these sorts of numbers, football is doing spectacularly well.
Not included in the estimates, is the cash coming in from FIFA's World Cup sponsors. After all the paperwork was signed, there were 16, what FIFA calls, 'official partners' of the 2002 World Cup, including Budweiser, Fujifilm, Adidas, McDonalds, NTT Group and Hyundai.
Riding the wave
What also hasn't been revealed is how much they forked out in the fiscal scrambling to ride the curl of the football wave.
But with fans tuning in to the event from around the world -- the cumulative global TV audience of this year's tournament is expected to be a whopping 41 billion – the sponsorship alliance is considered a good business deal.
"The great thing about football is that the fans span from youth all the way through the family," says Scott McCune, the vice-president of World Wide Sports for Coca Cola -- the company's sports marketing vehicle.
"It's really a family event so we are able to take a brand like Coca Cola ... and utilize football as a way to bring something special to football."
When asked how Coca Cola measures the returns, McCune declined to discuss figures or bottom lines, instead saying the sponsorship is part of a careful strategy to tap into the "passion" of the game.
"World Cup finals is the pinnacle of the football strategy that we have," he said.
"We'll be doing World Cup programs in more than a hundred countries around the world and we'll be able to quantify not only the sales lift that we get around the program but also the change in the behavior of consumers and the relationships we have with consumers by linking into the passion of football," he says referring to the company's football development and sales programs.
The lucrative business of the World Cup is not lost on the local players or even at street level.
South Korea has downgraded forecasts but still believes around 300,000 tourists will visit the country to watch World Cup matches.
Local businesses are already tucking in to some of that tourist pie.
Store prices have gone up in many of the shopping districts, sometimes as much as 20 percent. All sorts of football related paraphernalia from t-shirts to footballs have also hit the shops.
"Don't discount to foreigners, South Korea needs their money," says one street vendor to a local haggling over a hat for an international guest.
With spending on the up in South Korea as well as Japan, analysts are already bringing out the measuring scales.
Templeton Emerging Markets Fund's Mark Mobius estimates the World Cup will boost Korea's gross domestic for 2002 by as much as two percent, a huge raise in the government's forecast of 5.7 percent.
He says the impact of the Cup will last well beyond the month long tournament itself.
"It usually last about a year because people have their eyes open," he told CNN. "They land at this new [Incheon] airport, they see these modern buildings, they see the economy booming and they stay interested."
With more and more football fans arriving each day, filling up hotels, piling into restaurants and hitting South Korean shops, the business on and off the football pitch is certainly booming.
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