The media impact of South Africa?s historical hosting of Africa?s first mega-event: Sport and leisure consumption patterns

24 Feb 2015

The 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa was the biggest mega-event ever to be hosted on the African continent. This historical event had several social, economic and developmental imperatives, including destination profiling and changing negative perceptions of South Africa, specifically, and the African continent more generally. This research undertakes a media analysis of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in selected key markets, namely the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA. The study investigates the media impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on South Africa as the host nation and Africa's major tourism destination by undertaking a media analysis of the key source markets. Africa's first mega-event provides an ideal opportunity to examine how a host country (in this case South Africa) is profiled in relation to sport and leisure consumption patterns, including shifts in sentiment over time. Four time periods were identified, namely pre-, leading up to, during and post-2010. A qualitative analysis is undertaken, which includes content sourcing, content identification, semantic cluster analysis and the use of Leximancer, an analytical tool used to evaluate the content of textual documents, in this case primarily online newspaper articles. For each of the source markets identified, 400?600 articles were extracted. The findings show generally positive or favourable media coverage in relation to sport and leisure consumption patterns. However, a higher level of unfavourable media coverage was discernible during the pre- and lead-up periods, which may have influenced World Cup attendance figures and therefore leisure consumption. Specific tourist products (in particular Table Mountain and Robben Island) and the main host cities (Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban) had more mentions and stronger associations than South Africa generally. The positive imagery which prevailed during the event needs to be further emphasised in future sport events and the tourism and leisure marketing of South Africa.