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The World Cup Is an Absolute Money Pit

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Even when everything goes right, the impact can be nominal. The 2006 World Cup in Germany is still considered the ideal and created $194 million in net revenue for its organizing committee. As an overall economic driver, however, it sputtered. Germany took in $1.5 billion from foreign tourists that year, but got only a small portion of the $2 billion in licensed World Cup merchandise -- much of which went right back to FIFA. In fact, retail sales in Germany during the World Cup months of 2006 were actually lower than a year before thanks to most Germans leaving the area to avoid the World Cup throngs.

Even as Brazil does its own soul searching about the cost of its World Cup bid, other nations are suddenly being forced to consider how much a bid would mean to them. Following allegations that its host committee bribed FIFA officials and are exploiting foreign labor, there's a chance FIFA may revote its successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. That's made England a probable successor, though that nation just coughed up $14 billion for the 2012 Summer Olympics -- which came in $10 billion over initial estimates.

Which brings up another issue: The world's running out of suckers to host these events. The 2022 Winter Olympics still doesn't have a host country and nobody seems to want to burden themselves with hosting it. Stockholm, Sweden, backed out because it's too expensive. Munich, Germany, voted against hosting it, calling the International Olympic Committee "greedy" in the same stroke. A joint bid by Davos and St. Moritz was also rejected by voters, as was a Poland/Slovakia bid. That leaves Oslo, Norway -- which is already getting pushback from voters -- Kazakhstan, China and politically unstable Ukraine. Only one of those nations has proven capable of taking on such a challenge and only two seem like serious contenders. The "winner" gets an event that cost Sochi, Russia, $51 billion this year.

With much of the world still emerging from the recent economic downturn, super events such as the World Cup and Olympics don't have quite the same allure as they did in headier times. When nations aren't flush with cash, they're loath to flush it away on FIFA's global party on the pitch.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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