Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Football comes together to do business in South Africa

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News, Johannesburg

Soccerex
A statue stands by the doors of Soccerex at Santon Convention Centre

The great and the good from the football industry are arriving in South Africa for the annual gathering of the Soccerex football business congress.

There is added interest in the international event this year, coming as it does just days before the 2010 World Cup draw in Cape Town on Friday, 4 December.

Thousands of delegates from football businesses, federations, clubs, and governments from around the world will descend on the upmarket Sandton district of Johannesburg in the hope of signing deals and showcasing their products.

Brazil bound

This year's event includes a two day football festival and a conference and exhibition lasting two-and-a-half days to bring together industry executives for "networking, socialising and learning".

Our three year partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government has strengthened Soccerex's global brand and provided a significant boost to their economy
Duncan Revie, chief executive Soccerex

After this year the event moves on to Brazil, with the World Cup 2014 hosts having fended off a host of other nations to secure the football industry event.

"This is our final convention in the Gauteng Province before we move to Rio de Janeiro," said Soccerex chief executive Duncan Revie - son of the former Leeds United manager Don Revie.

"Our three year partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government has strengthened Soccerex's global brand and provided a significant boost to their economy."

The convention will be held in Rio de Janeiro from 2010 to 2013, with Mr Revie calling it "a natural fit for our strategic objectives".

'Business opportunity'

As different parts of the world - including South Africa - exit recession, more than 4,000 delegates from the global football fraternity, along with over 300 exhibitors, from a total of 95 countries, have gathered in Johannesburg.

Firms exhibiting at Soccerex cover all aspects of the football industry - from commerce, training, design and event management, to logistics, marketing, manufacturing and construction.

"Attendees will be representing internationally-renowned brands and football clubs, all of them are looking to use Soccerex as an opportunity to do business," said Mr Revie.

Youngsters playing football in Alexandra in Johannesburg
It is hoped Soccerex can provide a boost for the Gauteng regional economy

And among those due to speak is Fifa President Sepp Blatter, whose organisation in recent weeks has been embroiled in the controversy surrounding the France v Republic of Ireland World Cup qualifier, as well as riots following the Egypt v Algeria play-off match.

The men charged with delivering the next two World Cups - Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 event, and Ricardo Teixeira, who will oversee the 2014 contest - will also be giving updates of their countries' progress.

The event is also becoming popular with former players looking to make an impression in the world of business, or in football administration

"This year's Soccerex Convention promises to be the best yet with Mr Blatter, thousands of international businesses, senior football officials and eight World Cup winners in attendance," said Mr Revie.

"As the president of Fifa has said - 'where football meets the economy and football meets the media it is Soccerex'," he added.

'Anti-recession measures'

Danny Jordaan will be giving an update about how South Africa is making progress with its stadium building, and all the other infrastructure demands put on the country ahead of the 11 June, 2010, kick-off for the World Cup.

As well as organising a smooth tournament, South Africa hopes that the World Cup will be a catalyst for the nation's economy, as the sport, tourism, transport, telecoms and construction sectors all receive a boost.

World Cup 2010 mascot Zakumi
South African business is looking for World Cup "opportunities"

Mr Jordaan also believes next year's World Cup will have a impact in building racial harmony and stimulating future economic growth in South Africa.

"The World Cup is about much more than just 64 games of football spread over 30 days," he says.

"This World Cup could unite South Africa more than any other event has done - the World Cup gives an unprecedented opportunity to nation-build, to brand our country and to leave a lasting legacy."

It comes as new data showed signs of recovery in the South African economy, with the country emerging from recession after its economy returned to growth between July and September.

Africa's biggest economy grew by an annualised, seasonally adjusted rate of 0.9% during the quarter, compared with the previous three months.

[Soccerex] is a very good opportunity for the export of skills and expertise and knowledge from the UK to African countries, including South Africa
Damon Lavelle, Populous

It represented the first growth in nine months, ending the country's first recession since 1992.

South Africa's growth prospects for 2010 will "depend on continuing with effective anti-recession measures and maximising the economic opportunities arising from the World Cup," said the Business Unity of South Africa (BUSA) organisation.

The World Cup, and events such as Soccerex, also give oversees firms, including those from the UK, the chance to gain a trading foothold on the continent.

"It is a very good opportunity for the export of skills and expertise and knowledge from the UK to African countries, including South Africa," says Damon Lavelle, principal at the London offices of global design practice Populous.

Representatives of the firm have been regular attendees at Soccerex for the past decade.

"Soccerex also gives UK firms the chance to win contracts based on price and quality - it is a fantastic showcase for them."



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