Category Archives: World Cup

The finances behind the World Cup 2026 hosting decision

This week FIFA announced its decision that the 2026 World Cup would be held in the Americas, and jointly hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, who defeated a competing bid from Morocco in North Africa.

The 2026 tournament will be an expanded tournament, that will feature 48 countries and a total of 80 matches, a significant increase from the 2018 tournament which also began in Russia this week and which features 32 teams and 64 matches scheduled. The 2026 matches in the  Americas will be split with 10 in Canada, 10 in Mexico, and 60 in the USA, including every game from the quarter-finals onwards.

FIFA also published the report of their analysis of the bids leading to the decision on the World Cup award. FIFA reports that costs of hosting the event will be higher than the current one in Russia because of the increased number of matches, and that they expect over $2 billion revenue from the 2026 tournament which will be supported by strong hospitality sales and an expanded global TV audience. FIFA World Cups have four main revenue streams – media, marketing, ticketing, and hospitality.

The bids were judged on three measures of compliance assessment (submission of all documents such as agreements with host cities, stadiums, training sites, and airports), risk assessment (cost and revenue projection, and human rights impacts) and a technical evaluation  of infrastructural and commercial components (stadiums team & referee facilities,  accommodation, medical care, and transport).  FIFA also considered all the host city populations, altitude, time zones, and temperature and humidity in July when the tournament would be played.  Also, FIFA notes that only small proportion of soccer fans have an opportunity to attend a World Cup in person, with the vast majority following on TV – so an important measure is now for host countries to demonstrate capabilities and plans for first-class information technology, telecommunications, and an international broadcast center.

USA: 23 cities were included in the original US bid, and 16 will be used. The US benefited from having existing infrastructure, with all the stadiums proposed by the Canadian Soccer Association, Mexican Football Association, and the United States Soccer Federation already fully built and ready. The FIFA evaluation found that transport systems were excellent, but dependent on air transport, except on the U.S. East Coast where road and rail were also realistic options. Overall, transport was judged “fair to good” in 11 cities, but the infrastructure for transporting large crowds to and from stadiums was insufficient in 5 others. In the US bid, 11 of the proposed 23 stadiums have artificial turf, but they had committed to having natural grass for the tournament. All the cities  have enough accommodation for both organizers and players, but are limited in “in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Mexico City due to a relative shortage of top-tier hotels in the vicinity of those cities’ stadiums.” FIFA estimates it would cost them $1.92 billion to host the tournament in the US. 

Morocco: The bid to host the 2026 tournament was tied to an ongoing government plan to use sports to drive national unity and cohesion and would play a key role in accelerating the country’s economic development and that this would extend to non-sports infrastructure.  All guarantees and hosting agreements were submitted and compliance and in accordance with the FIFA template and the Morocco government gave undertakings that all 12 cities would have stadium infrastructure and sufficient accommodation for the towns. They also guaranteed that 13,838 rooms in university residences would be converted to 3 and 4-star hotels by investing $20,000 to $20,000 per room for conversion. Accommodation would also extend to cruise ships berthed in Morocco.

Morocco proposed 12 host cities with two stadiums each in Marrakesh and Casablanca. Casablanca would serve as the main airport, with Marrakesh as the second, and there would be ten airports available for international access with and connectivity Morocco’s proximity to Europe and the country’s ability to handle huge numbers of tourists during the peak summer season shows its capability to cope – such as the Tangier Med Port which has traffic levels of 3 million visitors in 2017.  There was also high-speed rail transport between Tangier area with Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakesh, there are 18 trains per day between Casablanca and Fez and they also proposed a new rail line between Marrakesh and Agadir that would be completed by 2025.

Morocco proposed World Cup venues

But FIFA judged that of the 14 stadiums proposed by the Morocco 2026 bid, nine are still to be built. Also for Morocco only 2 (Agadir and Grand Stade de Marrakech) of the 14 stadiums have accommodation that meets or exceed the minimum requirements for general accommodation, and FIFA’s formula is 5, 4, and 3-star hotels located within a two-hour drive to the venues. They also knock off 20% of the top capacity number to get a realistic measure of the rooms

FIFA also found that hosting the tournament would place a lot of pressure on Casablanca airport to act as the main international gateway and hub for domestic flights .. between them, Casablanca and Marrakesh airports are forecast to handle a total of around 24 million passengers (15 million and 9 million respectively) per year by 2026. The other airports are expected to handle another 13-15 million passengers between them, bringing the total to around 40 million. These numbers alone are below the threshold of 60 million .. and would not meet FIFA’s minimum requirements..  While Morocco has announced 25 new bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and various new tramways, it was not clear (to FIFA) if they would be ready by 2026 (FIFA: Out of the 14 stadiums proposed, only seven (the Casablanca Stadium, Agadir, El Jadida, Oujda, Rabat, Tangier and Tétouan) would appear to have clear and viable transport concepts and accessibility options)

Morocco was projected to raise $690 million from tickets and $380 million from hospitality and the report estimates that organizing the World Cup contest in Morocco would cost FIFA $1.82 billion mainly comprising payments for commercial (including TV operations), administration, services (including IT) and team services.

Summary: Morocco is in the 2018 World Cup, unlike the USA. While the world is polarized now,   there have been a few comments endorsing the American win, with the assurance that, in 2026, President Donald Trump will not be in office, even if he wins re-election in two years time. But with the 2022 tournament set for Qatar, it would be a tall challenge to have the 2026 tournament in the immediate vicinity, and though Morocco is on a different continent than Qatar (the report cites a FIFA rule that continents where tournament are being staged i.e Europe (Russia) and Asia (Qatar) were not eligible to bid  for hosting, Morocco’s geographical proximity and similar circumstances to Qatar were probably swaying qualitative factors in the final decision.

Also see this old guide to Casablanca, Morocco.

Sports Betting Comes of Age in Kenya

Sports betting used to be done at the Ngong horse races, and in a few casinos around Nairobi that have red carpet entrances. Now you don’t have to visit the casinos to place bets, as the mobile phone has become enables this.

Sports Betting in KenyaEvery day, the sports pages of the newspapers have about four (4) color half-page advertisements by different mobile sports platforms, enticing fans to bet on various matches, usually the English premier League. That’s a serious investment, and some are probably already making it back from the sport-betting public. The companies all have busy social media accounts, sign up via SMS, and mobile money payment options – mainly Mpesa.
Here are the main ones making a splash now (in no particular order):
Twitter: @betyetu
Phone: SMS amount to 29111
Payments: mpesa paybill 850704
The new arrival has media personalities Julie Gichuru and Carol Radull as promoters and had the (under-performing) sport cabinet Secretary, Dr. Hassan Wario, as the chief guest at their official launch this month. Bills that you can bet on 277 different leagues, including Australia, Belgium, English (BPL),  Scottish etc. using their platform.
Twitter:  @MchezaKE #chezanamcheza
Phone: SMS cheza 29888
Payment: Mpesa top up 295525
Bills that they are the official sponsor of West Ham United, you can bet on the BPL and Italian leagues, and that they have a Kshs 9 million (~$90,000) jackpot
Twitter: @betway_ke #betwayinkenya
Phone: SMS fixtures to 29029
Payment: lipa na mpesa 880185
Bills that they have a Kshs 10 million jackpot and that they have Kenya’s best betting service. I get their email alerts even though I’m not signed on any league and it’s interesting that you can bet on many diverse events such as rugby and American Football, tennis, and, even politics like who will be the new US president in 2016 Sports Betting in Kenya 2
Twitter: @betinkenya
Phone: SMS join 29456
Payments: paybill 997270
Bill that they are Africa’s number one sports betting platform and official sponsor of the SportPesa premier league in Kenya. Also that they have a Kshs 18.5 million ($185,000) bonus and one can bet on the BPL, Euro, Middle East, and other leagues.

Twitter: @sportpesa

Phone: SMS game 79079 (Kshs 2 per SMS)
Payment: Mpesa paybill, airtel money, orange money
It’s amazing that even in faraway places, in rural Kenya, you find young men who are on the platforms. They may not even be able to watch the matches but can bet on them – even in places where it costs kshs 20 – 50 to watch an afternoon’s worth of English Premier League matches. If there are simultaneous matches, the kiosk owners change the channels to the different matches every few minutes to keep up with the action.

Succession Talk

There has been a lot about succession in the news today:

  • Legendary investor Warren Buffet outlined his succession plan for his company and shareholders.
  • Also, legendary World Cup match predictor, Paul the octopus (and beloved by gamblers anonymous), died in his sleep in Germany, without leaving a successor.
  • NIC Bank held a succession planning clinic for its customers and entrepreneurs
  • This is also the week in which retiring Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph is being feted every other day somewhere in Nairobi while his successor Bob Collymore waits in the wings.
  • And at Equity Bank, CEO James Mwangi finally addressed and put to rest the matter of his succession. Announcing the banks Q3 results (with group asset of Kshs 136 billion ($1.6 billion) and profits of Kshs 6.4 billion ($80 million), he was asked about a long-standing issue with some with investors and shareholders – ‘what would happen to the bank if something happened to him?’

His answer? Profit would go up because he’s currently highly paid, and his style over 18 years has changed to one who takes less risks! On a serious note, he pointed out to several of the bank’s current managers who had more experience and knowledge than he did (but he is better than selling himself), and would form a pool from which the Board could pick out a successor. Some of the people he pointed out, and who may succeed him, include Gerald Warui (his principal deputy), Mbaabu Muchiri (ex-Coca Cola and Central Bank who reduced housing bad loans), Michael Wachira (ex-Fortis), Allan Waititu (brought Finacle to the bank & automation and is now in charge of new projects), Samuel Makome (ex-Citibank), Bildad Fwama (ex Citibank, British American), and Mary Wamae (who negotiated the first ever conversion of the Kenyan build society to a bank, the Helios deal, and regional investments in Uganda, Sudan, and currently in Rwanda and Tanzania which are aimed to open in Q1 of 2011)

He also noted that with his busy activities outside the bank at (Vision 2030, Advisor to UN & World Economic Program), he has delegated a lot to the point that he is not a signatory at the bank and does not sit on any of the seven board committees.

Kenya Easter Tourism Expo 2010

Past Easter expos: 2007, 2008

This year’s edition of the Kenya Tourism Board Easter 2010 Holiday Expo was held at the Sarit Center last weekend. Some of the notable offers were

Nairobi: KWS has self catering guest houses in most of the national parks and mountains areas. They also offer shuttle services to the Nairobi National Park from downtown Nairobi on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays (9.a.m and 2 p.m.) at a cost of 500/= (~$6.5) for adults and 200 for children

Country-wide: Heritage have full board and family adventure packages at their three Mara properties, (Siana, Intrepid and Explorer), three coast properties (Voyager Ziwani, Voyager beach resort, Kipungani -Lamu), as well as Samburu intrepid, and Great Rift lodge (Naivasha)

Ashnil Hotel has Aruba Lodge (located next to a man made dam inside Tsavo Park) at a cost of 6,000 ($80). They also have a new controversial camp inside the Masai Mara, but recently lost their 200 million shilling ($2.5 million) tented camp in Samburu in a matter of hours after heavy rain and flooding last month. Another property in the Samburu managed by Atua Enkop Africa got insurance compensation after flooding. Also not nature related but a looming disaster, the Bogoris Spa Resort and other hotels around Lake Bogoria must be wondering what will come after the recent Endorois court award that may affect their land holdings.

Also in the Central Rift there is also Lake Nakuru Lodge single in April to June is 8,000 while its 11,000 in high season from July to march, sunbird lodge at lake Elementaita at 5,200 full board from April to June, Kigio with Kigio Wildlife Camp and Malewa Wildlife Lodge

In Western Kenya, there’s a new entrant from Kakamega – Mago – an income generating venture of the Mago youth polytechnic in Kakamega with prices of 2,500 half board for residents missionaries and volunteers.

Kenya Coast: New North Coast Beach Hotelwon a prize for best stand the expo. They are trying to establish themselves with low introductory rates e.g. single half board is 5,800 ($75) and 6,500 full board up to December 2010 (except Christmas fortnight)
Mombasa continental has a flying package from Nairobi 22,750 ($295) per person for 2 nights half board up to July 2010, while singles normally pay 6,500 in the low season (April to June)
– Leisure Lodge Leisure Lodge, site of the Kenya ICT Board
connected government workshop has single rooms at 6,900 8,855 and 10,960 for Easter week.

East African Tanzania had Kempinski (Dar $130, Zanzibar $170, Serengeti $200 and Blue Bay), Plan Hotel (mapenzi beach camp special $333 and Neptune pwani beach $234) Hotels & lodges Tanzania (private island Zanzibar $264), Lamela Camp (Ngorongoro and Serengeti) and Gibbs Farm (Ngorongoro and Manyara)

Uganda had Lake Victoria Serena – opened in September 2009 with 2 nights flying on Air Uganda at $590 per person, Peal of Africa (tours of Bujagali falls) and ATV Safaris (ATV/quad bike safaris at lake Mburo)

otherSports: surprisingly did not see any world cup related travel opportunities to South Africa in June/July 2010 – a missed opportunity?
Kuoni have a package for golfers for $1,185 comprising 6 days of Golf at Windsor, Karen, Muthaiga and the Great Rift Courses, with the option of an extra trip to Masai Mara for ballooning
Wildflower have the Wildman Triathlon 24 -25 April 2010 at Turtle Bay Resort (Watamu)

Wedding: Serena Hotels had a beach wedding package for $1,380 per couple with 2 nights half board VIP stay, marriage license & certificate, wedding cake, champagne breakfast, wedding gift, bride manicure/pedicure, and guest of the couple enjoy 10% off.

Twitter Week: January 7

Here’s a summary of my week on Twitter in a top 5 format covering traffic and restaurant woes

5. Raring for the World Cup in South Africa: – ESPN to broadcast 2010 world cup in 3D http (via Business pundit)
– Thinking of driving to world cup in SA? AA of Kenya offer (i) car passport (ii) international driver license (iii) COMESA insurance; r/t @bugzville58 good idea you should though Kampala bus is also offering a trip for about 800 dollars one way.

4. Traffic in Nairobi was Good and then Bad: – Nairobi should remain like this: no traffic, or queues and faster bandwidth. Lets close Thika & Nakuru roads and #devolve the rest to shags

– Back to 5 day week and a matatu strike in Kenya to kick off 2010; ying yang: Nairobi public transit strike means booming business for taxis (good luck getting one this evening); r/t @tmsruge I was in the CBD today. All streets were a parking lot. No point taking either as you won’t get anywhere. #footing works best! ; Roads not so bad out of town 30min stationary then 10 min cruise home #matatustrike
– R/t @MoSande KE Matatus call off nationwide strike after PM promises to address their grievances. Normal service to resume immediately
– @inexes and i hear someone may be ending Mombasa vacation this evening #nairobitraffic; @karuoro someone just flew in from Mombasa holiday

3. Odds and ends: – From Nairobi Star: statehouse complains about Lucy worst dressed rank, while Atwoli is scandalized–says his peers in 150 wool class are Moi & Kirubi
– The Tamarind Group has taken over the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden Restaurant, which is renamed Tamambo KBCG
– Repeat of ‘House of cards’ showing on CNBC Africa. Documentary should be done on Nairobi or Nigeria shares bull run and bust
– Books first have buy pizza in happy hour, get one free. But also charge Kshs. 100 for take away pizza cartons – why?

2. Safaricom mandatory SIM registration, and costly 3G: – Via @kahenya solutions to improving mobile competition in #Kenya, and break #Safaricom domination of #3G
– via @kainvestor #Safaricom forcing new users to register their sim cards, which can’t be activated unless registered with an ID ->safcom=Gok r/t @LarryMadowo Its now a legal requirement for ALL SIM card holders to be registered & #Safaricom move is only the 1st step but @LarryMadowo @kainvestor Safaricom already has 1/2 their subscriber details from m-pesa accounts
– Can’t find a reliable #zain #zap money transfer agent in Kenya? Try the local post office or #posta (via #introverted blog post)
– Consumers getting unhappy about #Safaricom #internet bundle costs but they rarely leave @archermishale the word is out, be careful how you use expensive Safaricom data bundles – are they billing on supa ongea tariff?

1 It’s 2010: Happy New Year: Against sound advice, went out and got served a crap lunch. Remember waiters & kitchen staff are working, not celebrating the holidays
– Best food prayer I’ve heard ‘. . Also for the wonderful meal, bless the pockets that may have been depleted by it’
– Looking at the @KenyaBuzz year end calendar – Pole Dancing Competition at Tembo Disco Mombasa