China counts economic cost of losing W-Cup

BEIJING: China being ditched as host of the women’s World Cup over SARS fears will cost the China FA (CFA) millions of dollars in lost revenue, state press reported yesterday. 

According to the China Football Journal, the CFA stand to lose US$9mil alone in revenue from advertising hoardings surrounding the grounds the World Cup was to be played at. 

With 32 matches scheduled to be played around the country and ticket prices averaging 30 yuan, another US$3mil in sales has gone begging. 

The CFA had already signed contracts with ticket sellers, communication equipment suppliers and souvenir suppliers which have now had to be cancelled. 

FIFA announced on Saturday in Zurich that the tournament to be staged in September would be moved because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic that is raging in China, but have yet to announce a replacement host. 

It is the highest profile event to be cancelled so far since the Chinese government admitted covering up the extent of the outbreak on April 20. 

The China Football Journal also said there were plenty of indirect economic losses, citing the stadium built in Wuhan especially for the tournament which will now not be used. 

“Now all these efforts are wasted,” the paper said. 

“Some losses cannot be measured in terms of money. Each city hosting matches had improved infrastructure at considerable cost.” 

Despite the short-term setback, the country has already been awarded the right to host the 2007 women’s World Cup Finals as a consolation. 

China was eagerly awaiting this year’s event, not only to showcase its booming economy and a growing public interest in the sport, but also in the hopes of winning the World Cup on its own turf. – AFP 

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