Nation-branding Opportunities Through Sport Mega-events: Tourism Impact from FIFA World Cup in South Africa 2010 and Qatar 2022


  • Brendon Knott Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Kamilla Swart Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar
  • Othman Althawadi Qatar University
  • Yara Zeyad Ali Qatar University



South Africa, Destination Image, Events


Sport mega-events can be powerful agents in the imaging, re-imaging and branding of places, especially for emerging mega-event host nations. South Africa was the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and is a good case of how nation-branding opportunities were leveraged to showcase its global engagement, re-emergence post-apartheid, and its competence as a tourism and mega-event host. Similarly, Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is a region-first for the Middle East. Hosting the World Cup is aligned to Qatar’s strategic leveraging of sport to build a new image, acquire global recognition as a world-class venue for major events, sport sponsorships, and state-of-the-art stadiums. Yet Qatar, like South Africa, was confronted with significant detractors and negative media coverage in the lead-up to its hosting. This paper compares nation-brand perceptions collected from international visitors to the respective mega-events. The studies aimed to identify any changes to these brand perceptions because of their visit to these nations. It utilises the same instrument and method; with the survey instrument for 2010 adapted for Qatar to increase its relevance. A total of 561 (South Africa) and 421 (Qatar) international visitors were interviewed at event and tourist locations, using a spatially based, purposive sampling approach. The findings reveal how visitor perceptions changed in both instances. It reveals nuances in profiling mega-event sport tourists and contrasts expected nation-branding legacies for host nations, especially in emerging nation contexts.