Creating a legacy: understanding multi-city major sport events

Few major sport events captured global audiences like the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Dr Jordan Bakhsh aims to discover what we can learn from this multi-city event to help organise future mega-events.

Mega-events have grown in size and scale, leading to increased event costs and greater risk of negative social impacts on communities.

This has created strong resistance to mega-events hosting – think the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, which was abandoned in 2023 by the State Government because of ballooning costs.

To combat these growing concerns, organisations such as the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and FIFA (Federation of International Football Association) have created new hosting opportunities – namely co-hosting or multi-city hosting. It’s a strategy that is increasingly being embraced (2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup), but it is still largely untested.

Dr Jordan Bakhsh is examining the ‘legacy management’ of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – a mega- event that was hosted across multiple venues in Australia and New Zealand.

Supported by an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Dr Bakhsh will:

  • Conduct a total of 4000 surveys of people living in the five Australian host cities to explore the positive and negative social impacts of the mega-event on host city residents;
  • Interview key representatives of Football Australia and New Zealand Foodball about their strategic relationship for the duration of the event and beyond; and
  • Canvass the views of Football Australia, state level football organisations and community/local football organisations to explore Football Australia’s Legacy ’23 strategy and the potential to leverage the mega-event into state and community level football/soccer.

In addition, this event presents an opportunity to focus on women’s mega-events. Up until now, most research has been isolated to male-centric or mixed events.

“There’s a strong need to understand how a women’s mega-event can impact on society, especially as we are seeing more of these types of events around the world,” Dr Bakhsh said.

With a growing number of national and international events on the sporting calendar, Dr Bakhsh says it’s important to understand how mega-event organising impacts on Australians and how organising strategies can be advanced to generate positive legacies more effectively.

“Billions of public dollars are being invested in hosting mega-events on the assumption that they will create greater social benefits for communities, but we don’t yet have a full understanding of the impacts,” he said.

Dr Bakhsh plans to use his findings to develop:

  • A co-hosting framework to provide event organisations and future stakeholders with knowledge on how to effectively garner positive social impacts through co-hosting mega-events; and
  • A mega-event leveraging framework to assist governments, organisations, and communities in leveraging the positive benefits of mega-events to state and local communities.