World Cup 2018
By Coach Brogan
With the World Cup fast approaching this Summer I wanted to talk about why it is the biggest sport and competition in the world. Bold statement I know, especially while I write this in the United States of America where it is called Soccer but whether it is called Soccer, Football, Futebol we all love the sport and want to witness some magic this summer from the teams involved. That being said this year, unfortunately, the USA did not make the World Cup in Russia for the first time since 1986. Last time I bring that up, promise. But hey I can hardly talk – my beautiful country Scotland has yet to make a World Cup appearance since their last one in 1998.
To give you a sense of just how huge, we visualized a comparison of viewership, looking at how many people watched the Super Bowl in 2014 compared with the number of viewers of the final match of the last World Cup again in 2014. If you had any doubt about the popularity of soccer in the rest of the world here are the figures that might take you hugely by surprise.
(Keep in mind the USA population is 325 million)
- Fans across the world that watched the Superbowl in 2014: 115.5 million viewers for the FULL game …
- Whereas the amount of people who watched the FIRST MINUTE of the world cup followed by watching the full game was 909.6 million viewers.
Eight Groups, thirty-two teams and one Winner at the end of this tournament. Running from June 14th to the final being played on July 15th. Heartbreak for teams that do not make it out of the group stages and had the pressure and big names of their team to go all the way. Even more highs and lows of emotions for teams that get into the knockout stages who are minutes away from a World Cup Final and lose the game.
This competition not only brings countries together to support their team but also brings families, for example in the United States who did not make the World Cup but who have ancestors with different backgrounds and they are now following that team in the tournament.
The use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) is one of the most polarizing issues in modern football. The technology has been rolled out in Italy, Spain and the USA, among other countries, each to varying degrees of success, but now it will be used on the biggest stage of all: the World Cup. I personally do not agree with using VAR as I think it slows down the game; it ruins the atmosphere in the stadium while the crowd is waiting on a referee watching a small television to make a decision about a call where he should be confident and willing to make it himself with the help of his assistant referees. Yes referees make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes but we have watched the sport for so many years without it and now there will be extra stoppages for decision making from the referees and his assistants and I am not too keen on the idea.
With Russia being the hosts of the tournament they kick us off on June 14th against Saudi Arabia. Favorites have already been picked for this 2018 World Cup. Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, Portugal and Brazil seem to be the top contenders this year. Germany of course were the winners in the 2014 World Cup. Like any other tournament, there is going to be an upset that happens. A team that everyone writes off and thinks they will not even make it into the knockout stages has a brilliant start and keeps that run going to beat all odds and makes it to the quarter or sometimes further.
When I was watching March Madness I became apparent to the use of the term Cinderella story. Well if you take Iceland the smallest nation ever to qualify with a population of 338,349 for this year’s World Cup they are the Cinderella story of this tournament before it has even kicked off. Remember they stopped England from reaching the knockout stages in the European championships in 2016…
The best players in the world will be on show in arguably the biggest stage to perform well for their country. The pressure that this brings alone is unbelievable. The emotions you see running through these players when their national anthem is getting played is incredible. They have trained four years for this as well, as all competitions with their club teams lead up to the biggest tournament for their international team.
Now it is time to get ready, relax and enjoy the beautiful game.