Why I Hate And Love The FIFA World Cup

James Preston Reply 8:28 AM
Is this the greatest soccer player of all time?
The FIFA World Cup is by far the greatest sporting spectacle of all. That's not a subjective opinion, that's fact. The numbers speak for themselves. The FIFA World Cup holds all the important records:

- The most amount of people collectively watching throughout the tournament worldwide
- The most amount of people watching a single sporting game worldwide.
- The most amount of tweets sent per minute
- Etc.

You know? The important records that really count.

That's the problem though. They really do count. Numbers mean a whole lot when applied to the context of Capitalism. The more people consuming your product, the more power you have.

That's one of the reasons I hate the World Cup.

How can I hate the World Cup? I don't really know. I am honestly one of the most sport-loving people I know. I have one friend (out of thousands) that I know of who likes sport more than me. But even he doesn't seem to know Soccer as much as I do.

I love sport. A careful inspection of my Twitter feed will tell you that. (I'm trying to curb my sport-tweeting - but for some of us, Twitter is a platform for expression, so when we feel an emotion, we have to express it. At the expense of our Twitter followers. You gotta be real after all.)

This is the first time I've ever said "I hate the World Cup". And obviously that is really just a statement of satire. The word "hate" is used very liberally and subjectively here. It is used for the emphasis of my point.

But here's a few reasons why there is reason for it to resonate...

Why I hate the World Cup:

It gives FIFA way too much power.

Did you know that FIFA has more countries on its membership role than the United Nations? I'll bet FIFA are happy about that. But that is a huge membership!

You'll find that most of the big companies today became so successful because they started where no one else did. No one else was making a delicious soft drink like Coca-Cola. No one else was making well-brewed, decent, fast coffee like Starbucks. No one else was making quick meals as tasty as McDonald's. No one else was utilizing search opportunities on the internet like Google.

These gaps in the market allowed for these companies to establish themselves as the authority, and thereby gain huge early followers, therefore more capital, therefore work better, therefore become more successful.

FIFA is no different. No one else had institutionalised international soccer like FIFA did in 1904. They started to oversee European international soccer. No one else was doing it, so every other nation wanted to join in. Especially after their first international tournament in 1930. By then, it was too late, they had become the international authority.

It all started very innocently. No one foresaw how megalomaniacal they would become.

They are the ones who are allowed to set the rules of how soccer is played. They are the ones who decide whether a player gets suspended or not. Etc.

More sinister than this, they are the ones who get to dictate to nations how to put on a World Cup, how much they will need to spend, and what they are allowed to advertise, even if it infringes on national law. Their money gives them immense power over nations. Too much power in my opinion.

This power is stewarded by only a handful of men. (It doesn't seem like women have much of a voice at the top). An institution of FIFA's size should be a lot more democratic than it is. Alas, it seems far too top heavy for comfort.

If it weren't for the FIFA World Cup, FIFA wouldn't have half the influence and power they do. The fact is, The World Cup is their pinnacle event. Their Mecca. Their Golden Goose.

And while FIFA themselves at an executive level may try and do their work innocently, their systems and channels only breed corruption. Countries will do anything to gain the right to host the World Cup.

When democracy gets sacrificed on the altar of capitalism, you're in trouble.

FIFA's trouble is in need of fixing.

But as a sport lover, I cannot deny that the World Cup is a spectacle worth savoring.

Here's why I love the FIFA World Cup:

Anything can happen amidst its fierce competition.

Its fierce competition is what makes the World Cup so attractive. The more competitive a sport is, the more attractive it is. Anything can happen, anyone can win. (Think of the English Premier League. Any one of 6 teams could realistically win it. On top of this, any one of the other 14 teams can beat those 6. Of those 14 teams, any one of them could finish in the bottom 3 thereby getting relegated.)

Note to sporting officials: It is fierce rivalry and competition that attracts the masses. It is part of our DNA make up. We love competition. We are competitive by nature. We want to see a good contest of ups and downs, losing then winning, fight-backs and knock-downs, shocks and surprises. The FIFA World Cup provides this at the highest stage of all: Internationally. The next step beyond international sport of this competitiveness is war itself.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather be watching sport than war unfolding.

32 nations compete every 4 years to become the greatest in world soccer. Those 32 nations come from a pool of 204 nations who competed 3 years prior. Getting to the World Cup alone is a national achievement and goal.

But as mentioned last week, of those 32 competing nations, any one of about 15 of them could realistically go on to win the Cup. It's not a far cry to say that all 32 teams have a chance.

But think about that... 15 nations! That's a huge pool of potential winners.

When Usain Bolt lines up, there is no competition. You know who is going to win. And we watch him for him. Not because someone might beat him.

(Note: I have just realised why Penalty Shootouts are the best way to decide even contests in Soccer. They may well be a lottery, but the fact is the game itself is in many ways a lottery. Its a game of margins, where one lucky strike could be the difference between winning and losing. It is only fair that those tiny margins be emphasised on the penalty spot by no less than 10 different penalty-takers and 2 goal-keepers).

Anyway, back to my point... Many people bemoan soccer, and particularly the World Cup, because there are so few goals. But that's what makes it so exciting! Just one goal, one lucky shot, one mistake, can change the entire game.

Whereas in Rugby, American Football, Cricket, Basketball or Baseball, scores happen often and frequently. Meaning if you concede a score, you have a good chance to get back at the opposition quickly, it doesn't change the game as drastically as a goal in soccer does.

This is what draws us competitive-ones in, sitting on the edge of our seat, knowing that just one goal could be the difference between absolute heartbreak or eternal ecstasy. The emotions are supercharged.

Almost every game from game one to game 64 are like this. And the closer you get to game 64 (the final), the more those emotions are heightened.

It is something else. The country of my birth, England, are out well before the Quarter-Finals most World Cups. But I still can't help but get involved in ensuing games and see who makes it and who doesn't.

There really is nothing quite like it.

It is this very reason that the FIFA World Cup pulls the numbers that it does.

It's a love hate relationship like no other.

We just need good governance to steward this beautiful game and its competition into an equal and fair future.

Here's to Lionel Messi, the most talented soccer player to ever grace this planet, being on the winning side this Sunday!


Do you enjoy Soccer? What are your feelings on the FIFA World Cup? Drop a comment below.

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