Now that the World Cup is over and Spain has been crowned champion for the first time the time is right for a little reflection on the event that has spanned the past 4 weeks. My soccer experience consists of playing junior varsity soccer (not all that well) and coaching my children’s soccer teams until they became good enough to exceed anything I could teach them. However, I have a number of observations regarding this year’s World Cup so here goes:
1) Watching it together. There are few events in which people from across the planet watch the same thing at the same time. The Olympics come to mind and Americans might think the Super Bowl is up there but in my view there is nothing that comes close to the World Cup in terms of exhibiting a country’s passion. Is there any other sporting event that has fans of one country rooting hard for or against a country other than their own?
2) Kudos to South Africa. South Africa achieved nearly everything it hoped for short of winning a game or two. Hosting the World Cup is a monumental task and all indications are that the South Africans set the bar extremely high. Keep that in mind Brazil (where the next World Cup is in 2016)
3) Soccer comes of age in the U.S. My guess is that many more Americans watched (and talked about) the World Cup this year than ever before. Landon Donovan’s goal in extra time to push the U.S. past Algeria may be seen as a watershed occurrence for American soccer (or football as the rest of the world calls it).
4) Timing means a lot. Having games televised at 10:30 in the morning and 2:30 in the afternoon on the east coast of the U.S. (not so bad in California at 7:30AM and 11:30AM) created a positive buzz around the office – at times it almost felt as if people were having fun at work – that’s a good thing folks! As the 2016 cup is to be held in Rio (one hour ahead of east Coast time), North America will get games in both the afternoon and prime time while Europe will stay up a later and Asia – well they will be the bleary eyed ones. People will watch, oh yes people will most definitely watch.
5) Advertising: The running time of a World Cup game makes it more eminently watchable than most other sporting events. No television (or radio for that matter) ads for 45+ minutes. The changing ads behind and around the field were not at all intrusive and I think very food for the brands that chose to participate.
Sure the officiating was at times deplorable, (ok much of the time) and Uruguay’s Luis Sanchez match-saving handball will live infamy, but the thing the strikes me the most is the collective excitement and pleasure and goodwill created by the World Cup event. I eagerly await the 2016 World Cup.
Did you get into the World Cup this year?