What happens every four years and has millions of people in an uproar? No, it’s not a leap year. It’s the FIFA World Cup. Although soccer is still not as popular in the U.S. as Baseball or Football; its global impact during the world cup is one that surpasses any other sport in the world. One may ask why that is, well, here it is.
Soccer, or as what any other nation calls it, football is the link between nations. It can be played anywhere, anytime, and with any round kickable object. It can also be played by anyone; rich, poor, black, white, brown, or purple. Another great thing about soccer is the basic rules are simple, and you need very little equipment, making it ideal for people with little access to sporting goods or a park to play in.
Also, soccer is not just a fun sport to play, it is a great sport to watch. Whether someone is a soccer fan or not, it is important to appreciate the endurance needed for the sport, athletes must be in peak shape to be able to run across a field that can be up to the size of 130×100 yards. And the ability the players have to aim the ball and score is impeccable.
Soccer has such a global impact that according to TIME magazine 715.1 million people watched the World Cup, that’s almost 610 million more than the number of people who watched the Super Bowl. Another great thing about soccer is that the fans appreciate the skill of every player, although almost every person cheers for the country they are descendants of, even if someone is from France, they can’t help but admire the skill of Cristiano Ronaldo, of Portugal.
Along with the appreciation of skill, the FIFA World Cup also brings about a new sense of patriotism that viewers may not usually have. During the end of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa this past July, I had the rare opportunity of spending time in Tanzania. Although Tanzania was not eligible for the World Cup, everyone in the country was cheering vigorously for Ghana, the highly unexpected winning machine that almost won the title of world champion. Every little store or house that had a TV was completely packed with people watching the games, they were excited for a fellow African Nation.
Sights like this were not only in Africa though; sports bars and homes with big screens alike were crowded the entire month of game play all over the world. And the amount of people watching the final on July 11th could have been enough to shut down an entire country because of the lack of work done that day.
The past two host countries of the World Cup have also had negative histories, but bringing the FIFA World Cup has given both the opportunity to reverse that. In 2006, the World Cup was hosted by Germany, which the biggest publicity that country has had is of course the Holocaust and WWII. South Africa was the host for 2010, and of course, the only thing most people associate South Africa with is Apartheid, violent crime, and HIV/AIDS. The FIFA World Cup gave South Africa the opportunity to show that they are not a lost cause.
The global impact of the FIFA World Cup is one that is unsurpassable by any other sport and will continue to grow throughout the decades.