Its finally here, the world has waited four years for the latest iteration of FIFAs premier event and fans across the globe have been preparing for this festival of football. The global sporting carnival that underpins how sport can bring people together, can calm conflict, and can resolve differences has kicked off in Qatar and the world is excited……...or is it?
There is no doubt that first world cup to be hosted by an Arab nation has been contentious, and although every part of the globe deserves the opportunity bring football to their home, cultural, moral, and social differences have a created a world cup that has divided opinion.
The worlds eyes are on Qatar, and hopefully it will be the football that divides opinion, proves contentious and creates conversation. Ultimately with each passing four-year period that marks the hiatus in any meaningful international football competition, technology explodes, and the football eco-system opens itself up more to the scrutiny of the fans. Every game has become a goldfish bowl not only viewed by those in the stadium, but by the millions across the world that benefit from the robust broadcast infrastructure associated with the world cup. Whether is Abu Dhabi or Zambia fans will be gathered around television sets for 90 minutes as drama worthy of soap opera status unfolds.
Technology however has impacted the game on a multitude of levels, and its not only national broadcasters that share the drama, in many instances mini and micro drama unfolds on the mobile networks across the globe as world cup content is captured shared and disseminated on handheld devices. Whether someone is in the stadium as a penalty is taken or in a bar drinking a beer as a foul is committed the content is captured and shared via SMS in seconds. Children in schools and parents in the workplace will be sharing memes, videos and images of world cup content, controversy, and elation in real time and in many cases quicker than the official broadcasters. Often the content is voyeuristic and third person, in so much as we may watch people watching the world cup, we may scrutinize referee decisions as opposed to a footballers technical ability but all the while we share, and we share with the world.
On the pitch technology has evolved too, smaller shin pads, lighter boots, temperature regulating kit all creating a product that is imminently more engaging than it was four years prior, but not as engaging as the 2026 World Cup. VAR and goal line technology, on pitch monitors, referees wearing microphones, and a plethora of cameras have created an immersive football experience and this in turn has created millions of armchair experts now well armed with content that creates and stimulates debate, football debate.
The wonderful thing about the world cup is its lack of predictability. Smaller nations defeat football giants, average players become super stars and passive football observers become passionate patriotic monsters. Mums halt the dinner making, smart kids avoid homework, and Spurs fans support Arsenal players, so is the power of the world cup. Its a fascinating event with immense commercial value and global appeal but at its core we are watching a game of football and we shouldnt lose sight of that fact.
The world has had 12 years to vent opinion on the 2022 world cup hosts, and in that 12 years children dreaming dreams of playing at the highest level have become men representing their countries. Hard work, endeavor, desire and passion have culminated in 11 men on the pitch or in a goldfish bowl reaching the pinnacle of their careers and as fans we should support them for the joy they bring us, the content they create for us and the beauty that is the world cup of soccer!