With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar just around the corner, fans worldwide are starting to get excited about finally getting to see their national team performing on the biggest stage. With 32 teams competing for the most prestigious award in world soccer, for a few short days, every team will fancy their chances of having a successful tournament.
Despite the 2022 World Cup being held in winter rather than its usual summer spot, it’s almost time for fans to put aside any misgivings and just focus on the fantastic soccer that’s sure to be on display.
Every four years, fans come together for one of the sport’s most amazing attractions, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Despite being held every four years since 1930 (apart from 1942 and 1946 due to WW2,) only eight teams have ever won the World Cup, which shatters the illusion somewhat that any team could win the trophy.
Given that soccer is played almost all year round, why is the World Cup greeted with such incredible anticipation?
Let’s have a look at seven reasons why the FIFA World Cup is so popular
1. The World’s Elite Players Are On Show
From Angola to America, it doesn’t matter where you’re from; fans want to watch the best players battling it out on the soccer pitch.
The team you support on a Saturday might be a lower-league team, but when it comes to international soccer, you’re getting the cream of the crop.
The biggest countries, with the best players in the world, turn up for World Cups, dreaming of lifting the trophy. It’s one of the many reasons the World Cup is so popular; regardless of what league you follow, this competition draws the players together.
Most of the World Cup participants hail from the biggest leagues: the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, the Serie A in Italy, and Ligue 1 in France. Fans from each nation finally get to see the players they can’t see every week, it’s a rare opportunity.
In one World Cup game, Lionel Messi could line up against PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe; in another, Harry Kane of England can line up against Weston McKennie of the USA and Juventus.
The best players in the greatest tournament, all vying for the biggest prize in soccer; it’s what makes a World Cup so unique.
2. Global Coverage Of Every Game
With a global fanbase comes global coverage; it’s as much about the money as it is to allow fans from all corners of the planet to watch the biggest tournament in soccer. TV stations, newspapers, radio, and the internet, the World Cup is everywhere for a solid month.
Office sweepstakes, where people pick their team out of a hat, has people who have never followed soccer in their life, desperately hoping that Australia can make it to the final.
Pundits pull apart every performance, and the fans set to see every kick, every goal, and every second of the World Cup as it unfolds.
As the tournament progresses, those remaining teams begin to look ahead to the final, each game is watched by millions of fans worldwide, and reputations are made and broken in the course of a game.
Soccer is the most popular sport on earth, and FIFA estimates around 5 billion people will tune in throughout the tournament.
It’s the chance of a lifetime for players, and the opportunity for TV to make countless millions in revenue. Sponsorships, tv rights, advertisements; the World Cup is like having the Superbowl every day, for a month.
3. Scarcity – World Cups Are Only Held Every Four Years
One of the more significant pulling points of the World Cup is its scarcity; the World Cup is held only every four years, making it a must-see for fans everywhere.
Players are terrified of being injured before a World Cup, as all their hard work and preparation can be undone in a heartbeat.
It’s rare for a player to be at his peak for more than two tournaments, so missing a World Cup is a blow that’s hard to undo.
Fans desperate for tickets can have the experience of a lifetime; there’s nothing quite like actually going to a World Cup, the atmosphere is electric, and the party goes on all day.
Fans who usually don’t get to mix suddenly find a shared love of soccer, bonding over a game they love.
No domestic league has the opportunity to have fans of Mexico mixing with Welsh soccer fans; Americans find themselves in the same hotel as the Italian fans, and it’s truly spectacular in part because it only happens every four years.
4. The World Cup Is History In The Making
With only eight teams having ever won the World Cup, it’s not easy to become a part of the club. But that won’t stop nations from trying, and now and again a team surprises everyone by making a run for the trophy. Home nations are often buoyed by local support and find extra gears to do well.
Fans of each nation know their history, they know the great World Cups, and they remember the bad ones.
A World Cup is never forgotten; it becomes part of the fabric of a nation’s soccer identity; Brazilians still have nightmares about losing the 1950 World Cup to Uruguay, and that was 72 years ago! Even something as simple as a goal, or a great save, becomes part of the myth and history.
Roberto Baggio’s miss in the USA World Cup in 1994 is as much a part of the tournament as anything else; it’s iconic, heartbreaking, and completely human.
Fans of soccer only need to close their eyes to see the greatest Italian player of all time, head bowed, as Italy was defeated on penalties by Brazil.
It’s just another example of why the World Cup is so popular, fans daren’t miss a thing, just in case this game could be the most fantastic game of all time. Players lie through their teeth to get picked for their country; injured or not, they say they’re fit to go.
The players want to be a part of history and be on the World Cup 2022 documentary that will be shown for the next 60 years. And it’s a valid point; recent World Cups are still shown regularly on television, and the great goals are still discussed, sometimes decades after they’ve taken place.
5. World Cups Generate Interest In The Sport
One of the biggest pluses of a World Cup is the new fans and players that it brings to the sport. It’s a self-perpetuating story; suddenly, soccer is everywhere, with people who might never have watched a match before suddenly caught up in the excitement.
Bars, fan clubs, and even schools start putting on the World Cup game if their nation is involved.
Young fans suddenly get their first taste of what a World Cup feels like, and it can often lead to the next generation of superstar players.
Many current World Cup players cite seeing a World Cup for the first time as their reason for getting into soccer. Older fans, who had never shown an interest in the sport, also find themselves glued to the TV, cheering their nation on.
Sometimes, if a nation doesn’t qualify for a World Cup, fans will pick a substitute team and follow their progress. The interest in the sport, the widening of viewership, and even the interaction between fans of different cultures all generate interest in the World Cup and soccer as a whole.
Controversy in a World Cup is a given; one nation or player always seems to get caught red-handed. A David Beckham petulant kick in the 1998 World Cup, where for months afterward, the English fans and press were baying for the England midfielder’s head, almost ruined the player’s career.
During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Luis Suarez of Uruguay handballed on his own goalline in the game’s dying seconds to deny Ghana a semi-final place.
A deserved red card followed, but a penalty miss for Ghana would see them lose out to Uruguay on penalties after extra time. World Cups and controversy go together perfectly.
6. World Cups Bring Fans Together
No tournament brings soccer fans together quite like a World Cup; it’s one of the most unifying experiences you can find in the soccer world.
Regardless of race, background, wealth, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, soccer has the ability to bring people together that’s unheard of in nearly every other walk of life.
And it’s not a new phenomenon, just looking back at past World Cup tournaments, you can see fans coming together to enjoy the sport they love.
For a month, fans will travel far and wide to see their national teams and often end up in stadiums watching other nations’ games too. Mingling during the match, fans spill out into the streets and party; only the World Cup has this effect.
Sure, there are always a few who turn up to try and ruin things, hooliganism was rife during the 1970s and 1980s, especially in England, but overall the fans at a World Cup spent time together, cultures and ideals put aside simply because of a soccer game.
7. National Rivalries
National soccer rivalries are fiercely contested affairs, often simmered for decades, usually having nothing to do with soccer.
While fans will mingle freely throughout the World Cup, there are always exceptions to the rule. It’s not a bad thing; soccer is a tribal sport; you follow your home team, and you hate your local rivals.
Why should international soccer be any different? England and Scotland have a fierce rivalry on the soccer field, and the passion in games between these two old rivals is a sight to behold.
It’s an old score, but it’s not unusual; Mexico versus the United States is another prime example of a heated soccer rivalry.
It’s as much to do with the two countries’ history together; proximity helps old wrongs and past slights that fans love to bring up. Perhaps one team thrashed another. Losing badly is hard to forget, so fans don’t forget; they nurse their rivalry and revel in beating each other on the soccer pitch.
Brazil and Argentina? Spain versus Portugal? Germany Vs. England, the list goes on. It’s one of the most incredible things in soccer. You secretly want to be drawn against the old enemy but equally want to avoid them; what if you lose?
Only in a World Cup can these rivalries be borne out; a friendly game isn’t going to be remembered, but a semi-final defeat of a rival nation will go down in soccer history. But beware of what you wish for; just ask Brazilians how their country fared at the 1950 World Cup final.