The social importance of the World Cup

Sebastian Roar Pro

By Sebastian, Sebastian is a Roar Pro


68 Have your say

    The eyes of the world will be focused on Russia this week as the football World Cup once again takes centre stage.

    32 nations will converge on Russia all dreaming of lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy and returning to their homeland as heroes. The usual nations are once again being tipped to battle it out at the pointy end of the tournament including five times winners Brazil and four times winners Germany.

    Individuals will also be hoping that they can put their best foot forward in helping lead their respective countries to glory. The usual suspects such as Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected to light up the tournament in Russia.

    Young talents in Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Marco Asensio will also be gracing the World Cup for the very first time bringing a youthful exuberance mixed with an innate ability to change a game in an instance.

    Barcelona and France star Ousmane Dembele.

    FC Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    The World Cup though also provides a platform for the unexpected wherein both individuals and countries are able to destabilise the established. This I believe is the true essence of the World Cup wherein football is able to provide an arena for nations big and small to celebrate in the unification of sport.

    Sport has the ability to showcase both the best and worst sides of human nature as demonstrated in the European Championships in France in 2016 where English and Russian fans clashed violently in Marseille.

    The concerns and social unrest in Russia have been a major talking point leading up to the start of the World Cup with ticket requests especially from English fans significantly down in comparison from four years ago in Brazil. Russia has looked to play down any concerns from travelling fans by beefing up security and reassuring fans that Russian Ultras will not be an issue at the tournament.

    These social concerns though represent a microcosm of a wider global society which finds itself at a significant point in history. The rise of right winged political movements throughout Europe as well as the appointment of Donald Trump as the president of the United States showcase a dangerous trend away from an open global society.

    The rise of terrorism and the global financial crisis, which is still being felt across Europe, has once again given rise to the fear of, ‘the other’. The World Cup though provides an event, which is able to cut through these stigmas and celebrate the participation of countries from all five continents.

    Language and cultural differences can be put aside as the symbolism of the singular round ball represents the significant global gathering.

    Football is truly the only world game and now more than ever this ability to unify needs to be brought to the fore. The global community is at a tipping point with Russia being handed the responsibility to not only host a successful and smooth tournament, but one that might just also remind society of the importance of an open and fluid global connectedness.

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    The Crowd Says (68)

    • June 13th 2018 @ 6:48am
      Perry Bridge said | June 13th 2018 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      Hmmm…”Football is truly the only world game and now more than ever this ability to unify needs to be brought to the fore.”

      Berlin 1936…..

      btw – basketball is truly the only world game….too. Discuss.

      Note – just enjoy the games. The FIFA WC never has and won’t deliver peace in our time. It’s a luxury to attend. The top players combined annual income will dwarf many a 3rd world nation (like Australia!!). You either have to take the event at face value or it becomes too depressing to consider how the world has come to this.

      • Roar Guru

        June 13th 2018 @ 1:50pm
        Rick Disnick said | June 13th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        Just accept that football is awesome and move on, Perry.

        You need to learn the meaning of ‘third world nation‘, particularly if you believe Australia is one of them.

        Australia’s GDP for 2017 was roughly 1.6 trillion, surpassing the likes of Spain with nearly twice the population. To put this in perspective, the combined revenue of all the top European leagues (including the EPL) is less than 20 billion.

        I will be nomiating you for the Dummy of the Year award.

        • June 13th 2018 @ 5:19pm
          Perry Bridge said | June 13th 2018 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

          #Rick Disnick

          If you’re going to try to ‘dis’ someone – then don’t do it with a glaring typo ” nomiating you for the Dummy of the Year”.

          Also – learn to identify sarcasm or irony.

          “players combined annual income will dwarf many a 3rd world nation (like Australia!!). ”

          Do you really think I was being serious??

          • Roar Guru

            June 13th 2018 @ 6:13pm
            Rick Disnick said | June 13th 2018 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

            No, you were talking about wealth distribution; particularly football player’s wages relative to third world revenue in some lame attempt to ridicule football and the world we live in. There was no sarcasm intended at all by you, which is why you referenced ‘depressing’ in your last sentence.

            I suggest you get your numbers right next time.

            If you want to lie to save face, that’s your prerogative.

            • June 14th 2018 @ 9:48am
              Perry Bridge said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

              The sarcasm was including Australia as a third world nation…..oh….similar perhaps to Paul Keating’s “Banara republic” comment 30 years ago.

              The wealth distribution is correct – so you picked up on that. A lame attempt to ridicule football and the world we live in. Well – it’s not soccer only. US basketball, and other sports where top level players are getting paid many millions, such that they are on more than a million dollars per week – – then I’m not letting my kids get anywhere near the merchandise that relates to them. They don’t need it.

              The FIFA WC is growing to be a 48 team contest – possibly requiring up to 16 stadia – – US/Canada and Mexico will host the next one because clearly now it’s too big for a single nation (no way Morocco could’ve done it).

              But – the example in South Africa is that the spend was over the top – the ‘legacy’ of stadia is an unaffordable luxury. Yeah – in Jo’burg the stadium is well used, but most the others are financially in the red and under utilised. Perhaps money might have been better spent on a desal plant for Capetown!! They got in a mess – running out of water – and running out of budget for the temporary desal plants as well. Fat lot of good a shiny new soccer stadium is!!

              So – puh-leeze stop with the self congratulatory ‘social benefit’ of a soccer world cup. As with the Olympics – it’s a massive ‘distraction’ of dubious real benefit and unless you have the ongoing call for large stadia then don’t go building many more than you need for a one off tournament.

              Enjoy the event. Go Denmark!!

              • June 14th 2018 @ 12:39pm
                lunchboxexpert said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

                I think we both know that if the South African Government or the City of Capetown wanted to spend money on a Desalination plant or other drought resistant measures then they would have done so, regardless whether they built (or redeveloped) football stadiums for the 2010 world cup. Having said this FIFA should be responsible and held accountable for ensuring that host nations not only have credible plans to use the facilities post world cup but that those plans are implemented, so the world cup facilities don’t become single use facilities. FIFA should also be responsible for ensuring that the people who are involved in building and operating the world cup facilities (before, after and during the world cup) are properly paid, have good/safe working conditions and that no slave labour (or slave like) is involved either directly or indirectly.

              • June 14th 2018 @ 1:17pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 14th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report


                And that’s just it – for anyone to present the FIFA WC as being at the vanguard of social justice and responsibility is a load of twaddle when we regard what’s gone on in and around Qatar.

                Capetown is just a very real example of a city that got its priorities very wrong.

                Ironically – living in Melbourne – we got our desal plant and since, haven’t needed it – – but it’s there. And…..we have great stadia as well (although only the rectangle one was built by govt so that’s the irony of course – that had Govt also built Docklands and the MCG then there probably would not have been the money for a desal plant!!!).

                That though is my sentiment on this – the ‘build it and they will come’ argument is often quite feeble. If the demand were there before hand – then – very likely there would already be a stadium in strong usage.

                This was half the argument with the Aust bid for 2022 – and the rectangle games in this country, all 3 of them – have limited compelling argument for stand alone stadia of the FIFA WC variety. The recent big ticket stadia jobs have been oval venues. Which of course are more able to host a broader variety of events – – as we’ve seen with many a FIFA WC final being held in Olympic stadia with running tracks around them.

                The question for FIFA is – how magnanimous can they be with respect to leaving a general legacy compared to specifically a soccer/rectangle venue legacy. Can FIFA also be proud that perhaps a new bridge is built, or a new rail connection? Or a desal plant to allow all the visitors to have water…… 😉

              • June 14th 2018 @ 2:13pm
                lunchboxexpert said | June 14th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report


                I agree with you that the world cup is far from perfect, but as I said in a post on a previous artcle on theroar:


                the world is better place for the world cup than without.

                In terms of the bid, FIFA should only focus on the infrastructure required to host the world cup and not go outside this. I think its unfair and unachievable to expect FIFA to fix all the social, ethnic and cultural issues in the host country but instead only they “improve” some of them around the event itself and the infrastructure required to be built/redeveloped to host the event.⚽️

              • June 14th 2018 @ 4:27pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 14th 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report


                The dilemma moving forward – with a 48 team ‘finals’ – that goes out side of the capacity of the vast majority of single nations.

                The fact that it’s a single sport tournament – means that the ‘social’ benefit vs that of the Olympics is far more narrow in its focus.

                FIFA might have to be careful to not love the tournament to death.

              • June 14th 2018 @ 5:35pm
                lunchboxexpert said | June 14th 2018 @ 5:35pm | ! Report


                The way I see it is that the World Game is in a bit of a tight spot. There are many countries in Asia and in Africa losing interest because they see no possible way of making it to the “big dance”. On the otherside of the equarion as you point out by making the competition bigger then you are only making the world cup finals tournament more costly and more unmanageable while at the same time reducing the quality of the contests as more games will be played by teams that are far apart in terms of ability.

                But I am sure some compromise could be found. The format I prefer is a 1st round of sixteen groups of three teams each with the top team through. And 2nd round of four groups of four teams each with the top team through to the semifinals. The first round gets the number of teams up and for those that aren’t the very best, out the door. While the second round offers great competition amongst the sixteen best teams in the world, which I think is what many people want to see at the world cup. Total number of games for this tournament would be 76 ( as apposed to 64 currently), while teams reaching the finals will play a maximum of 7 games, the same as today. And it could easily fit in the 32 day tournament window that is used in Russia (and the last few world cups also) but probably not the 28 day window proposed for Qater in 2022. Sure its only two games for most teams instead of the current three, but this is the compromise that must be made to keep the tournament to a managable size (if you can call the current size managable).

        • June 13th 2018 @ 6:02pm
          Midfielder said | June 13th 2018 @ 6:02pm | ! Report


          Sorries again for getting you wrong before and a nice answer above.

          Through you may like this vid, its from a TV network I like and its their view of the Australian economy … makes Australia sound unbelievable, tis interesting

          hope you enjoy.

          • Roar Guru

            June 13th 2018 @ 7:27pm
            Rick Disnick said | June 13th 2018 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

            Australia is unbelievable. It’s why we have a queue a mile long of people waiting to get in.

            High Tech manufacturing, similar to South Korea’s capacity, should be our next aspirational goal. I relish the day we have companies like LG, Samsung and Hyundai building our goods to be exported around the world.

            I agree with everything in that video.

            • June 14th 2018 @ 12:26am
              Midfielder said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:26am | ! Report


              Its quite a good lot of vids these folks put together.

    • Roar Pro

      June 13th 2018 @ 9:16am
      Sebastian said | June 13th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      Perry in my opinion Football is the only world game, union is the next closest in regards to nations competing. In terms of football delivering peace, no I agree it won’t but what it does represent is a chance for people from different nations and backgrounds to unite without stigma and celebrate the largest global event on earth.

      • June 13th 2018 @ 10:01am
        Kris said | June 13th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        32 nations at least – I would have thought the Olympics claims the mantel for bringing nations together.

        I agree with Perry. Just enjoy it for the sporting spectacular it is without layering a Bachelor of Social Work over the top of it.

        • June 13th 2018 @ 10:35am
          Nemesis said | June 13th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          Utter rubbish to diminish the World Cup by saying 32 nations take part. It’s the typical comment we expect from people who are casual sports fans & clueless about football.

          207 nations have actually taken part in World Cup 2018. It will be 208 when Russia plays its opening match.

          What is happening in Russia over the next month is not the World Cup. It’s the World Cup Finals tournament. The full World Cup tournament includes every match played in qualification.

          The first match played in World Cup 2018 was Timor Leste vs Mongolia, on 12 March 2015.

          Already over 860 World Cup matches have been played to get to this finals stage. The 100m Olympic final only has 8 runners. But, to get to those 8 you have numerous heats & preliminary finals. Only an ignorant person would suggest “only 8 athletes take part in the 100m track event at the Olympics”.

          • June 13th 2018 @ 1:06pm
            Casper said | June 13th 2018 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

            The runners that don’t make the 100m final are still competing at the Olympics. They can still say they went to the Olympics. Mongolia and Timor can’t say that they have been to the World Cup. Kris is correct.

            • June 13th 2018 @ 1:17pm
              Perry Bridge said | June 13th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

              American Samoa and Vanuatu are pretty sure they can get the formula right to qualify for Qatar 2022.

              By the way – FIBA lists 213 national federations. They have major international competitions, world championships, major Olympic tournament etc.

              Basketball certainly trumps Union!!!

            • June 13th 2018 @ 1:28pm
              mattq said | June 13th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

              Mongolia and Timor can’t say they’ve been to a World Cup Finals. That is the correct statement. They have attempted to qualify for it many times. The athletes who compete at the Olympics, had to meet certain qualification benchmarks in order to be selected by their nations. The heats leading up to the final at the Olympics further eliminates participants. Just as the World Cup Finals hosts the group stages with only the top two progressing. It’s all the same if you break it down, just a slightly different structure. Thinking about a two man vs run for the Olympic gold actually sounds more exciting tbh.

              Kris is incorrect and Nemisis is correct.

            • June 13th 2018 @ 1:37pm
              Nemesis said | June 13th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

              Mongolia & Timor Leste entered & competed in the World Cup 2018 tournament. Sadly, neither nation made the Finals tournament.

              Just like South Melbourne & Melbourne Knights both entered the 2018 FFA Cup tournament, but neither club has made the final Round of 32.

              Had a beer with an FCK fan at Moscow Airport. His club team entered & competed in the 2017/18 UCL, even though they never made the Group Stage.

              No surprise that people who follow sports that have one competition every year don’t comprehend the differences.

              • June 13th 2018 @ 2:05pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report


                Timor Leste are an interesting example.

                They had to start at the very bottom. The 1st round of ‘qualifiers’. The bottom nations within their home confederation. 3 rounds for the top teams or 4 rounds of that before play offs and qualification.

                Basically – the confederation comps are like qualifying tournaments for the US Open at Augusta. Playing the qualifiers doth not count as playing at Augusta. You can spin it any way you want – but, a ‘qualifier’ is a really long way from being on the ‘big stage’.

                Now of course – Timor Leste are seemingly only as good as the Brazilians they can coerce to play for them – and they’ll be notably absent from the 2023 Asian Cup but that’s just a misunderstood example of the social cohesion generated by the FIFA WC.

              • June 13th 2018 @ 2:40pm
                Casper said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                Matty, the largest global event that Sebastian is talking about is occurring in the next couple of days in Russia. Timor and Mongolia have got nothing to do with that.

              • June 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm
                Nemesis said | June 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                “..the largest global event that Sebastian is talking about is occurring in the next couple of days in Russia. Timor and Mongolia have got nothing to do with that.”

                How funny is this? That means the biggest AFL event each year has nothing to do with the 16 other AFL teams that take part in the competition.

                The FA Cup Finale played at Wembley has nothing to do with the 700+ teams that entered the competition.

                The whole world is involved in the FIFA World Cup and that’s why the finals tournament is so popular. It’s the culmination of a tournament that every nation played a part in writing a chapter of the story, and that story will conclude in Moscow on Sunday, 15 July 2018 (Moscow Time).

              • June 13th 2018 @ 3:56pm
                Casper said | June 13th 2018 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

                Nemesis – how are Mongolian or Timor players and fans involved in what is about to happen in Russia? Players and fans from only 32 countries will have the chance to unite. Percy’s example of the US Masters is the same thing.

              • June 13th 2018 @ 4:17pm
                Nemesis said | June 13th 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                Same way I, as an Australian fan, was fully immersed in every World Cup from 1978 to 2002 when Australia wasn’t at the Finals Tournament. Same way I, as an Australian fan, will continue to be immersed in the Russian tournament even after Australia is knocked out – assuming we don’t make the Finale.

                Same way, I as a football fan watched the 2017 FFA Cup Finale even though my team was eliminated in the Ro16..

                If you don’t get it, no problem. You’re not part of the football community, so don’t bother yourself. Enjoy what you enjoy.

              • Roar Guru

                June 13th 2018 @ 4:20pm
                Matt H said | June 13th 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

                I can’t believe I’m saying this, but have to go with Nemesis on this one. 208 nations had a go at qualifying for the finals. To a greater or lessor degree everyone of those nations will have an interest in what transpires in Russia.

              • June 13th 2018 @ 5:12pm
                Casper said | June 13th 2018 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

                Matt, having an interest is completely different to being one of the competing nations. 32 nations are being united at one tournament, the rest are watching on tv.

              • June 13th 2018 @ 6:07pm
                Onside said | June 13th 2018 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

                Hope you are well Nemesis. I was wondering if you were following our quite small tribe at the Roar. Every body misses your perspective, even though, as you might on occasions have noticed , you do manage to generate a handful of contrary point of view. Stay well mate, enjoy the tournament ,and a safe return to your native land. Onside.

              • June 14th 2018 @ 9:56am
                Perry Bridge said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

                I just love that on a thread all about the social importance of the FIFA WC and of bringing different nations, peoples, cultures together…perhaps in the spirit of competition and participation??? perhaps?

                That #Nemesis drew upon Timor Leste as his example.

                “East Timor has been expelled from the 2023 AFC Asian Cup for falsifying documents of several Brazilian-born footballers, the Asian Football Confederation said on Friday.”



                “Birth and baptism certificates were doctored by football chiefs in a tiny southeast Asian country to allow a dozen Brazilians to play for them.

                Now East Timor has been punished for changing the documents.

                The players, who have represented clubs such as Palmeiras and Botafogo, helped the nation to its first ever win.

                But now it has been banned from the 2023 AFC Asian Cup following a joint investigation by the Asian Football Confederation and Fifa.

                They found the documents were doctored to falsely show the players had East Timorese heritage, with one or both of their parents being born in the country.”


                Timor Leste was a really, really bad example to draw upon – – there’s nothing here to celebrate social justice or cultural inclusion.

                They’ve completely lost their focus…..’dropped the ball’ if you will.

                The irony of course is most of their team that provided them their first win will feel a connection to the events in Moscow……the performance of Brazil will be closely followed!!!!

          • June 13th 2018 @ 1:37pm
            Kris said | June 13th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report


      • June 13th 2018 @ 2:18pm
        peeko said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

        football, daylight then basketball. rugby is a long way behind

        • Roar Guru

          June 13th 2018 @ 4:21pm
          Matt H said | June 13th 2018 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

          Yep, I would think tennis, cricket, golf would be on a par with Rugby in that third tier. Basketball is alone in 2nd place.

    • Roar Guru

      June 13th 2018 @ 10:30am
      JamesH said | June 13th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      Nice words, Sebastian. I thought you might get a few smart comments and I see they have already started.

      Sport – or healthy competition, more generally – has always had the capacity to bring people together. It’s not a solution to anything but it can help to foster positivity and cooperation, two things that feel like they are lacking a bit in the world right now.

      Whether or not our leaders can (or are willing to try to) harness those for any meaningful purpose is another matter.

    • June 13th 2018 @ 10:59am
      Onside said | June 13th 2018 @ 10:59am | ! Report

      There is another element at the most basic level.

      Everybody knows about the code .It’s Universal.

      It matters not wether a person follows the game
      or even likes it, but everybody, girl or boy, once
      had a round ball to kick when they were a kid.

      Not everybody has owned a baseball glove, a
      hockey stick, a cricket bat, some golf clubs, an
      oval shaped rugby ball, but everybody owned
      and kicked a type of round ball as a youngster.

      Football’s attraction is it is a very simple game
      that everybody once in their life played a form of.

      • Roar Guru

        June 13th 2018 @ 4:23pm
        Matt H said | June 13th 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

        Sort of like athletics. Every human being on the planet has probably run at some point. I can’t remember when I last did, but you get the point.

        Everyone has thrown, caught or kicked a ball I would have thought.

    • June 13th 2018 @ 11:28am
      Joe B said | June 13th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

      Whilst the WC event is all the things the author mentioned, it is disappointing they shied away from mentioning the atrocities the Russian Government has committed in recent years. The annexing of Crimea, anti gay laws, shooting down a commercial airliner – murdering 38 Australians, invasion of Georgia, murdering political opposition and reporters, assassination of former nationals on foreign soil, interfering in foreign democratic elections. But the biggest omission, is how gutless and weak FIFA is for not stripping Russia of the hosting privilege… sending a message to Putin supporters that these hostile activities are condoned by the rest of the world. Putin has used the WC to meet his own needs…. shame on FIFA – but we are hardly surprised.

      • June 13th 2018 @ 1:14pm
        Perry Bridge said | June 13th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        Will the Socceroos take to the field in all matches wearing black armbands for the victims of MH17?

        To me – something like the FIFA WC is just more papering over the cracks.

        It brings to mind the movie ‘Gladiator’.

        Rome IS the MOB. “He knows too well how to manipulate the mob”. Keep them happy – put on the sports – it’s all a diversion from the important stuff.

        Don’t try for a minute to portray top level professional sports as being the important stuff. It’s fluff. It’s bubblegum music and Hollywood tripe.

        And – seriously – you can’t get on a soap box about the FIFA World Cup and Social importance in the midst of the back to back Russia-Qatar World Cup events.

        The reality highlights a massive social justice chasm between the game and the real world.

        Be careful about drinking your own bathwater.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 9:45am
        Lou Louis said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Nice laundry list of non-sense. Russia is the last sane country and the last real hope for a better world.

        • June 14th 2018 @ 9:22pm
          tim said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:22pm | ! Report


    • June 13th 2018 @ 12:40pm
      Caltex & SBS support Australian Football said | June 13th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      The Australian Governments at all levels (state and federal) are clueless how best to use the Socceroos’ participation in the FIFA Football World Cup to their advantage. Smiply by using the Socceroos’ as a great example of our diversity and how well multiculturalism has worked in Australia.

      • June 13th 2018 @ 2:20pm
        Geoff Dustby said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

        yeah, because effniks donr playthe other codes. face it, watching and participating are 2 different things. i watch UFC but would never do it

        • June 13th 2018 @ 6:38pm
          Caltex & SBS support Australian Football said | June 13th 2018 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

          Your comment makes no sense—what is it, you are trying to say?