The world is gearing up for the World Cup – teams are arriving and have been warming up (literally in the case of the Northern European teams) in nervous friendlies, fans are assembling and stadia are being hurriedly completed.
Around the world, new TVs are being ordered, fridges stocked and the backing peeled off football stickers by eager little fingers. Marketing campaigns are being ramped up by official sponsor companies, while plenty of others roll out opportunistic PR initiatives.
Strangely, and for the first time in many a year, the English press don’t seem to be ‘bigging up’ the chances of an English victory. In many ways it’s quite refreshing and let’s hope the lack of expectation bears some fruit! As a nation we’re not naturally optimistic, so this positive approach in the press has never really washed with most of the population. Expect the worst, secretly hope for the best would be more in tune with the nation’s psyche.
As ever, in the lead-up to global sporting events, controversies abound. Brazil’s lead-up to the World Cup has borne its share, from rioting triggered by anger at the cost of it all as well as government corruption and crime to question marks over the country’s ability to have everything ready in time.
Brazil, in line with other emerging market economies has seen volatile economic performance over recent months. Brazil is a favourite to win the World Cup, and the Brazilian government will be hoping that performance does not slump in this department. Many commentators predict that Brazil’s performance in this World Cup will have a direct impact on the election’s results – which seems entirely plausible. The collective mood of a nation is a key factor when it comes to decision-making in elections, as the recent results in Europe have shown, where general dissatisfaction has led to a routing of ‘established’ orders.
Recent reports into Qatar’s bid for the World Cup have turned the controversy spotlight away from Brazil and on to that nation. In a rare move, sponsors who pay so much to be associated with some of the ‘magic’, are starting to ask questions. Maybe the ‘new transparency’ will lead to a new paradigm in how sporting events are managed and promoted, although the wheels of these sporting governing bodies tend to grind quite slowly.
One thing is certain, when the tournament starts in a few days’ time, most of the world will forget about the negatives and focus on the football. If England (currently at around anything between 25-1 – 30-1 to win the World Cup) defy the low expectations that the English press seem to have finally grasped is the natural habitat of the English, then things really could reach fever pitch!