Monday, June 12, 2006

How Global is Football?

If you don’t think the world is crazy about football (or soccer), think again. In addition to the staggering numbers of people who will be watching it (the 31-day tournament will have a cumulative television audience of 19 billion, with the July 9 final drawing more than 1 billion viewers), here are some fascinating examples of how crazy it can get:

  • A tenuous truce between the government and rebels in the Ivory Coast holds firm because of the World Cup (Last October, after Ivory Coast clinched a trip to Germany, President Laurent Gbagbo acceded to the entreaties of his soccer federation and restarted peace talks in a country ravaged by conflict since 1999.). That’s nothing new – in 1967, Nigeria's civil war halted for two days so both sides could watch visiting Pele play in a match.
  • The World Trade Organization negotiators have agreed to end meetings at 4 p.m. in time for kick-off.
  • In China, 70 percent of football fans said they planned to watch all 63 matches, even though most will take place in the middle of the Chinese night.
  • In the Koreas, North has turned to South for help with rebroadcasting, so its people can see some of the action.
  • Arab leaders are scrambling to help poor citizens see the games after a regional pay-TV network bought exclusive broadcasting rights.
  • And of you don’t see how global it is, well, keep in mind that the international soccer federation FIFA has more members than the United Nations (207 vs. 191).
  • Even in remote areas of Africa, entire villages will turn out to watch the games on a battered television powered by a generator. Where there is no television, they will listen to it on the radio.
  • In the great cities and small towns of Italy, the honking horns and great explosions of cheers from every neighborhood announce the news of when the Azzurri have scored.
Can you think of anything else more "global"?


At 09:01, Anonymous Abie said...

Plus the football is a globe, after all :-)


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