World Cup football means something different to everyone

As World Cup fever dies out and fans look forward to the 2014 tournament in Brazil, kits and scarves go back into the closet and the world disunites to its respective corners, looking forward to the next reunion down the road.

Everyone knows the World Cup is important. It is the global apex of sports competition and it has a power to unify the world.

Sure, we all made jokes about how the North Korean national team would be subject to firing squad for not advancing out of the group stage, but for all the world’s problems with that particular nation, they ceased to exist for those 90 minutes plus stoppage time.

Beyond the obvious economic benefits, the World Cup is almost magical in a way. If you are a real fan, it makes you feel things that you never thought a sport could make you feel, something that not even the most intense seven game Stanley Cup final series can match.

There was one quote I read from a journalist who summed it up perfectly when he said that “in no other time in sports can you say ‘Shit, let’s invade that country’ after losing and it be perfectly acceptable”.

The World Cup has that kind of power. It transcends issues of the day and puts everyone’s focus on 22 men and a ball.

While the World Cup boosts global morale for a month and make most of us forget about the world’s problems, it has extremely effective economic benefits as well. With hundreds of millions of dollars going into stadiums, transportation infrastructure and media accommodation (think of the recent G20, and multiply times 100), it has been shown that any nation hosting a World Cup will get approximately a 1% boost in GDP.

While that doesn’t sound overly spectacular to the lay person, it is almost unfathomable in terms of real metrics. The World Cup has such an impact on the global economy that institutes have even measured how much market productivity is lost during the one month span of the tournament (between $5-7 billion in 2006).

There is a fair share of haters out there, but for many, mostly outside of the US and Canada, football is a way of life. For ignorant people who only seem to care about football once World Cup mania begins, they are committing an act worse than blasphemy.

There are also the bandwagon fans who pick teams randomly, out of a straw hat, or by the best looking kits and feel the need to update Facebook every time “their team” wins or scores a goal.

The best part is, real fans don’t care, they’ll make fun of you after the Cup is over or when “your team” gets the boot. They will embrace the hater, the bandwagoner, and the ignorant Johnny-come-lately fans, because it doesn’t matter during the Cup. As long as you hate the vuvuzelas and could pound back a few brews, you are accepted into the football culture.

The World Cup means something different to everyone. To some, the FIFA World Cup Trophy is equivalent to the Holy Grail, to others it’s a shiny, gold-plated bauble to give to the squad with the best divers, signifying the end of a very exuberant and rambunctious month.

There is no denying from anyone, however, the importance of the World Cup. It can almost single-handedly turn around a country’s economy, it unifies people from all corners of the globe, and even gives you an excuse to ditch work in the middle of day to go to the pub, what else could do that?