What with oil slicks growing and aid ships being forcibly boarded and sanctions being levied and nuclear-weapons threats being kicked across ‘demilitarized’ zones, it is important to remember that human beings do indeed have the capacity to share a positive competitive experience. And thus begins the World Cup in South Africa!
The ideal of the tournament was first raised in 1914 (oh, the irony), but FIFA, the world association of national soccer/football associations, concentrated its efforts on the Olympics until the mid-1920s, when the body pressed ahead with a tournament open to professionals. The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay, who went on to win it by defeating Argentina 4-2. ‘Only’ 13 teams joined that first tournament, but with over 93,000 fans pouring into the stadium for the Final, it was clearly a huge success. The World Cup has been held every four years (with the exception of the 1940s) ever since, and it has grown with each successive tournament. It is the single most-watched event on the globe, and unlike the ‘World’ Series, or ‘World’ Champions of the NFL, the winners of the World Cup can honestly claim the title.
The press moved in a big way toward blogging their reports and experiences at the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, as the mainstream media got involved with what tech-savvy independents were doing in France four years earlier. This go-round, tweeting match reports, statistics, and gossip seems to be the way forward. The official @FIFAWorldCupTM/wc2010 boasts over 77K followers (It was at 72 thousand in the middle of last week), but there are hundreds of other accounts of varying ‘officialness.’ One can also follow a specific country’s tweet (@World_Cup_USA or @SRB_WorldCup or any of the other thirty-two teams participating.
The opportunity for social media to stretch still further the game in the US will be interesting to track. Social media were largely invented in the US (by immigrants from the near east, Asia, and Europe), but World Cup glory has still eluded us. With so many folks following and being followed, many of whom will follow someone following the World Cup, perhaps a new swathe of Twitterers will become followers of the World Cup? If it happens to you, head over to the US’s bid to host the World Cup (again, after 1994) in 2018 or 2022, sign the petition, and follow the progress.
And what would a great tournament be without some daring predictions? Although we get a freebie (The #mkcreative team will be at #Zellas in Hollins Market, Baltimore for England vs USA #worldcup2010, Sat, 6/12 @ 2:30PM EST. Join us! – 3:58 PM Jun 9th via Twitter for iPhone), we predict a 2-2 draw or 2-3 victory to England (Remember: A loss should not cost the US a place in the next round), a surprisingly quick exit by perennially strong nations Argentina and Germany, and a final victory by Spain. Or perhaps Brazil. If it were easy to predict, what would be the fun of all that Twittering?!?