No wonder Pelé referred to it as “The Beautiful Game.” A total of 3.572 billion watched the 2018 FIFA World Cup – that’s more than half of the global population, according to figures published by FIFA. Out of this total, 3.262 billion watched the competition at home, while 309.7 million enjoyed the World Cup through streaming, or in public places, such as bars and restaurants.
It is estimated that the amount of money spent on placing bets at the top UK sportsbooks, for the 2018 World Cup, was more than double that of the 2014 Brazil World Cup. The increase in mobile access and live streaming is one of the main factors. Even the final between France and Croatia on July 15, attracted a combined global audience of 1.12 billion (considering those who connected for at least a minute). This includes 884.37 million viewers at home and a smashing 231.82 million through streaming.
On average, the 64 games recorded 191 million viewers in front of their home television screens, 2.1% more than the 2014 Brazil World Cup. This higher average is due to better results in the group stage matches (+ 3.8%) and the knockout rounds (+ 8.4%), while the final recorded an average of 517 million viewers, compared to 545 million in 2014.
African and Middle Eastern Popularity is Growing
“The World Game” saw a significant boost to its audience in the Russia 2018 World Cup, through the African and Middle Eastern regions (+ 66.2%, over 200 million more viewers than in 2014). In proportion to that, South America is the region with the largest number of viewers, with as many as 99.6% of the population following at least one minute of a World Cup match. Europe follows South America at 86.1%.
Putin spent €11 billion, nearly matching the Sochi Winter Olympics
In hosting the 32 national teams, Putin definitely made a good impression in front of the world. But it took an investment of €11 billion to do so. It is not the most expensive World Cup in history, as four years earlier, Brazil spent nearly 15 billion on the World Cup.
Is it a coincidence that the last three FIFA World Cups were luxuriously held in the three major emerging economies of “BRICS” (precisely South Africa, Brazil and Russia)? The next World Cup, in 2022 will be hosted by the very rich Qatar, while 2026 will see US-Canada-Mexico battle it out with Morocco. Morocco promises to challenge the richest of opponents.
There was a Beautiful Golden Mask
The Russians had to spend big in order to comply with the costly obligations imposed by FIFA. Especially to securely cover a whole series of concerns that could turn the World Cup from a dream, into a nightmare, at any moment including the unsubstantiated forecasts of hooligans failing to respect civil rights, especially towards the LGBT community and other minorities.
Thank you, Russia… It was a success!
The bulk of Putin’s shopping went into successfully building the 12 stadiums and the surrounding infrastructure. Apart from the hiccup of St. Petersburg (the stadium had cost €1 billion, five times more in comparison to the initial project).
The figures really go to support the claim that Russia 2018 was the best ever World Cup. It is pleasing to see an increase in the average time spectators spent on watching games. The World Cup obviously gave fans what they wanted!