It’s nearly time. The time every soccer fan around the world waits every four years for. Non-soccer fans get excited and cheer on the national team; even your mum and aunty, who don’t like soccer, can’t help getting drawn in. Finally, it’s time for the FIFA World Cup and the battle of the nations for the title of Champions of The World.
This year we have had to wait even longer than usual. The FIFA World Cup is usually a summer event, but no one was mad enough to consider a football tournament in Qatar in the height of summer. Well, actually, they were. Qatar, somewhat controversially, was awarded the fixture. So naturally, people were worried about players and fans in the 50-degree heat. Fortunately, good sense prevailed, and the matches are now in November and December. Even then, the winter days and nights have average temperatures of 24-28 degrees Celsius. However, the organizers have found a way around this with air-conditioned stadiums and pitches.
Outside of the USA, soccer is football, the beautiful game. It is played with passion, and the FIFA World Cup is expected to attract a global audience of over 3 billion people. One billion are expected to tune in for the final. Put simply; it is the single biggest sporting event in the world.
The big question is, where will you get the best view of all the action? Superfans might be on their way to experience the fixtures in the flesh, with over one million people forecast to attend the sixty-four matches in Qatar. It is the first FIFA World Cup hosted in the Middle East. As watching football and drinking a beer are activities that often go hand in hand, it will be interesting to see how fans cope with being in a country where the consumption of alcohol is not permitted in public. The BBC reports that there will be limited alcohol sales within the stadium. In addition, fans have been warned against smuggling alcoholic drinks into the country. The organizers say that they are still finalizing their alcohol strategy.
Most of us will be tuning in on TV or powering up the laptop. The action will be broadcast by different stations, depending on which country fans are watching from. There are plenty of live-streaming options for those, so no one needs to miss out. However, time differences worldwide mean that someone will be watching in the wee small hours, so they might prefer to watch on a catch-up service.
Many betting apps offer great live streaming and ‘watch as live’ options and offer the viewers the chance to have a flutter. Unlike digital and streaming TV options, there is no subscription to pay. However, the FIFA World Cup is such an enormous and popular event that you can probably find someone broadcasting the matches on your standard digital service provider. It all depends on the level of content and analysis you are looking for.
The USA team find themselves in group B with the English, Welsh, and Iranians. This group undoubtedly has many off-pitch rivalries and friendships, which could make for some interesting fan interaction and on-pitch power plays. England are third favorites to hoist the trophy, but the Three Lions have been waiting since 1966 for this event to happen again, and they have not been so impressive in recent warm-up matches against Italy and Germany. Iran are very much the outsiders in the group, with Wales and the USA more evenly matched; Wales has not progressed this far in the competition for sixty-four years. On the other hand, the USA has experienced the pressure before.
The favorites for the title are Brazil, with the current title holders, France, in close second place. However, it is not unusual for outlier teams to do well in the early stages of the tournament as the individual players from different club sides can take time to settle into a team. The action all kicks off on November 20th when Qatar faces Ecuador.