The cultural impact of the World Cup

It’s the biggest sporting event to come round every four years. The FIFA World Cup is the most widely viewed international tournament in the world, with 7.4 million viewers flocking to watch the events on ESPN in 2010 alone.

With newer developments in technology since 2010, these figures are only going to rise – but what is it about the World Cup that makes it such a worldwide frenzy? This year’s World Cup has had a huge cultural impact on the world, from its contrasts with the age of austerity to popular culture. Here’s a look at just why there’s so much hype surrounding this international event.

The memorabilia

Vuvuzelas 1

In 2010, the South African World Cup hype was all about the vuvuzelas – these annoying but needlessly addictive instruments were great for warming up crowds and celebrating when our national teams would score. In 2014 however, things have come a long way – whereas wall charts and sticker albums were a great pastime four years ago, we now have an app for almost every facet of the world cup, including the aforementioned stickers. With so much World Cup hype available at our fingertips, it’s no wonder it’s the most widely viewed event in the world.

The music


One reason for the World Cup hysteria in 2014 is the controversial World Cup anthem choice. In 2010, Shakira’s Waka Waka (This is Africa) was a hit around the world. The competition for the official World Cup anthem in 2014 however was fraught with much more controversy: Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull’s We Are One (Ole Ola) was heavily criticized for its lack of Portuguese lyrics (of which a few paltry lines from Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte were featured) and its general stereotypes on Brazil. So highly debated was the choice, in fact, that there was even a Twitter campaign to bring the 2010 World Cup theme back as the official 2014 choice, despite its lyrics largely focusing on South Africa.

The national spirit

World Cup views

Of course, despite criticisms from influential figures in pop culture like Paulo Ito’s eye-opening mural, the reason for the World Cup hype is invariably the way in which it brings nations together. Official figures from FIFA have revealed that of the 473,076 tickets that were sold, the USA took 125,465 tickets, while fans from much further afield including Germany would be flying to Rio – 55,666 to be exact.

National identity is hugely significant during the World Cup, from Argentina’s controversial Malvinas protest during the friendlies to the debate of Messi’s affiliation with his national team. With a tournament taking place every four years, it’s no wonder that football fans around the world to flock to see the biggest sporting event in history.