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Opinion: World Cup Mania - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I am not aware of any event that captivates its followers to the extent to which the World Cup—currently being held in Brazil—does.

What is more important is its ability to endure, and to multiply its success many times over, whether in terms of geographic expanse or in financial returns—which are massive.

Arabs usually unite around teams team that represent them during World Cups; they completely set aside their differences for the duration of the tournament given that overall few Arab teams quality. Religious, sectarian and partisan differences are temporarily suspended all over the world when it comes to some teams—such as Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, France, Spain and the Netherlands—who are so zealously supported that a follower of this phenomenon would feel that this special affiliation to football was stronger than national affiliations.

This tournament, because it is held only once every four years, is imbued with a significant amount of longing, yearning and desire. The World Cup over the years has turned into an enormous PR campaign for the host countries. Participating countries also benefit as their teams became ambassadors, raising awareness of the countries they represent, resulting in increased tourism as well as investment and trade.

Also, over time, the tournament has provided an opportunity for countries in the southern hemisphere or the Third World to confront and defeat those industrial countries that were their former colonialists or enemies, and, while maintaining a true sporting spirit, prove themselves or even achieve retribution—without shedding blood.

The tournament has challenged the creative abilities of all those involved, whether in the media with its spectacular TV coverage, or in the field of advertising or even in the realm of refereeing, which has developed into a fine art, using the best tools to evaluate errors and ensure that goals are given correctly and fairly.

Of course, creativity also extends to the planning and building of stadiums, to security and to the management of crowds and events, which during World Cup matches represents the apex of modern-day human and technological achievement.

The World Cup is not just a football event; it is a comprehensive and enormous industry which is stimulated by economic interests that are difficult to measure, but which are of great importance. It is what makes half the earth’s inhabitants eagerly follow the game of football for a whole month as though it is a drug to which they are addicted.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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