Why the World Cup stops the planet in its tracks

Every four years, the FIFA World Cup captivates the global audience, uniting people across continents through their shared love for football. 

This tournament, arguably the most prestigious in all sports, has the unique ability to stop the usual hum of daily life as fans crowd around screens large and small to watch the drama unfold. 

In the UK, where football holds a place akin to a national religion, the tournament’s impact is profound, drawing viewing figures into the millions and sparking nationwide conversations. 

As preparations for the 2026 World Cup begin in the United States, Canada and Mexico, the anticipation is palpable, underscoring the event’s significance not just as a sporting competition but as a cultural phenomenon.


Symbol of global unity 

The World Cup is more than just a tournament; it is a potent symbol of international camaraderie. Every edition sees fans from vastly different backgrounds come together, united by their common passion. In pubs and living rooms, club rivalries are made friendly, and differences are set aside. This unity is a powerful reminder of football’s ability to transcend societal divides. Political divides can also be crossed in the name of sport, such as Iran and the USA meeting at France ’98 where players from the oft-quarrelling countries posed together for a joint photograph.


Festival of cultures 

Each World Cup also serves as a festival of cultures, showcasing the traditions and celebrations of the participating nations. Host cities come alive with the colours and sounds of the world, from Brazilian samba beats to German chants, providing a testament to the World Cup’s ability to create a melting pot of cultures and foster a spirit of global brotherhood.


Economic impact 

While the direct economic impacts of hosting the World Cup can be debated, there’s no denying the festival-like atmosphere drives significant tourism revenue. For the host nation, the global attention can translate into increased tourist interest long after the final whistle has blown. Although it comes with substantial infrastructure costs, the visibility and potential long-term tourism benefits can leave a lasting positive impact.


Amplifier of national pride 

The tournament also amplifies national pride. When a nation’s team steps onto the global stage, it represents more than just a team; it embodies national hopes and dreams. The collective spirit when a country advances through the rounds is palpable. England’s surprise run to the 2018 semi-finals reinforced a sense of community and national pride, bringing people together to cheer on Gareth Southgate’s side.


Birthplace of footballing legends 

One of the most compelling aspects of the World Cup is its capacity to transform promising talents into world-renowned superstars. Alexis Mac Allister is a prime example. Before his outstanding performances in the 2022 World Cup, he was far from a household name, albeit earning praise for his performances at Brighton and Hove Albion. However, a pivotal role in Argentina’s success catapulted him into global stardom and helped Mac Allister secure a move to Liverpool.


Showcase of tactical evolution 

The World Cup is not only a battle of teams but also of tactical minds. It is a showcase for the latest tactical evolutions in football, where coaches from different continents bring their unique philosophies into play. This clash of styles and strategies enriches the game, influencing coaching techniques worldwide and pushing the boundaries of what is possible on the pitch. Spain’s tiki-taka brilliance in the 2000s and 2010s reached a zenith at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but the game moved on just as fast, with La Roja eliminated in the group stage just four years later.


Memorable moments and matches 

From Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick in 1966 to Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ in 1986, the World Cup is rich in unforgettable moments. Each tournament is etched into the collective memory with its set of iconic matches that redefine what it means to be a football fan. A battle of superstar forwards lit up the final of the most recent edition in Qatar. France forward Kylian Mbappe scored just the second hat-trick in World Cup final history but was ultimately outdone by global icon Lionel Messi, who scored two goals to steer Argentina to a penalty shootout success.



Jessica Alexander

Jessica Alexander

I've always loved to write, but I'd never want to be famous. So, I write as Jessica A. over here at ADDICTED. You can think of my like Carmen Sandiego, you trust me, but where in the world am I?