Is qualifying for the World Cup enough to keep Australia happy?
The Socceroos scraped through to qualifying with the most amount of matches out of any country to get into the Cup. A feat in itself. However, the disappointing results proved to be a hard pill to swallow for the Australian public.
This World Cup has been the single most watched/streamed World Cup in history. Given the level of technological advancement in which we currently live in, this statistic isn’t that surprising.
The online accessibility of the World Cup allowed for a decent proportion of countries involved to tune in and be a part of the action. All thirty-two countries had their own critical matches, celebrations and heartbreaks. Given that soccer is considered “The World Game”, the World Cup is the most esteemed Soccer competition and perhaps sporting competition that the World has to offer.
Brittney Woodford, Victoria University Student, 20, was in Portugal at the time that Portugal had their grudge match against rivals, Spain.
“Through the streets there would be stalls people could buy alcohol from, a big screen in the centre square for people to watch the game.”
Brittney continues, “I feel as if in Australia, we have become more focused on footy and cricket, games that are more commonly associated with Australia.”
According to chartsbin.com, a collation of world wide statistics in wide ranges of subjects, soccer was the most popular sport in 56 different countries as of 2015, Portugal included.
David Paoli, 20, Melbourne University student, was in Indonesia at the time of the World Cup.Although Indonesia didn’t qualify for the World Cup, the interest and investment into the Cup tells a different story.
“The whole place was decked out in World Cup memorabilia and endorsements, all the taxi-drivers and shop owners would ask you who you thought would win the World Cup”.
Paoli continues, “We associate certain days now with national sporting events (Boxing Day test and ANZAC Day match), this just shows how systematically ingrained these sports are within Australian culture.”
These factors make it increasingly difficult for soccer to have the same effect on Australian culture.
Max Paoli, 24, Swinburne student, travelled to Russia to watch the Socceroos play in their fourth-straight World Cup. Alongside around 5,000 other Aussies.
“Nearly every venue, café, bar and restaurant had multiple televisions purchased to stream the game”, stated Max.
Russia is another one of the 56 countries that deem soccer to be the most popular sport, again according to chartsbin.com.
“For some people it’s like a religion”, stated Max.
Joshua Moloney arrived in France the day of the Cup final.
“In terms of impact it was crazy, completely brought everyone together.”
Moloney continues, “The next day everyone was so happy, still celebrating the win. Unbelievable scenes.”
Soccer obviously has embedded itself into the French culture.
But why isn’t there a national love for the game? Australia was one of thirty-two teams that fought their way to make it to the World Cup; it’s an incredible effort. The saying goes that Australians love an underdog which is yet another reason to get behind the Socceroos.
The AFL Grand Final of 2017 featuring the Tigers and the Crows, received 2.7 million viewers. The Australian Open Grand Final 2017 saw 2.686 million viewers, as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer battled it out. The A-league as broadcast on subscription television, bringing in a record 553,000 viewers.
These statistics clearly show the gap in interest between soccer and other sports in Australia.
Previously mentioned ideas surrounding the commitment to other prominent sports, is perhaps the reason there isn’t a huge backing from the Australian people.
The World Cup was broadcast by SBS on free-to-air television which increased the national interest in the Cup. This allowed for a record 3.4 million Australians to tune in, which trumps all other sporting events and their viewing figures.
With a combination of online accessibility, free-to-air television for friendly or International matches and an increase in the quality of the domestic game, soccer in Australia and the Socceroos have the ability to embed themselves into Australian culture.