Twelve different cities will host matches this year, the most of any World Cup to date. The cities are all state capitals, which means that this World Cup will be one of the most evenly-distributed events across Brazil. For the purposes of economic development, it is important that the Borth, which is overlooked compared to the richer southern and coastal areas, will be sharing in the glories of this competition.
Three million Brazilians are estimated to be flying between locations due to the distance between cities. On top of this, an estimated 600,000 foreigners will be travelling to the tournament. However, the airport infrastructure seems to be lagging behind, as 10 of the terminals required will not have the requisite upgrades in time for the start of the tournament.
Seven-hundred million people tuned into the 2010 World Cup Final. In many European countries it was the highest-rated soccer game of all time. Indeed, the cumulative audience for the 2006 World Cup was 26.29 billion views. In 2014, the World Cup will be broadcasted to nearly 200 nations, further entrenching soccer as the sport of the world.
This will be the first World Cup with goal-line technology and vanishing spray to help referees. England was wrongly denied a goal against Germany in the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup, and FIFA has decided to implement goal-line technology to prevent such embarrassments from happening in future FIFA events. Vanishing spray, which is already used by the MLS, will allow referees to mark the 10-yard line for teams defending free kicks.
All of the participating nations have issued new jerseys. The £90 ($149.20) price tag on the England uniform has caused Prime Minister David Cameron to weigh in. Cue a minor national debate on whether Nike should focus on respecting the financial burden on fans or allow the free market to run its course.
Brazil has been tipped by bookmakers as favourites heading into the tournament. The country’s supremely talented squad—with the likes of Neymar, Oscar, and Thiago Silva—will be looking to break the 12 year absence of a non-european team from the title match. Germany, Argentina, and Spain have the next best odds to win.
Will either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi establish themselves as the best player in the world? Both have enjoyed success with their national sides; Ronaldo was impeccable in Portugal’s run to the 2012 Euro semi-finals, and Messi has scored an impressive 37 goals in 84 games for Argentina. However, the debate still rages as to who is better and this time, the whole world is watching, just as it did four years ago.
A team to watch is Belgium and their new golden generation of players. They posses one of the most talented starting lineups with intriguing players at every position group. Watch out for the imposing Vincent Kompany on defence, the skillful Eden Hazard in the middle, and the power of Romelu Lukaku up front. Expect them to become the casual fan’s favourite team.
In 2013, demonstrations took place outside the Brasilia National Stadium to protest the exorbitant expenditure on the tournament. As a result, the Brazil government has pledged a $900 million investment in security forces for this summer.
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: the soccer will be fantastic. Brazil has its most talented squad of the past decade; Germany boasts the best midfield in the world; Spain still plays a mesmerizing passing game and has a proven track record of success; Argentina is an offensive juggernaut; and Italy plays a suffocating style of defence, marshalled by the peerless Andrea Pirlo. There is an unparalleled amount of international quality in this era of soccer, and the winner will have justly proven themselves as the best team in the world.