By Japheth Ogila
Published August 2, 2014
Football is a game of gentlemen that is watched by thugs. Now that the Fifa World Cup 2014 has just ended in Brazil with Germany being crowned world champions, this could be the time to look at the good side of this game that was invented in England and perfected in Germany.
When one takes into consideration the large number of people that soccer draws across the globe, business ventures must have thrived in the Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo where matches were played. The Brazilian Institute of Tourism estimated that around 600,000 football tourists would attend the 2014 tournaments and this would translate into more than US$11 billion earnings for Brazil that had invested an estimated US$14 Billion in hosting the history-making tournament.
Kenyan entrepreneurs and their counterparts in other countries who run bars and football screening halls, too, must have reaped profits from the first whistle in the debutant fixture when Brazil took on Croatia at Arena de Sao Paolo.
Prior to the tournament, a survey on Sports Economy by Nairobi’s PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) had indicated that Kenyan merchandisers, betting agencies, advertising and media companies expected to make Sh9.2 billion (approximately US$108 million) during World Cup viewings.
Even ‘impromptu’ entrepreneurs who would turn their living rooms into paid soccer viewing areas just because they have large flat screens might have made income from the matches however little.
When African teams—Ghana and Nigeria—were taking on mighty Germany and legendary Argentina, respectively, and the ball finds the net to register an ‘African’ goal, friendships must have been made as proof that friendships are forged through shared football passion.
“Football is an important means for people to form and maintain strong friendships that might otherwise not exist. These social bonds between fans are so strong that many describe them in familial, kinship terms — ‘my brotherhood’ or ‘my family’. ‘Football friends’ are different from friends in other areas of life”, Football Passions, a survey commissioned by Canon in 2012, says.
Soccer fanaticism, if effectively harnessed, can unite a divided country as happened during the civil war in Ivory Coast in 2006. Upon qualifying for their first World Cup contest, the whole country rallied behind the team.