The FIFA World Cup: An Exploitation of Human Emotion ?

raam shankerContributor INovember 21, 2009

BEIJING, CHINA - JUNE 5: (CHINA OUT) An attendant is seen through a show window featuring football stars and the World Cup trophy at an adidas shop on June 5, 2006 in Beijing, China. Billboards and decorations featuring imagery relating to the World Cup, which starts June 9 in Germany, are being displayed on many Beijing streets as the event is seen as a great opportunity for local businesses, according to local media. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
China Photos/Getty Images

Every four years we’re treated to a sporting reality show in which 32 football teams, each representing a country compete for the “ultimate prize” in football—The World Cup.

In retrospection what made football the beautiful game are its simplicity, easy to remember rules and subliminal skills. What made it a global sensation is the advent of technology and emergence of new media over time.

In the good old days people used to walk to the local grounds to see their favoured teams, have a few pints, relish the little joys in life, shake hands at the end of it all and go back home to reality. What started as a means of entertainment for factory workers and miners became a full time source of income for a lot of people as the decades progressed.

Today however we have witnessed a change in the way the sport is perceived. Even though the basic premise of the game has not changed, what has drastically changed is its image. It is no more a working man’s game and bears no resemblance to its humble roots. The biggest reason is technology.

The growth in technology has changed the way we see the game. Firstly the radio and then the television have changed the way we see football. Today cameras placed strategically all over the stadium beam images on to a satellite spinning a few miles above us that relays images back to us sitting at home with our beers.

This global reach has opened up new avenues for generating revenue. For starters, the players themselves get paid a king’s ransom. Add to it, the endorsements, sponsorship deals, media appearances, jersey sales, merchandising etc, you see a human advertisement hoarding banking on world-wide viewership.

Viewership in layman terms means the amount of people watching the event.  So it’s obvious that bigger stars attract a larger audience. Larger audience means wider reach and hence more selling opportunities. The rest is statistics. If you have more opportunities to sell, the probability of selling is greater and so is the potential to make money.

Question: How do I get more people to watch the event? It’s a no brainer; as long as I ensure famous players playing for famous teams are playing in the global event, I am guaranteed a  good viewership. This in turn is linked not just with advertising revenue, but also player based revenue, which is a result of the passion, love and affection displayed by the fans all over.


Now having said all this, let’s face the truth; we’re humans. We have emotions and we’re passionate about certain things ranging from our favourite pint of beer to the football teams  and players we love and support.

More importantly it is this love of this beautiful game that drives us to commit actions that display our love and affection. We buy those products endorsed by our favourite players because deep down in our sub-conscious mind we feel a bond forming between us and our idols. On a superficial level it relates thus; they win, we’re happy, they lose we’re sad.

Day-to-day life would be too monotonous if it weren’t for these little feelings, the heart stopping moments that make us laugh and cry and the memories of such moments spent with our loved ones that we cherish. That’s probably why we’re not bothered about the exploitation of our emotions. Come to think of it, emotions make us who we are, they make us human.