Is The World Cup More Than Just A Football Tournament?

14 June 2018

The four-year wait is over, and another World Cup is finally upon us. It’s an event like no other and means something special and unique to different people. We’ve spoken to members of our team here at Speakers Corner, as well as some of our favourite speakers to find out what the World Cup means to them.

We chatted to Louise, who is Assistant to our MD Nick - she explained why this World Cup will be particularly special;

I have two boys aged 7 and 5, and for both of them this is the first football tournament that they have been really interested in. It’s going to be great to watch the matches with them and see how excited they get. My youngest son supports England and is looking forward to seeing Harry Kane in action, whereas my eldest has decided that he is going to be Portuguese due to his obsession with Ronaldo. I did try and turn him towards England but then thought better of it – he’s much less likely to feel disappointment with das Quinas.

Louise fondly remembers her own first World Cup;

My first memory of watching the World Cup was at Italia 90 and I’ve loved it ever since. I love that you can watch three games of football a day between random teams which you would never usually watch and it’s a totally acceptable thing to do!

We asked presenter, broadcaster, and comedian,  Ian Stone , whether he will be watching the tournament this summer;

I will be watching the World Cup. Why? Because I love it, obviously, but also because it’s been just over a week without any meaningful football and I’m starting to lose the will to live!

As to why I love it and what it means to me, it’s not because of great England performances, I’ve watched every world cup since 1970 and it’s been pretty much constant failure. Of course, there’s always the tiny possibility that England might surprise everyone and that’s what keeps me coming back. But I love it because of the joy and despair. The fact that when one country scores a late winner, half a million people in a town square in that country lose their minds while, at the same time, half a million people in the town square of the losing country are gutted. No other sporting occasion provides that sort of drama. I can’t wait!

“I love it because of the joy and despair.”

Our Accounts Assistant,  Mo , also loves the uncertainty of the beautiful game;

I'm a person who follows the game closely and for me, the World Cup is the pinnacle of world football. It’s the most viewed sporting event in the world, and a chance to see the very best players in the world performing at the highest level for their countries.

I’ll be supporting England, despite that if recent history is anything to go by my expectations are not that high. But this is football and you never know what could happen. This level of uncertainty is what makes football such an entertaining affair - like no other! A prime example being Leicester’s 2015/16 Premier League victory.

Hayley McQueen is one of the UK’s leading football broadcasters, and so she’s heading out to Russia for the kick-off;

I will be based with the England team media camp for the first week of the tournament, broadcasting from Repino in Russia then returning to England to watch it with friends and probably go to a few viewing parties. My partner isn't into football so doubt I will get to watch too much at home.

A World Cup summer is always special. There is something very sociable about it with people arranging BBQs or parties around matches, and not just England games of course.

I love the adverts on the TV, the buzz, and the fact that when strolling around multicultural London you have so many people proudly wearing different nation’s shirts.

Despite my Dad playing for Scotland, I will be hoping that England and the European teams do well.

“A World Cup summer is always special.”

Head of Marketing,  Rob , relives his life through World Cup memories;

For me, each World Cup has been a landmark in my life.

USA ‘94 was primary school, France ‘98 was sitting in secondary school listening to the games via radio, Japan and Korea in ‘02 was A-levels and pub breakfasts, Germany ‘06 was a young man starting my career seduced by the golden generation, in 2010 I was moving in with my girlfriend (now wife) and in 2014 I was dealing with the loss of a close relative. I now have a toddler, so how many games I’ll get to watch in 2018 is debatable!

But what has made me excited every 4 years is the memory of Italia 90. Gazza, Pavarotti, Schillaci, Baggio, Roger Milla, Des Lynam et al, discovering new players, watching stories unfold and creating memories of a lifetime. So, now for the next month, I get to be that wide-eyed, excitable 6-year-old boy, all over again.

With over 60 international caps under her belt, including a bronze medal from the hugely successful 2015 Football World Cup, professional footballer Laura Bassett tells us what the tournament means to her;

It means a lot to me, having experienced a World Cup environment and everything that goes with it, it's my chance to live it as a fan! Many priorities go on hold and I start living my life by the match schedule rather than a normal diary. During England games I experience a range of emotions and get animated as if I was playing!

I am always optimistic and positive when it comes to England before a tournament. Having represented England, I know how much it means to players to have supporters who express these feelings, so I choose to send positive vibes and support the team regardless of result.

And finally, some advice from Laura for the players making their World Cup debuts;

My main advice would be to have ultimate belief and trust. Trust in the game plan, trust your team's preparation and most importantly trust your ability and mental strength, in positive and negative situations.

“Priorities go on hold and I start living my life by the match schedule.”

The World Cup really is one of those special occasions, like the Olympic Games, where cultural and political differences move aside for a feeling of unity. Of course, there is competition. Of course, there is pride, and passion. But during a World Cup, people from all walks of life can be united by a shared love of football – things can get so absurd that you might even have a conversation with a stranger on the tube.

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