FIFA World Cup scandals

The World Cup final pitting France against Croatia in Russia was viewed by about 3 billion people. This meant that it remained the most watched sporting event in the world. Such success must have come as a relief to FIFA at a time when it was reeling from the revelations of corruption within the organization. The graft allegations were especially damaging since they revolved around the awarding of the 2010, 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights to South Africa, Russia and Qatar respectively. The World Cup is FIFA's flagship showpiece tournament and its biggest source of revenue (about $6 billion from the 2018 event).

The World Cup final ZMost of the worlds biggest corporations pay top dollar to be part of the sponsors of the event. When the corruption scandal came to the fore in 2015, these corporations were quick to express their concerns. None of them would have wanted their brands' name tarnished by being associated with a tainted event. If they had withdrawn their financial support than FIFA would have been in left extremely tough situation. The scandal led to the arrest and of some of the senior members of FIFA. Those arrested included sitting members of the executive council as well as former and sitting heads of continental and national federations. Sepp Blatter, the incumbent and long serving FIFA president, was ushered out of office and promptly banned from all football related activities for 6 years.

Such an embarrassing scandal would have been expected to deal a huge blow to the tournament's popularity among fans and sponsors alike. Instead the World Cup proved itself to be very resilient as the 2018 showpiece in Russia turned out to be the most watched sporting event in history. Businesses and media outlets showed they were still very much in love with the tournament by running advertisement campaigns centered around the tournament. The Coca-Cola company was among the most active in its hyping of the tournament. The company sponsored a worldwide World Cup trophy tour that included a branded plane. Presidents of various nations were pictured beaming as they held the trophy aloft giving the championship a seal of approval from governments around the world.

The trophy tour also gave ordinary football fans a chance to take pictures with the trophy. Thousands turned up to take this opportunity with some even bringing their families along to share the experience. It did not matter that they could not touch the trophy (as it was enclosed in a glass casing), the fans were still enthralled to be near the 6.175 kg solid gold trophy. Media outlets also ran advertisement campaigns for the tournament. Most of these were by television stations that had bought the rights to broadcast World Cup matches live. TV stations that did not have these rights did not want to be completely outdone by their competitors and thus had teams of analysts discussing the games. Social media supplemented the traditional media by providing a platform for fans to air their views and throw some banter at each other.

The players at the tournament and FIFA itself also engaged the fans on social media. FIFA also, for the first time, set up a World Cup fantasy competition to engage the masses even further. Having seen the Russia-hosted edition of the World Cup survive the graft storm, it can be safe to assume that the 2022 edition will be an unparalleled success as well.