Mega sport events such as the FIFA World Cup have created the phenomenon of the “live site”, an off-site public space for fans and supporters to gather together to watch the game. In Melbourne, Federation Square and Birrarung Marr fill this role; in Amsterdam, it is Museumplein.
A live site has the ability to develop communitas - the creation of a sacred space that allows participants to experience excitement, enthusiasm, and community cohesion through spontaneous celebration. Communitas has been used to understand social leverage of sport events, that is, the use of sport to achieve non-sport aims such as community development and event legacy.
The use of a public space, and often public funds, to encourage the community to gather to watch a sport event may seem an unusual use of resources. However for the many thousands of sport fans unable to attend the games at the venue itself, a live site provides a unique opportunity for individuals to gather together to celebrate something bigger than themselves.
Indeed, members of the community gather together in homes, parks and of course pubs across the world to share in the celebration. When watching sport, with friends and strangers alike, there are moments of shared joy, despair and awe at feats of endurance and spectacular displays of human strength and skill.
For all of the moral failings of sport, and the FIFA World Cup has provided more than its fair share of examples, sport arguably provides a unique experience to bring communities together. A live site extends this opportunity to those in public spaces across the world to share in the celebration.