World Cup – Articles, Analysis, Comment

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Nike is only ‘unofficially’ present at the World Cup, which is officially sponsored by Adidas, through its sponsored teams such as Australia. EPA/Armando Babani

Nike, Adidas and the World Cup’s marketing war

The football World Cup currently underway in Brazil is not only a battle between two teams on the pitch and 32 nations overall, but also a battle off the field. Although eight different companies provide…
Coca Cola is a major sponsor of the World Cup, but non-sponsors are capitalising on the tournament too. George/Flickr

Brands are big winners in the ‘first social media World Cup’

The 2014 World Cup has already seen a significant volume of Twitter conversation across a number of (English language) keywords, including #joinin, #worldcup, #Brazil2014 and #worldcup2014, as well as…
If you would like to see a large number of desperately poor people enjoy the joy of a World Cup victory, you should cheer for Nigeria. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

Stuck for a World Cup team? Shoot for the happiness dividend

Let’s be realistic. Australia is the lowest ranked of the 32 teams in the World Cup, and despite a very creditable performance in its first match against Chile, its chances of making it out of the group…
FIFA’s chief medical officer is adamant there’s no doping in football … but experience says otherwise. Gabriel Corbacho Bermejo/Flickr

Doping in football – does it make the game any less beautiful?

It is often said that football is the beautiful game, resistant to the kinds of doping seen in cycling, baseball or less beautiful games of the same name. Much like Australia’s confidence before its “blackest…
Chile’s Alexis Sanchez fell victim to a goal disallowed by an offside call in the 2010 World Cup. So what are the nuts and bolts of the rule? EPA/Sergey Dolzhenko

Explainer: the offside rule

The offside rule is perhaps one of the most controversial rules ever applied to football. We only need to look to Mexico vs Cameroon on day two of the 2014 World Cup. Thank god for the 61st minute goal…
Economic modelling predicts that Germany is the most likely country to qualify for the semi-finals at the 2014 World Cup. EPA/Andreas Gebert

An economic crisis may make you stronger – in football

Forget Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Mario Balotelli. What will make your country more (or less) likely to succeed in the World Cup is its rate of economic growth. At this point, I expect European…
Even if you’re not this enamoured with football, here’s some insight into the players’ minds. Moazzam Brohi/Flickr

Mind games: a World Cup guide for armchair psychologists

Fan or foe, chances are over the next four weeks you’ll catch at least parts of World Cup matches, whether through bleary eyes in the wee hours or snippets on the evening news. If you’re unfamiliar with…
Russian model Irina Shayk is sure to turn heads off the pitch … but will boyfriend and Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo be able to keep his mind on the game? EPA/Walter Bieri

To score, or not to score? Sex, WAGs and the World Cup

While watching their national teams play in the World Cup, spectators may have their attention drawn away from the “beautiful game” on the pitch to the beautiful people off the pitch – the footballers…
Winners are definitely grinners – but what makes teams such as Spain so successful? EPA/Kerim Okten

Victor predictors: the eight great traits of World Cup champions

It is hard to imagine a World Cup in which Germany, Brazil, Italy, Argentina, the Netherlands, England, France and Spain did not appear, or in which one of them did not win. What is it that makes some…
Whatever the outcome, Australian fans should rest assured that the young national team will perform to their utmost at the World Cup. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

In a tough group, expect Australia to give its all at this World Cup

The late, great “Captain Socceroo”, Johnny Warren, always used to challenge the people who ran football in Australia with this blunt demand: We should be aiming to win the World Cup, not just trying to…
Spain’s revitalisation of ‘beautiful football’ in recent years has been extremely successful. How have football tactics evolved over the years? EPA/Zurab Kurtsikidze

Tactics at the World Cup: a battle between aesthetics and results

The football World Cup may be yet to kick off, but there have already been innumerable discussions on the various playing styles that each country will adopt. Will they play a 4-4-2, a 4-2-3-1, or a straight…
Latin America won’t be a continent of injustice, corruption and poverty but the spiritual home of the beautiful game. Felipe Trueba/EPA

The World Cup illusion will soothe South America again … for a while

It’s June 25, 1978, and a six-year-old Irish boy is watching TV. What he sees that night will remain with him forever. Argentina won the football World Cup on home soil – the last time the event was held…
Australia first qualified for the World Cup in 1974, when a group of part-timers under captain Peter Wilson (far right) went to West Germany. Anton Cernak

Qualifying is never easy: Australia’s World Cup history

Australia will soon begin its fourth football World Cup finals campaign – the third successive tournament it has qualified for – with group stage matches against Chile, the Netherlands and Spain. While…
Australian travellers are increasingly returning home infected with mosquito-borne diseases. Flickr:hkroeger28

Don’t let dengue mozzies ruin your World Cup fever

Football fever may not be the only thing spreading when hundreds of thousands of sports fans converge on Brazil for the FIFA World Cup this June and July. Mass events such as the Olympic and Commonwealth…
Australia’s Anna Flanagan reacts after scoring against Belgium in the Field Hockey World Cup. EPA/Evert-Jan Daniels

Australia could win the World Cup … in the Netherlands

Like most Australians, I will be staying up late to watch our country play in the FIFA World Cup. But I will also be watching the other World Cup. We’re being bombarded by pre-publicity for the Football…
FIFA suggests that 270 million people are involved in playing or officiating football around the world, with billions also tuning into the World Cup every four years. EPA/Sebastiao Moreira

It may be the World Cup, but how global is the ‘world game’?

In 1863, the newly formed English Football Association (FA) drew up and published the first Laws of the Game of football. The aim was to provide a set of universal rules to govern the various forms of…
The yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, taking a bloodmeal. James Gathany/Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Travelling to Brazil? Here’s what you should know about yellow fever

Of the dangers facing travellers to Brazil for the World Cup, yellow fever is one of the least likely to pose a real threat. But there are two important things to know about the illness. First, it’s a…
In preparing for the World Cup, Brazilian police have embarked on a process of cleaning up the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, known as favelas. EPA/Antonio Lacerda

Brazil’s World Cup preparations showcase ‘celebration capitalism’

Brazil is famous for many things: samba, football and beaches, but also its favelas, the poor neighbourhoods that encircle its cities. These areas are often on invaded lands in middle and upper-class neighbourhoods…
The heroics of South Korea’s national football team in the 2002 World Cup, which it co-hosted with Japan, energised the country and restored its national pride. Damien Gabrielson

South Korea and Brazil: intangible legacies of hosting the World Cup

The host nations of major sporting tournaments like the football World Cup are usually obsessed with the international status and prestige that comes with holding these events. However, the impact that…
Similar protests to those that rocked Brazil during 2013 will no doubt re-appear during the World Cup, as many locals aim to increase their social and political rights. EPA/Marcelo Sayao

Will the World Cup leave a positive legacy in Brazil?

During last year’s Confederations Cup football tournament in Brazil, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the country’s streets to demand change. Protests that started with a clear opposition…
Spain took home the 2010 World Cup trophy – can they do it again this year? EPA/Peter Klaunzer

World Cup 2014 predictions: who will take the title?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a hard-core football nut, a once-every-four-years fan or even a psychic animal – most of us speculate on the winner of the World Cup. The 2014 competition is held in Brazil…
Hopes are high for Brazil as it prepares to host the World Cup and hold an election, but real economic change is unlikely to flow. BostonCatholic/Flickr

Brazil: the awoken giant stumbles

This year’s FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics seem to be a coronation of Brazil’s undeniable and startling success. But with the Brazilian presidential elections looming later this year, a surge in…
A team of 30 PackBots – one shown here being used in Afghanistan – will boost security in Brazil during the World Cup. The U.S. Army/Flickr (cropped)

War robots and the 2014 World Cup – defenders off the field

High-tech robots called PackBots will be unleashed during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil to help boost security and examine suspicious objects. The Brazilian government purportedly spent US$7.2 million…