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The World Cup that was: a look back through social media

Mario Goetze’s 112th-minute goal won Germany the World Cup final, but that match wasn’t the most tweeted of the tournament. EPA/Marcus Brandt

The World Cup that was: a look back through social media

Mario Goetze’s 112th-minute goal won Germany the World Cup final, but that match wasn’t the most tweeted of the tournament. EPA/Marcus Brandt

On Sunday, Germany held the World Cup aloft after scoring a goal in extra time. Somewhat surprisingly, the final wasn’t the most tweeted event of the 2014 tournament: that title went to Germany’s demolition of Brazil in its semi-final four days earlier, which ended up being the most tweeted sporting event in history.

Let’s take a look back at some of the bigger stories of the World Cup from social media, as well as the prominence of the event in Europe.

One widely reported research result from the knockout stages of the World Cup was how Twitter users reacted to the penalty shootouts. Twitter’s own research department put out a graph of the Greece v Costa Rica match, which was widely picked up in the press.

In particular, Twitter noted that sometimes “silence tells the story”:

A penalty shootout seen through Twitter activity. Twitter

Parallels can be drawn here to other events. Particularly, we looked in the past at how different forms of television spark Twitter conversation, with reality television frequently seeing peaks in discussion during the show.

This contrasts with dramas such as Sherlock, which often see their peaks at the end, with a similar “anticipation” window during the show itself.

The US (and Australia) loves football

As we discussed previously, the World Cup has set viewing and streaming records in the United States.

It seems the presence of Americans in the Twitter conversation hasn’t been significantly hit by their team’s elimination. Germany v Brazil had the highest viewing figures of any World Cup semi-final in American television history, and was the highest ranked non-US game ever on ESPN/ESPN2.

A look at tweets on generic World Cup hashtags from July 10-14 show the US led the way in number of tweets. Brazil ranked second, with locals still interested through their team’s third-place playoff (and, of course, any tourists who had changed their timezone). London ranked third with finalists Argentina in fourth place:

Top timezones: tweets from July 10-14. QUT Social Media Research Group

In Australia, SBS also reported new streaming records for its World Cup coverage across mobile and online, with users showing a large preference for “live” coverage versus on-demand. SBS’ World Cup multi-stream service (below) won many plaudits, with the only negative being that sound issues persisted throughout the final.

Screenshot: SBS multi-streaming.

Comic relief

As ever, beyond the discussion of the matches themselves, social media remains a hotbed for sarcasm and humour. FIFA president Sepp Blatter was a source of controversy throughout the tournament, and – sitting next to Vladamir Putin – remained a source of amusement (and marketing) in the final, as shown in this tweet by Betfair Australia:

Also prominent during the penalty shootout that decided the Netherlands v Argentina semi-final was a mistake from British commentator Peter Drury, who was featured on the television feed that went to range of countries including Australia.

Drury has never been one of the most popular commentators, and his mistake – being ready to proclaim the Netherlands victors in the semi-final – quickly spread around the internet. See the Drury penalty call below:

The view from Europe

We started this series of articles discussing the role of brands during the World Cup, and that was one of the themes in Europe as well. In many cities you were unable to move without noticing some form of localised World Cup branding, including the following example from Cyprus (which did not qualify).

World Cup promotions in Cyprus. Darryl Woodford

Noticeable across Europe, though, were extensive World Cup decorations: from bars in basically every city, through to the large screens that inundated public squares, and – in the case of Amsterdam – a sea of orange which descended upon the city and sat above nearly every pathway in the Centrum.

Street decorations in Amsterdam. Darryl Woodford

And that’s the World Cup.