Centre-back Gary Cahill and striker Daniel Sturridge will be the only survivors from Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Uruguay in Sao Paulo, which sealed England’s elimination in the FIFA Ultimate Team Coins group phase.
“Well, Ben Foster will play in goal,” Hodgson told a pre-match press conference at the Estadio Mineirao.
“The right-back will be Phil Jones. Gary Cahill will play centre-half alongside Chris Smalling, and Luke Shaw will play left-back.
“In midfield we will have (James) Milner, (Frank) Lampard, (Jack) Wilshere, (Ross) Barkley and (Adam) Lallana, and Sturridge will play up front.”
Southampton left-back Shaw, 18, and 20-year-old Everton midfielder Barkley will be making their first competitive starts for England.
While Hodgson is eager to give as many members of his squad a taste of World Cup football as possible, he also wants to see his side sign off with a victory.
“With a very different team and a lot of players who haven’t played in the tournament so far, I wanted everyone to go home from this tournament — or at least as many as possible — having taken part and played in a game, not just training,” he said.
“We’re very conscious of the fact that our fans are as disappointed and devastated as we are, but they are still here supporting us.
“We came into the hotel and received a lot of sympathy, kind words from them, and we really want to make certain tomorrow (Tuesday) night that they see something that they can take some encouragement from.
“And most importantly of all, it’s a top-class international on the biggest stage of all, the World Cup, so anything else than taking the game very seriously and trying to win the game in its own right would be out of the question.”
Hodgson had already announced that 36-year-old Lampard would captain the side, on what is expected to be his final England appearance, with regular skipper Steven Gerrard starting on the bench.
Lampard is expected to announce his international retirement after the tournament, but Hodgson still hopes to be able to call upon the former Chelsea midfielder in future.
“With regard to Frank Lampard, he’s 36,” Hodgson added. “We don’t know as yet what his next destination is. I would be more than happy if Frank remains available for selection because you never know when you need players.
“A quality player like him, I am sure he could serve the country well even in the future, but I haven’t had that conversation with him as such as yet.”
While there is nothing riding on the match for England, Costa Rica require a point from the game to secure top spot in Group D.
England FIFA 14 Ultimate Team Coins team to play Costa Rica: Ben Foster; Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw; Frank Lampard (capt), Jack Wilshere; James Milner, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana; Daniel Sturridge
The UK’s deputy prime minister believes football’s governing body should strip the country of its right to host the 2018 tournament due to the escalating conflict in Ukraine
UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg says Russia should lose the right to host the 2018 World Cup due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Fifa has already stated that the tournament in Russia can be “a force for good”, rejecting calls from Germany and other leading nations to have the finals moved from the country.
The European Union has already extended sanctions against Russia over the escalating levels of conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine following the disaster of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which crashed on July 17 after allegedly being shot down by pro-Russia rebel forces.
Clegg, however, feels these sanctions should include stripping the country of the right to host football’s showpiece event in four years’ time, claiming it is “unthinkable” to allow the finals to go ahead in Russia unless president Vladimir Putin listens to calls to withdraw from the conflict.
“Vladimir Putin himself has to understand that he can’t have his cake and eat it,” the Liberal Democrat leader told The Sunday Times.
“He can’t constantly… push the patience of the international community beyond breaking point, destabilise a neighbouring country, protect these armed separatists in the east of Ukraine and still have the privilege and honour of receiving all the accolades in 2018 for being the host nation of the World Cup.
“You can’t have this – the beautiful game marred by the ugly aggression of Russia on the Russian-Ukrainian border.”
England lost out in the bidding process to host the World Cup but Clegg was eager to stress his comments were not indicative of a “British land grab to snatch the World Cup from under Vladimir Putin’s nose”.
“If there’s one thing that Vladimir Putin cares about, as far as I can see, it’s his sense of status,” he added.
“Maybe reminding him that you can’t retain the same status in the world if you ignore the rest of the world, maybe that will have some effect on his thinking.”
Fifa has already released a statement to stress its conviction that the World Cup in Russia can help “achieve positive change in the world”.
“As a world governing body of football Fifa takes its responsibility in governing football seriously and we support any peaceful and democratic debate. Fifa deplores any form of violence and will continue to use its tournaments to promote dialogue, understanding and peace among peoples,” the statement on Friday read.
“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems.
“Fifa is convinced that, through football, particularly the World Cup and its international spotlight, we can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics. We have seen that the World Cup can be a force for good and Fifa believes this will be the case for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.”
Laurent Blanc said his World Cup-weary Paris Saint-Germain players are over their disappointments in Brazil, ahead of the Ligue 1 season.
A dozen of Blanc’s squad were involved in the 2014 finals, although none came home with the trophy.
Among those are Brazil defender David Luiz, who was noticeably emotional after the host nation’s 7-1 humbling at the hands of Germany in the semi-finals.
However, coach Blanc said his World Cup contingent have put their international failures in the past as they focus on domestic duties in France.
“I think PSG’s players have put things in perspective. I have talked to them,” he said.
“They are obviously disappointed, which is something logical. But life goes on. You have to move on. You have to move on because a World Cup is every four years.
“Even though you don’t play a World Cup every year, there is a need to move on. They failed in the competition, they didn’t play the way they wanted to. It’s over.
“Every player goes back to their clubs with some new personal and collective objectives in mind. Life goes on.”
Blanc had four of his players among the Brazilian squad, who were embarrassed in the last four by eventual winners Germany – David Luiz, Maxwell, Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta.
But he backed the quartet to recover from the shock loss.
“They were clearly disappointed. There was a huge pressure on the Brazilians, particularly because they were playing at home. The expectations in the country were huge,” Blanc said.
“They were out not only sooner than expected but they also lost against a great team. The disappointment was as great as the expectation of the whole country.
“The expectations might have been too big. They are in the same situation [as the Italians]. They failed to fulfil their objective which was winning the World Cup.
“But moving on is important. In life, you don’t always achieve your goals. When these goals are not achieved, we try to set up new ones.”
PSG’s league campaign kicks off on August 8, when they travel to Reims.
FIFA Coins should review the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar if an investigation shows that corruption played a part in the winning bid, according to English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke.
Appearing before a parliamentary committee, Dyke said FIFA should publish in full a report into the bidding process for 2018 and 2022 being compiled by American lawyer Michael Garcia.
However, Dyke played down talk of stripping Russia of the 2018 tournament because of political tensions over Ukraine.
Garcia, who has been leading a FIFA ethics committee investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the award of the 2022 World Cup to the Gulf state, will submit his report in September.
“If Mr Garcia shows that there have been corrupt activities, the whole thing should be reconsidered,” Dyke said.
Dyke said he was convinced that the tournament would not be held in June or July if it was played in Qatar because of the intense heat, with a move to a cooler time of the year like November or December a certainty.
Dyke played down suggestions that Russia could be stripped of the World Cup as a punishment for the downing of a passenger plane over Ukraine last week which Western nations have blamed on separatists backed by Moscow.
“I think there will be a World Cup in Russia,” Dyke told reporters after the hearing.
He had earlier told lawmakers that a decision to move a World Cup should not be based on “one week’s events”.
Dyke said he believed that FIFA President Sepp Blatter would be re-elected if he stands again next year despite corruption allegations surrounding world soccer’s governing body.
Blatter has been head of FIFA since 1998 and is expected to seek another term.
“If he runs again he will win,” Dyke said, adding that European distaste for the methods of the 78-year-old Swiss was not shared in other parts of the world.
Dyke said that England, which lost out to Russia in the bidding for 2018, would focus on hosting European events for the time being.
He said Blatter’s dislike for the British media, which has led campaigns to expose FIFA corruption, made it impossible to win a World Cup bid.
“Mr Blatter’s view of the English media is such that he says why would you want to take it to England?” the former head of the BBC said.
The plain-speaking Dyke jokingly compared FIFA to a one-party state, in comments unlikely to endear him to Blatter.
Referring to a meeting of FIFA’s congress in Sao Paulo he attended in June, Dyke said it was “like something out of North Korea at times – hail to the leader”.
The German football federation (DfB) has admitted that the FIFA World Cup trophy has been “chipped” during celebrations after the national team arrived in Berlin on a special flight after beating Argentina 1-0 in the final at Rio on July 13. According to reports, it is not clear who damaged the trophy.
The FIFA usually presents a replica of the World Cup to the champions. When Germany won their fourth World Cup to become the first European side to win a world championship in Latin America, Philipp Lahm and his team were presented with a look alike golden Cup. The original trophy remains at the FIFA headquarters. It is worth 8 million Pounds.
Germany’s players have been accorded heroes’ status with players parading on bus tops. But the celebrations have had a controversial touch too. The German players were criticized for mocking the Argentinians with a dance act led by Mario Goetze, the man who scored the only goal in the final.
DfB president Wolfgang Niersbach has admitted the damage to the World Cup. “At one point, a small piece of our World Cup trophy was chipped off,” Niersbach has been quoted by Die Welt. “But do not worry! We have specialists on the case who can fix it.”
The German official said: “We have investigated persistently who it was that damaged the trophy, but the investigation was concluded without a result.”
The World Cup trophy has always been a target of thieves. The original trophy – the Jules Rimet Trophy – was stolen for good in 1983 from Brazil.
Golden-boot winner James Rodriguez’s stunning chest-down and volley against Uruguay has been voted the goal of the World Cup.
Rodriguez scored twice in his country’s 2-0 last-16 victory over Uruguay on his way to ending the tournament as top-scorer with six goals.
His first goal in that game received over four million votes in a fan poll on FIFA’s website.
A sublime header by the Netherlands’ Robin van Persie against Spain came second.
Rodriguez has been linked with FIFA Ultimate Team Coins a move from Monaco to Real Madrid with some reports this Monday morning claiming a fee of €80million has been agreed for the striker.
Costa Rica ranks 16th in the world — its highest position ever — in the first FIFA rankings published since the World Cup.
The Ticos jumped up 12 places after reaching the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time. Costa Rica also surpassed Mexico (No. 18) for the first time since the polls started in 1993.
Costa Rica’s previous best ranking was No. 17 in 2003. The Ticos are now the second-highest ranked team in the North and Central America region known as CONCACAF, trailing only the United States. The U.S. slipped two spots to No. 15.
The FIFA rankings, released Thursday, often are criticized for its seemingly baseless methodology that looks at countries’ performances over a four-year period. However, the latest rankings, at least at the top, seem to reflect what occurred in Brazil.
World Cup champion Germany tops the list. Runner-up Argentina is second, followed by third-place finishers the Netherlands. The Dutch, along with Costa Rica, were the biggest risers in the new poll among World Cup participants as both moved up 12 spots.
England, the last-place finishers in Costa Rica’s group, suffered the biggest fall. The English plunged 10 spots to 20th, the country’s lowest ranking since May 1996. Costa Rica and England played to a scoreless tie. But the game was mostly meaningless: By that point the Ticos already had qualified for the next round and England already was eliminated.
Spain, the previous No. 1, fell to 8th after a shock group stage elimination. The tournament hosts Brazil dropped four spots to No. 7 after an inadequate fourth place finish.
Portugal, like Spain, plummeted seven spots, landing at No. 11 after disappointing in the World Cup again.
The Italians, defeated by Costa Rica 1-0 in Group D, fell five spots to No. 14 after failing to escape the group stage.
Uruguay, beaten by Costa Rica 3-1 in Group D’s opening match, managed to move up a spot to 6th in the world. The Ticos knocked off the Uruguayans when they were playing without injured superstar Luis Suárez. The striker returned for the next two matches, and Uruguay won them both to reach the knockout round (Suárez missed the team’s knockout round loss to Colombia, after being suspended for biting an Italian player).
Greece, the team Costa Rica eliminated on PKs to reach the quarterfinals, fell one spot to 13.
Panama, at No. 33, is now the fourth-highest ranked team from CONCACAF despite missing the tournament. Honduras, the final CONCACAF team to qualify, dropped seven spots to 40th. Honduras lost all three of its matches at the World Cup.
As for the rest of Central America, El Salvador somehow plummeted 53 spots to 121. Guatemala fell seven spots to 13th. Belize tumbled nine spots to 117. And although Nicaragua moved up one spot, the country still ranks last on the isthmus at 175. Still, Nicaraguans had much reason to celebrate during this World Cup thanks to the historic play of Costa Rica’s Nicaragua-born defender Óscar Duarte.
Additionally, The Ticos learned Thursday morning that they’ll face Nicaragua and Panama in September in the first round of the Central America Cup 2014.
1. Germany (+1)
2. Argentina (+3)
3. The Netherlands (+12)
4. Colombia (+4)
5. Belgium (+6)
6. Uruguay (+1)
7. Brazil (-4)
8. Spain (-7)
9. Switzerland (-3)
10. France (+7)
11. Portugal (-7)
12. Chile (+2)
13. Greece (-1)
14. Italy (-5)
15. United States (-2)
16. Costa Rica (+12)
17. Croatia (+1)
18. Mexico (+2)
19. Bosnia and Herzegovina (+2)
20. England (-10)
Now it is time back to FIFA 14 and looking forward to FIFA 15 since the World Cup 2014 Brazil had come to an end. FUT assembles the best players from international and club competition around the world even during the tournament. It is this FUT-Team of the Week.
GK: Sean Johnson-Chicago Fire-Untied States
CB: Haris Radetinac-Djurgardens-Sweden
CB: Vegard Forren-Molde FK-Norway
CB: Kim Jin Kyu-FC Seoul-Korea
LM: Emil Forsberg-Malmo FF-Sweden
CM: Christian Grindheim-Valerenga Fotball-Norway
CM: Martin Ericsson-BK Hacken-Sweden
RM: Alexander Milosevic-AIK-Sweden
ST: Fagner-Busan I’Park-Korea
ST: Jermain Defoe-Toronto FC-Canada
ST: Thierry Henry-New York Red Bulls-United States
Substitutes & Reserves
GK: Mathias Dyngeland-Sogndal Fotball-Norway
CB: Garry Buckley-Cork City-Ireland
CB: Chad Marshall-Seattle Sounders-United States
LM: Lee Jong Ho-Chunnam Dragons-Korea
ST: Matthias Vilhjalmsson-IK Start-Norway
ST: Dom Dwyer-Sporting KC-United States
ST: Rory Patterson-Derry City-Ireland
The starting line-up and positioning might be a slight different in game. Challenge them now and have fun playing football games.
Now that the book is closed on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, soccer fans turn their eyes to Russia, where the next World Cup will be hosted in four years.
One of the most interesting storylines obviously revolves on which sides will be major contenders in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Latin Post.com takes a look at the teams that should be contending for the top prize in four years time:
The dark horses of this World Cup were a rather inexperienced and young side. The nation had not participated in a major competition since 2002 (no Euro or World Cup) and was unsurprisingly overwhelmed in this competition.
They labored through the group stage before finding their verve against the Americans in the round of 16. But against Argentina, the team wilted despite dominating possession. They simply lacked the confidence to replicate their turn against the USA. Top stars such as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Romelu Lukaku, Marounane Fellaini and Thibaut Courtois will be in their prime years. This experience will certainly have taught them valuable lessons. They will be top contenders to win the crown in Europe.
The South Americans were surely the talk of the tournament after showcasing a spectacular brand of attacking soccer that was rarely seen for the four weeks.
The team’s top player, James Rodriguez, was the star of the tournament and won the Golden Boot; he will be 26 in four years and should be a far more formidable player. Juan Fernando Quintero, another rising star, had his flashes of brilliance in Brazil and will be 24 by the time the tournament rolls around. Expect these guys to be in top shape for the 2018 tournament. Juan Cuadrado, David Ospina, Santiago Arias and Victor Ibarbo are also among the major Colombians that will be in their prime when the Russian iteration comes around. And that is without considering Radamel Falcao, the superstar who got Colombia to the World Cup and was their top players before Rodriguez’s conquest of the world. Falcao missed Brazil due to injury and will be 32 by the time the World Cup returns. That may be past his prime, but a player of Falcao’s stature could still be a solid contributor off the bench or even as a starter depending on his physical state. Just ask the 38-year-old Mario Yepes who was Colombia’s top defender and captain in this past tournament. Los Cafeteros could have won the tournament in 2014. In 2018 they should be more formidable.
Another team that captured the imagination of the world was Chile. The South Americans played with a brutally fast pace that left top sides (ie Spain) in the dust. Alexis Sanchez will be 29 in four years and could still see his peak years ahead as the top star at Arsenal. Arturo Vidal will be 31 but could still be a big piece. Eduardo Vargas, Gary Medel, Mauricio Isla, Charles Aranguiz and Eugenio Mena will all be in their prime years with one last chance at winning it all. They could very well achieve the feat.
The former World Cup champs endured a tough tournament and are likely set for a rebuild. But it might not take as long as it has in the past.
Spain has a plethora of top young players that are ready to take over the senior side. The U-21 side recently won the European championship with such players as Thiago Alcantara, Isco, Koke, David De Gea, Asier Illarramendi, Daniel Carvajal, Iker Munain, Alvaro Morata, Alberto Moreno, Inigo Martinez and Marc Bartra among others. Throw in other top players who will still be in their primes – Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata, Jordi Alba, Javi Martinez and even Diego Costa and this is a squad that could be reckoned with. And one cannot overlook the possibility that a 34-year-old Andres Iniesta could still have a major impact in four years time. Just look at what Andrea Pirlo has done in his ripe old age. Spain has an identity and can easily put together a top side to win it all.
And of course the World champs are the uncontested favorites to win it again in four years.
This squad that won the tournament features a plethora of young guys, including Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Julian Draxler, Mesut Özil, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Shkodran Mustafi, Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng, Andre Schurrle, Benedikt Howedes and Christoph Kramer, will all be in their primes in 2018. Six of those players listed scored in the tournament and most had a major impact on the win. The team is the favorite to win the Euro 2016 and should be the big favorite to reclaim its title in four years time.
The French are set to make noise at home in the 2016 Euro. The team had a good showing in Brazil and is relatively young.
Neymar should be a top star in four years but the question is whether he will have a good team around him to make the push. Another side that will carry question marks is Argentina. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria will all be 30 or older and past their respective primes. The team was already mediocre with them at their prime ages; how will it look when they are over the hill? Russia had a poor showing in Brazil but they will be contenders in four years. Will that make a difference?
If you are under the age of 40, think about how you watched the current FIFA World Cup.
While the game was on, how many times did you reach out to grab your phone, tablet or laptop? Chances are you did this multiple times and most certainly during the breaks in play. Whether it was to celebrate a “Gooooaaaaallllll”, rant about a bad decision, advise the coach or offer your condolences to your favorite team after a defeat, chances are Twitter and Facebook was your medium of communication.
According to official data released by Facebook on 30 June, more than one billion people liked, shared or commented on World Cup 2014 related content during the group stages alone. It is therefore safe to assume that this number would have easily doubled by 13 July, the day of the final. Similarly Twitter has been buzzing with World Cup news and views since the beginning of the tournament.
The microblogging site in fact preempted this and created official accounts and hashtags for all the matches. It also allowed users to change their cover images to that of their favourite teams, tweet out little graphics of the flags of participating countries and create filters that allowed them to get updates on various teams and players. And people responded.
The Brazil vs Germany semi-final match logged a mind-boggling 35.6 million tweets, breaking the previous record of 16.4 million tweets that were sent out during the Brazil-Chile round of 16 match.
While the second screen floodgates may have opened with this current World Cup, the reality is that social media analysts, sports marketers and broadcasters have been talking about the power of the second screen since as early as 2005.
What makes the second screen so powerful? It empowers the three biggest stakeholders in sports – the athletes, sponsors and fans.
Social media allows the players on the field to come across as accessible and human. One gets a peep into their personal lives and thoughts. They can be just a tweet, Facebook like or comment away, while at the same time maintaining a distance that allows them to still be revered. Think of the the cool kids in school or college. You watched them from afar most of the time but once in a while, if you were lucky, they would acknowledge your greeting.
It is the fact that we all have access to these athletes that makes all the difference. Now we can hear firsthand Colombian defender Juan Zuniga’s apology to Neymar or Mesut Özil’s exuberation at reaching the finals.
And who loves the stars and the fans getting together? The brands.
Even not so avid fans know that official sponsorships are sold for astronomical sums. And the millions that firms spend to acquire rights is just half the battle. What really matters is how much have they set aside as activation budgets. This is where social media comes in. It is a low-cost, high-engagement medium that helps brands interact with potential customers from all over the world. It also increases sponsorship inventory and provides brands which don’t have deep pockets to get a piece of an international sporting event.
During the current World Cup, practically every brand created a social media campaign around it, irrespective of whether they were official sponsors or not. Social media and the second screen phenomenon have made brands more engaged and freed them of the shackles of traditional media. Like people, they can now react in real time. An example that immediately comes to my mind is Snickers and the tweet it sent out after the Suarez biting incident – “Hey @luis16suarez. Next time you’re hungry just grab a Snickers.” This got retweeted over 48,000 times! With 140 characters Snicker got more mileage out of the event than a lot of the official partners did. This is exactly why businesses love the second screen phenomenon.
Fans on the other hand appear to love the second screen because it makes sports viewing a social event, unlike the passive experience it is when you are just sitting in front of the television. Sports as an activity, unlike reading or watching a movie, is always enjoyed best with company. The more the merrier. This is why watching a game on TV is more fun with friends and going to the stadium is even more fun. Thanks to social media though, you could be sitting in your living room alone but thanks to the hashtag or the share button you are instantly connected to millions of other fans, globally. It is a big party and we all celebrate, rant and cry together.
Besides, the modern sports fan is forever hungry for triva and the second screen helps satiate this hunger to a large extent. All stats and records are available at your fingertips. Though the biggest benefit of the second screen is it helps the sports fanatic to be in two places at once. I know enough people who were watching the FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon simultaneously all thanks to the power of the second screen.
Recently, Sean Casey, senior vice president at Nielsen stated “sports events account for 2-to-3 percent of television programming every month. Yet that small amount produces roughly 50 percent of Twitter’s overall activity around TV.”
Sports is leading the charge for WildStar Gold second screen adoption. The 2014 World Cup was simply the biggest beneficiary so far.
In terms of online entertainment, the World Cup seemed to have it all.
There was a cannibalistic Luis Suarez. Tim Howard saving … well … everything. Sad Brazilians. And Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair.
Oh, yeah … and the actual matches, which saw the U.S. team make an inspiring run, the powerhouse Brazilians unravel in shocking fashion and the Germans ultimately capture first prize on Sunday.
The month-long spectacle also captured another prize: It’s now the biggest social event in Web history.
On Facebook, Sunday’s final between Germany and Argentina alone spurred 280 million interactions by 88 million people, according to the company. That easily surpassed the former champ, last year’s Super Bowl, with its 245 million interactions.
Things were similarly fast and furious on Twitter, where the match was inspiring more than 618,000 tweets per minute, a new record for the site. There were a total of 32.1 million tweets about the match.
Take those numbers and tack them onto the huge online engagement the tournament had already inspired and it’s a no-brainer that Brazil 2014 enjoyed online fandom like no event before it.
From June 12 to July 13, 350 million people generated a massive 3 billion World Cup posts, comments and likes, according to Facebok.
In just its first week, from June 12-18, the tournament inspired 459 million Facebook interactions — more than this year’s Super Bowl, the Academy Awards in March and the Sochi Winter Olympics combined.
FIFA, international soccer’s ruling body, says that more than 1 billion people engaged with World Cup content through its website, social media accounts and mobile app.
The official FIFA app became the biggest sports-event app ever, with 28 million downloads, 451 million Facebook users were reached by FIFA’s page and its Instagram account rocketed from 42,000 followers to nearly 1 million in 31 days.
“This has been the first truly mobile and social World Cup,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter said. “The 1 billion attendance in the global stadium created the sense of togetherness the World Cup brings and the shared excitement that digital platforms offer.”
Certainly, the global appeal of the World Cup played a huge part in the tournament’s popularity. But the big numbers were clearly being bolstered by growing interest in the United States, one of the few nations where soccer isn’t, hands-down, the most popular sport.
During Sunday’s final, 10.5 million of the people engaged on Facebook were from the United States. Compare that to the 7 million people in Argentina and 5 million in Germany, the match’s actual participants, and you can see that U.S. interest in the tourney didn’t disappear when the American side bowed out.
In the 28 days before the U.S. team lost to Belgium in the knockout round, 36.7 million U.S. fans engaged with the World Cup’s online properties, a spokesman for the organization said. That’s 11.2% of the country’s population and accounted for 23% of the total activity during that time.
In all, 42 million U.S. fans visited FIFA Web and mobile tools during the entire tournament.
As the U.S. men’s team played its way out of a tough opening-round group that included Germany, Portugal and Ghana, U.S. Web users spent a total of 847 years and 143 days engaged with FIFA content. That’s more than soccer-crazy rivals Brazil, Germany, England and France combined.
“The popularity of the World Cup in the USA shows what a nation of sports lovers and enthusiasts they are,” Blatter said.
“The carnival atmosphere experienced at the World Cup viewing parties, where fans filled whole city blocks across the U.S., shows the passion that Jürgen Klinsmann’s side has instilled in U.S. sports fans.”