Reaching the Goal
This thesis examines the various ways in which cultures across the world have used the game of soccer, or football, as a cultural unifier. With minimal equipment and simple rules, football is universally understood and globally popular. The uniting and inspiring power of football reaches its peak every four years during the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup. The tournament pits 32 of the world‘s best national football teams against one another in a dramatic and wildly popular contest that declares one team the World Champion. Despite the competition on the field of play, the bidding process to win the privilege to host the FIFA World Cup is equally intense. Nations across the world vie for the chance to host one of the world‘s biggest and most prestigious sporting events, seemingly in the hopes of boosting the nation‘s economy. Scholarly research, however, claims that hosting a World Cup has a negligible, and sometimes even negative, effect on the host nation. Why, then, do nations bid so fiercely to host the World Cup? This thesis posits that the host nation is not primarily concerned with earning money, but with accruing ―social profitability‖ from hosting the tournament. The intangible benefits to hosting the World Cup include situating the nation as a world class destination for business, trade, and travel. Further, hosting the World Cup gives the host nation the chance to showcase its unique culture to the world, while fostering peace, unity, and fair play across the globe in celebration of the beautiful game, football.