On the eve of the US Soccer team’s pivotal match against Germany, avid soccer fans and newcomers to the game alike are gearing up for what might be the social media event of the year. Or, at least, it might be the US social media event of the year. During Sunday’s game against Portugal, US Midfielder Clint Dempsey was mentioned 465,000 times on Twitter. That’s nearly 500,000 mentions in a little over two hours.
With social media stats like this popping up all over the Internet, I thought it would be fun to examine why there is so much buzz around soccer’s biggest event. Here are a few thoughts I have on the matter.
Content that unifies
The World Cup is just what it says in its name. It’s an event, like the Olympics, that brings together a large portion of the world to cheer for their country’s athletic heroes. The country that claims the ultimate prize has bragging rights for four full years. Yes, there are other tournaments and plenty of matches held in between, but none hold the same clout as winning the World Cup.
It’s a matter of national pride. We want to tell the world how much we support not only our team, but our entire country. This isn’t like content created around a college team or pro team. This is content that unifies a people and showcases some of the best athletes in the world representing their country.
Content like this gives a brief respite from issues such as the turmoil that countries like Colombia are battling at home. It brings together a world that doesn’t always get along and offers us a moment to reflect on our similarities rather than our differences. The stories that surround this event inspire us, teach us lessons in equality and provide us with a glimpse into the lives of people thousands of miles away.
Truth is stranger than fiction
The stories surrounding the World Cup are almost too good to be true. Did you know that there’s a vampire playing in the event? Well, not really, but there is a guy that has vampiric tendencies. Uruguay striker, Luis Suarez, is creating quite a buzz about whether or not he intentionally bit down on the shoulder of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
“Maybe it was an accident,” you say. The problem with that theory is that there is precedence for the notion that this wasn’t an accident. Suarez was suspended for a number of games just a little over a year ago while playing with Liverpool. Does all this mean that he is a vampire? Probably not, but it’s worth investigating and has sparked some intriguing vampire-related content that’s triggering all sorts of social media commentary.
Emotional ups and downs
We’ve all gotten in trouble at some point for sending an emotionally inspired text message or social media post that we later regretted. While soccer fans probably aren’t regretting their chatter over the last few weeks, a lot of it has been inspired by sheer emotion. Twitter exploded as the US team scored to go ahead of Portugal at the 81st minute, only to explode again just 14 minutes later as Christiano Ronaldo’s ‘perfect’ pass led to teammate Varela knocking home the tying goal with just seconds left in the match.
Fans of the US Soccer team didn’t hold their emotions back. They took to Twitter to make the world aware of their disappointment. Even Superman and his crew weren’t exempt from the emotional outpour.
Love to hate
All sports have players that we love to shower with disdain. Maybe it’s jealousy, or maybe they draw too much attention to themselves with a ridiculous media circus. Or maybe it’s just a certain vanity that some players exude.
If you’ve been watching the World Cup and you caught the US game against Portugal, you might guess that I’m referring to the extreme mix of praise and criticism that Christiano Ronaldo receives. There is no doubt that he’s a great player, but it wouldn’t be difficult for you to find a few hundred thousand people that would tell you otherwise or loudly voice how much they despise him.
Whether warranted or not, there will be players in the World Cup whose sheer existence polarizes fans. Ronaldo was tweeted about nearly 1.5 million times during the match against the US. The tweets were a widely varied mixture of praise and criticism. Whatever your opinion of the soccer star might be, you’ve been busy voicing it loudly on social media. These types of conversations spark debate and controversy, which lead to great content for social media browsing.
Whatever your reason is for watching the World Cup, if you’re tweeting about your favorite moments or getting involved in the conversation in some way, you are joining in something that is much bigger than just the game. Enjoy the remaining group matches, and hopefully the knock-out stage will be equally exciting and engaging on the field and on social media.
What makes you join the World Cup conversation on Twitter and what content has resonated with you most? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Anthony Gaenzle – Director of Marketing