While anticipation for the tournament itself is as high as always—you could hold it on the Moon and fans of the 32 nations taking part would still be glued to their seats—excitement for the World Cup as an event, one which fans travel the world over to attend and celebrate on the ground, is not even in the same ballpark as we’ve seen for other World Cups in Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the USA, South Africa or Brazil.
In France, the biggest supporter group of the national team say “their travelling party would only be one-sixth of their size in Russia”. Where 5000 Dutch fans travelled to Russia in 2018—itself a massively controversial tournament!—only 3000 are going to Qatar. While the cost of living crisis in Europe and lingering Covid concerns are also contributors to this, Qatar’s human rights record, visitor restrictions and security concerns have also been cited by fans as reasons they’ll be staying at home.
EA Sports is about to release an official World Cup mode for its flagship sports series FIFA 23, and while the download itself looks fantastic—you can play the whole tournament, recreate games based on their matchday squads and recreate history by slotting in teams that didn’t actually qualify—there’s a big segment in the middle that is (unsurprisingly) off.
It’s all about the “matchday experience”, a segment I’ve setup to autoplay below. Keep everything I’ve just said in mind as you watch these digital fans joyfully mingling and partying in the streets:
FIFA 23 | Official FIFA World Cup Deep Dive Trailer