With the FIFA World Cup 2014 in full swing, this is a good time for a blog post about what the FIFA World Cup means to Australia and Melbourne.

King for a Day (or a few weeks to be exact)

With the indigenous Aussie Rules or AFL the dominant spectator sport in Melbourne, football (also called soccer locally) normally takes a back seat in terms of media coverage. Which is really odd as football is by far the sport with the highest participation numbers. Somehow, it doesn’t translate to spectators on ground.

However, every four years when the FIFA World Cup swings around, football steps into the limelight and leads the sports news. Friendly office betting pools are run and sleep deprived bleary eyed workers are abound in the CBD. The World Game is the topic of the day at office kitchens and local pubs.

This is especially so during the Australia games and when the national team – the Socceroos – perform well. And this was none more evident than during the 2010 World Cup when Australia got past the group stages and only lost to Italy – the eventual winners – by the most dubious of penalty decisions. The whole nation was behind the team with thousands out on a cold night watch the game from big screens erected around the country.

Free TV coverage!

Yes, you heard it – watching the FIFA World Cup 2014 is FREE in Australia!

Because of the fantastic anti-siphoning laws that came into effect in 2006, Pay TV providers are not allowed to exclusive rights to a list of sporting events – of which the FIFA World Cup is one of them – unless the rights are not taken up by a national or commercial television broadcasters.

Some other major sporting events on the anti-siphoning list include:

  • Olympic Games
  • Commonwealth Games
  • FA Cup Final
  • Rugby World Cup
  • Melbourne Cup Horse Race
  • Cricket World Cup

This means no scenes at pubs like this crazy queue outside a pub just to get in and watch the game!

Pub Queue to watch FIFA World Cup Football

And with the season and time difference, you get to watch the games in the warm comfort of your home on a cold Winter’s night at 2 am in the morning!

Another great reason to move to Melbourne & Australia!

Last words …

While football has someway to go before it becomes the #1 sport in Australia, it is well on its way and the sport is making leaps and bounds every year. And the FIFA World Cup is a very big factor and strong boost to the game’s profile in Australia.

Enough for me now. Time to catch some much needed ZZZZZZs and wake up later for more FIFA World Cup Football!

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