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Who is really winning the World Cup? by Louis Walters

Vintage Subbuteo miniature toy of a football player

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In case you haven’t heard, it’s coming home. World Cup fever has swept the nation, with retro England shirts aplenty, New Order blasting from back gardens and Liam Gallagher appearing on every festival bill in the country making it feel all very circa 1990s.

Just like a scorned lover, I’m trying to forget about the past, think positive thoughts and head down the pub at any given opportunity. But I’m not getting carried away (much), so here’s an alternative list of those who have already won the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’.

Robbie Williams

Now, I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t expecting the first performance by an Englishman at the World Cup to be in the shape of a forty-year-old ex-boyband member from Stoke, but I can dare to dream. Eyebrows were raised and heads scratched when the Russians chose Robbie to open their ceremony, with the whole world watching. Turns out, Robbie is massive over there, adored by many Russian powerhouses and has performed at private events and weddings for years. He’s even acquainted with Chelsea’s billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich (let the thought of that conversation sink in). In fairness to Robbie, he pulled his finger out (literally) and put on a pretty good show, odd as it was.

‘World Cup’ brands

Advertising and sponsorship is one of the key financial benefits from the World Cup. With a thirty second Superbowl ad costing upwards of $5 million, viewing figures for the tournament are expected to be around thirty times that. So, expect the big bucks to be pouring in from the likes of Coke, Adidas and McDonalds. For weeks we’ve been bombarded with Lidl adverts featuring the England team and Lionel Messi drinking a Pepsi Max in a packed square, all whilst ignoring the irony of ‘McDelivery’ promos on the pitch side advertising boards. As a result, FIFA have imposed a ban on marketing with things such as “World Cup”, “FIFA World Cup” and “Russia 2018” without official licensing. Ah well, it won’t deter me from ordering in a Quarter Pounder once the semis of the 2018 Global Chalice come around.

Russia’s image

The biggest concern leading up to the tournament was Russia itself. After being banned from the Winter Olympics for doping allegations and hooliganism during Euro 2016, the country was in need of some good PR. So far though, it’s been a success. No reports of violence, the cities and stadiums all look great and people have even been taught in local colleges how to interact with tourists. What better way to forget about the recent political hostilities than a thirty-yard half volley? At least that’s the end of it for potentially corrupt World Cup bidding, roll on Qatar 2022…

Drinking spots

The drinks trade will be thriving even more this summer, with pubs and bars pulling out all the stops to attract the punters. From the Norfolk landlord who erected a £5,000 stand in his pub garden to the multitude of trendy ticketed pop ups across London, venues can all expect a portion of the £488 million influx. What’s interesting though is what we are drinking, with Greene King claiming sales increase by as much as 100% for drinks such as Craft Beer and Gin . This, as well as the extra 500,000 pints sold during England’s win over Panama, just goes to prove that Harry Kane isn’t just leading us to World Cup glory, but out of austerity as well.

Waistcoats

Not only has Gareth Southgate got us all excited about his young, fearless England team, he’s also become a fashion icon in the process. The former defender and famed penalty-misser is no longer just working on his teams’ transitional play, but also on his wardrobe. Marks & Spencer, the retailer that designs England’s suits, has seen a 35% rise in its sales of waistcoats and is attributing it to the England boss’ dugout attire. This subtle touch of class, when paired with the tremendous risk of sporting a navy shirt in twenty-five-degree heat, has captured the nation. If the England squad is to go out, rest assured it will be in style.

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