The World Cup is finally underway. The men’s Football World Cup is the biggest single event sport on the planet, and with tens of billions of TV viewers across the globe, attention is firmly on Russia. With 64 games over 32 days there is plenty of live action, debate, and speculation all leading to the final in the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, July 15.
The FIFA World Cup is the most obvious demonstration of football development and the huge organisational effort which scales well beyond the 32-day competition. Every four years, influenced by political landscapes, news cycles and even players’ choices of tattoo, a plethora of hot topics rise up for discussion.
Here are my top eight ideas for dissertation topics, all inspired by the current World Cup frenzy:
- The huge and obvious interest from the public and the media. Has Gareth Southgate’s careful management of the notoriously hostile British press cooled national expectation?
- Judging by this week’s celebrations in Plymouth following Harry Kane’s late winner against Tunisia, England still expects. The line between jubilant celebrations and antisocial behaviour is one which seems frequently crossed when England take part in major tournaments, and certainly deserves further academic attention.
- Is the ‘England DNA’ coaching development philosophy of the FA beginning to bear fruit?
- What does Harry Kane’s journey, from grass-roots goalkeeper, through academies of pro football (including being released by Arsenal), to captain of the national team tell us about our development of players in England?
- The development and introduction of VAR: Have technological advancements created as many controversies as they were meant to solve?
- The controversies of FIFA’s governance and allegations of corruption continue to lurk just beneath the surface in Russia.
- Russia’s projection of power through hosting of major sporting competitions has now been demonstrated through the Sochi Winter Olympics and the World Cup. With sport ever-politicised in the modern era, what next for Russia and the rest of the world?
- Russia’s significant financial investment the infrastructure and stadia development has led to speculation of the true costs. Does it highlight that only countries with very deep pockets have the financial might to pursue host mega events? What does it say about human ethics when countries with well-documented human rights issues win bids to host huge events on the world stage?
Despite its controversies, little can unite the country like a football World Cup. England can bring together the casual and die-hard fans; the armchair pundit and the serious coach. How many conversations with friends and family resolve around making plans to watch England’s fixtures, watching the games, and discussing the outcome and key talking points?
Football as a force for good is harnessed by local community clubs and organisations such the Argyle Community Trust and Devon FA, working in partnership with us on our Football and Sport Development degrees, to help develop the sport and improve communities through football. England’s inevitable roller-coaster at World Cups has got off to a winning start, but it’s far more than just a game!