FIFA 2014 world cup

Social media giant Facebook revealed Tuesday the most talked about topics of 2014 around the world with the main topic the World Cup.  Other topics in the list included the Gaza conflict, the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Ebola Virus as well as Sochi Winter Olympics.

It took more than 120 minutes and a goal in extra time, but Germany emerged as the World Cup champion with a 1-0 win over Argentina on Saturday. Once the game ended, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro was illuminated in German colors, and Twitter was abuzz with responses to the tournament’s final game.

Sunday’s final concluded a monthlong tournament that presented a jarring contrast between Brazil’s hosting of the tournament and its achievement on the field. The World Cup was well organized despite fears that it would be chaotic. The Brazilian people were hospitable. The soccer was largely attractive and attacking. Some have called this the best World Cup in recent memory. Soccer became so absorbing that widespread protests - against perceived wasteful spending on the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics - did not occur after undermining a warm-up tournament last year.

After a month of football in a country where the sport is regarded a religion, we look at how the World Cup has affected the volatile political situation in Brazil and what will happen now that the tournament has come to an end.

In 2011 Achref Aouadi and his friends, who fought for “Bread, freedom and human dignity!” during the revolution, established I Watch, a youth watchdog fighting against corruption on all levels of society. “We declared Sunday 13 July as National Voter Registration Day, and it has been really viral across social media,” explains Aouadi.

The Israeli government welcomed the opportunity to extend its soft power over neighbouring Arab countries. "I hear that many football fans in the region [are] watching World Cup games broadcast live on Israeli channels. Welcome," tweeted Ofir Gendelman, Arabic spokesman for the Israeli prime minister. Warming to his theme, Gendelman then released a list of Hebrew football terms, translated into Arabic. The move prompted a small backlash inside Egypt, where one former general warned that the Israeli channel might constitute a threat to Egyptian national security. 

For a country that staked its political future on projecting soft power by using the World Cup as a means of promoting national unity, that decision now appears to have been misplaced. Brazil must now assume the risk of letting its citizens decide how best to create a nation that provides opportunities for all with greater public security and less inequality for those who really want to create a zone of peace in South America. 

As the Brazil team has come spectacularly undone in the World Cup, the pain for the host country has been compounded by the prospect that its hated rival, Argentina, could still lift the championship trophy on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro’s fabled Estádio do Maracanã, after Argentina won a tense semifinal against the Netherlands in a penalty shootout on Wednesday afternoon. The tens of thousands of Argentine fans who have invaded Brazil to cheer for their team, and taunt their hosts, brought with them a song that predicts not just triumph for Argentina, but deep humiliation for Brazil.