The football World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, with billions tuning in to watch the finest international teams in the world compete for the ultimate prize in the game.
Ever since the first World Cup in 1930, teams from across the globe have come together to battle for the most precious prize of all. The 2018 tournament took place in Russia and boasted 3.5 billion viewers, according to the Independent. Of that figure, 1.1 billion tuned in to at least one minute of the final, which saw France beat Croatia 4-2.
The next big physical tournament in terms of viewing figures was set to be the Euro 2020 event, but that had to be canceled as part of the current world situation. Losing that competition was a blow to football fans, but it has made way for another behemoth of gaming to take its place: eSports. Football fans have got their fix of the beautiful game from various eSports tournaments, mostly taking place on their FIFA 20 title.
Big-name stars such as Trent Alexander Arnold have been involved, as well as teams from across the globe such as Paris St. Germain, paving the way for the eWorld Cup to become potentially even bigger. A guide to virtual football by Bwin states that the eWorld Cup is the ultimate prize that all players are chasing as they try and qualify for it through competing in different tournaments. The first FIFA eWorld Cup attracted 29 million viewers, a figure which increased to 47 million the following year as 21 broadcasters showed games in more than 75 territories worldwide. The online auction was streamed in six alternative languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. The 2020 tournament, unaffected by the recent situation, is set for even better figures once again, as Electronic Arts target exponential growth.
“EA made a significant investment over three years ago to accelerate the growth of competitive FIFA,” FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner Brent Koning told Goal. “We’ve created the FIFA Global Series on the path to the eWorld Cup to allow us to invest more time and resources to grow the global digital sport of football.
“Our future is going to come down to how well we can provide access to people who want really engaging content. The Stay and Play Cup brought 20 of the top clubs in the world together and it was broadcast to over 115 countries. There is not a whole lot of groups that can do that. It comes down to access and giving content to fans where they want to see it.”
Is the eWorld Cup on track to become bigger than the actual World Cup? If viewing figures continue to grow at the rate of 60%, then it would be on course to have just over 3.2 billion viewers by the time the 2028 tournament kicked off. However, with the increased exposure and developing technology, there is every chance it could grow at a quicker rate, potentially setting it on a path to rival the physical tournament, expected to take place in December 2022 in Qatar.