The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event of the year and the largest sports marketing exercise since the last World Cup.

It is also a lot more besides, a cultural battleground at times, a clash of east and west, a case study in the power of money, and the most controversial sporting competition since the apartheid days in South Africa.

Our job is to bring the stories of what is happening off the field of play to the attention of our Sport for Business readers.

FAN NUMBERS SPIRALLING

Yesterday we drew attention to the fact that the official attendance at the opening game had exceeded the stated capacity of the ground by 7,372.

It was the first in a trend with each of yesterday’s three games also playing loose with the figures. The capacity of each ground was said to be 40,000 but the three games were then said to be being watched by 41,721, 45,334, and 43,312.

One of the many quirks it has to be said.

PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY

That has to be the England team who were 3-0 up by halftime and ended up scoring six. That is over half the total number of goals scored in six games at the Euro 2021 Finals in England and has fans and media at home beginning to wonder…

TODAY’S SPONSOR IN THE SPOTLIGHT – HYUNDAI / KIA

Hyundai became an official sponsor of THE FIFA World Cup in 2002, and has been involved in each renewal of the tournament since.

The current deal runs through to this tournament in Qatar.

The sponsorship package has included comprehensive rights for all FIFA competitions, including the FIFA Women’s World Cup, FIFA U-20 and U-17 World Cup tournaments for both female and male players, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, FIFA eWorld Cup, FIFA Futsal World Cup, and the FIFA Confederations Cup.

On the ground it is the official transportation partner of the tournament, ferrying officials around the City.

It is active in the online space with a Goal of the Century Pledge and sponsorship of the Match Prediction gaming element of the FIFA+ channels. Steven Gerrard is an ambassador for the activations.

By virtue of being a Global Partner, it also has first refusal on the broadcast sponsorship within local markets and has taken this up for the RTÉ coverage.

LGBTQ+ RIGHTS IN THE CENTRE OF THE STORM

The ability of sport to provide a platform for protest has been central to this World Cup and we cover this in detail elsewhere on the Sport for Business website yesterday and today.

WATER LABELS

There were reports yesterday of fans and media being forced to take water bottles out of their bags and have the labels removed from those that were not part of the Coca-Cola brands that are the official bottled waters of the tournament.

Not the biggest hardship and one that can be justified on the basis of protecting the rights of the sponsors, but in a tournament where everyone is on edge, another reason to get angry.

TICKETING TRAUMA

Hundreds of England fans and doubtless fans of other countries as well were stranded outside of grounds yesterday as the ticketing system crashed. Tickets stored within the FIFA app ‘disappeared’ from phones and the backup communication appears to have left a lot to be desired.

It is not known whether the issues were related to any particular brand of smartphone or whether they happened to those who had VIVO smartphones, the official Smartphone of the World Cup. That would be a step too far though wouldn’t it to claim that it was your fault because you had a non-official smartphone…