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.

GERMANY TO FORE IN RESISTING BAN ON EXPRESSION

Germany kick off their World Cup campaign against Japan today. The world wil be watching to see if they become the first European country to defy FIFA’s ban on the One Love armband or similar expressions of support for the LGBTQ+ community.

The German FA was yesterday exploring the potential of a legal challenge to the ban.

Suggestions have been coming thick and fast on how a statement could still be made to avoid the perception that football values are not worth more than the receipt of a yellow card in a game. Rainbow boots or laces would be a potential way to make a mark as FIFA does not control the footwear of individual players.

Supermarket brand REWE withdrew its campaign with the Geerman FA yesterday in protest at their falling into line with other European countries. Deutsche Telekom, another major commercial partner has also said it is to hold talks with the FA.

IRISH DREAMING

What if a little girl made a wish that saw Ireland qualify for the World Cup?

Romy is a 10-year-old girl who lives with a football-mad family. Her father happens to be the kit man for the Irish football team. All hell breaks loose when she wishes for Ireland to qualify for the World Cup…and her wish comes true.

Romy’s World Cup Wish is a 5-part radio drama with Episode 1 dropping Monday 21st November and a new episode landing every Monday for four weeks. The Final episode will drop on Sunday 18th December (World Cup Final Day).

The main role of Romy is played by Sadhbh Marshall Coghlan and Roy Mac Giolla Phádraig stars as her long-suffering brother Elliott.

RTÉ Football Correspondent Tony O’Donoghue stars as the narrator while Mario Rosenstock provides the voices of Romy’s inner voices Obi-Roy-Keano-Boi and Graeme (Souness). He also voices Stephen Kenny, Richie Sadlier, Brian Kerr and Eamon Dunphy.

Bryan Dobson, Sharon Tobin, Des Cahill, Reem El -Hassany and Jacqui Hurley all make cameos as themselves!

Listen to Romy’s World Cup Wish on RTÉjr Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from Monday 21st November to see what happens.

PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY

They had three goals disallowed in the first half but Argentina were put firmly in their place by Saudi Arabia whose second half blend of attacke and off-the-line defence gave them a deserved win.

THE GREATEST WORLD CUP SHOCK OF ALL TIME

Gracenote from Nielsen is providing content and analysis on the World Cup and after Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina they were able to update their list of the greatest all time shocks.

Despite Argentina taking the lead and dominating the match, they were shocked by two Saudi Arabia goals in five minutes just after half-time. First Alsehri scored with a great finish after a through ball from midfield had put him in. Then Aldawsari gave Argentina the lead with a fantastic curling effort from just inside the box.

Well over 45 minutes was played after the second Saudi Arabia goal, including 14 minutes of second half injury time but Argentina were unable to find a response and the greatest ever World Cup shock was a fact. Before the game, Gracenote’s algorithms had given Saudi an 8.7% chance of winning

It has overtaken the USA’s 1-0 win over England in 1950, Switzerland’s 1-0 win over Spain in 2010 and Algeria’s 2-1 win over West Germany in 1982 at the top of the pile.

Northern Ireland’s win over Spain in that same year is in at number Nine having had a 16.5% chance of happening

TODAY’S SPONSOR IN THE SPOTLIGHT – VIVO

VIVO is the Official Smartphone of the World Cup, a position it is repeating after being so for the first time at Russia 2018.

Vivo’s previous involvement in sport includes the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League cricket competition and a strategic partnership with the NBA to become NBA China’s official mobile handset sponsor.

It is the third of the major partners to come out of China.

The company has launched a new model in China to coincide with the tournament, one which through technology uses 30 percent less power than previously.

It is activating through a #GiveItAShot campaign that is strong on TikTok.