In Germany, interest in the World Cup in Qatar is low. The TV ratings have fallen drastically in comparison. However, this is not exemplary for other countries. FIFA is happy.
Late in the evening after the national team’s desolate World Cup start, individual German fans fought their way down the escalators to the “Sport City” subway station.
The trip to the Chalifa stadium for the 2-1 draw against Japan was not worth it for the game or the atmosphere. In the meantime it was eerily quiet in the arena – in Germany the general mood was reflected in a drastically reduced audience for the football highlight.
On average, less than ten million viewers watched the German opening game on ARD (9.230 million), as calculated by AGF Videoforschung. This resulted in a market share of 59.7 percent. The differences compared to the World Cup in summer 2018 in Russia are striking. Even if the streaming offer was significantly larger in 2022 and the kick-off time at 2:00 p.m. CET was even less football-friendly. Imagine it’s the World Cup and nobody’s looking?
Fewer German fans on site
According to surveys, the massive criticism of the host Qatar because of the human rights situation in the country had already significantly reduced the anticipation of the tournament. The fans in jerseys and with the German flag traveled to the region in significantly smaller numbers, the members of the “Fan Club National Team” fly in from Dubai for every game. Loud calls to at least boycott the World Cup in person in front of the TV or streaming device echoed through the Internet on the first few days of the game.
“The World Cup, as it is currently presented, will definitely not be a success, that’s already clear, and it will definitely damage football as a whole,” said Uli Hoeneß “RTL Direkt” and the “RTL Nachtjournal spezial”. . The “damage can already be seen” in the quotas.
For the moment, however, this is initially very focused on Germany and Great Britain, where interest has also fallen. In France, calls for a boycott did not have much of an effect. The Bleus’ first game on Tuesday night was watched by 12.5 million viewers – 12.6 million had watched the French team’s first game in 2018. Even in Italy, which did not qualify, decent quotas were achieved, the German 1: 2 against Japan saw around 2.2 million Italians for a market share of 19.3 percent early on Wednesday afternoon.
Outside Europe, the mood for the World Cup and Qatar is different anyway. In Argentina, the anticipation was much greater, there are critical reports, but by no means to the German extent. Ahead of the game against Saudi Arabia, superstar Lionel Messi’s promotional connections to the region were written about. But rainbow or “One Love”? If anything, a side issue. Tens of thousands of fans have also traveled to Qatar from countries such as Argentina and Mexico, while supporters of European teams are almost always outnumbered in Qatar’s stadiums.
Enthusiasm greater outside of Europe
In North Africa – for example in Tunisia or in Egypt, which did not qualify – the enthusiasm for the World Cup is huge. During Tunisia’s first game on Tuesday, the streets in the capital Tunis were deserted – but the many cafés with live broadcasts were packed. The World Cup award to Qatar, accompanied by scandals, is hardly an issue. In Egypt countless people watch the games in cafés or on screens in shopping malls.
If you want, you can take the German rate as evidence of an increased awareness of socio-political issues. In 2018, more than 25 million people watched the ARD and ZDF broadcasts of the three group games of the German teams, not including the fans at the public viewing. The market shares were between 76.3 and 87.4 percent. Even the game against South Korea on a Wednesday at 4 p.m. CEST was watched by 25.44 million viewers. And Russia was anything but a model host.
FIFA boasted on Thursday that “early numbers” suggest the World Cup is “as popular as ever”. Reference was made to strong ratings in Brazil and Ecuador, for example. The German numbers were not mentioned.