The world’s most widely viewed sporting event, the FIFA World Cup, reached 3.2 billion views, with one billion on the final game alone, in 2014. Dating back to 1930, it’s a time when players all over the world sport their home-country colors and multimillion-dollar TV contracts are inked (Fox acquired the $425M rights to the 350-hour programming in the U.S. for the 2018 World Cup).
Of the 32 teams preparing for the 2018 event, some of the most prominent football countries in the world will be missing—including the Netherlands, Chile, United States and, for the first time since 1958, the 2006 World Cup Champions, Italy.
With the “apocalyptic”, and shocking, knockout of Italy by Sweden, devastation hit super fans, and is projected to do the same for the economy. According to Bloomberg, it’s estimated that the failed qualification may cost the country €1 billion. This hit to Italy comes during a time of political upheaval and slow economic growth out of a long recession. The 2006 World Cup victory was noted to have contributed to a spike in both employment and the country’s gross domestic product. For many, that feels far from the reality of today despite the country’s improving economy.
But not all will be lost for Italia. While there will be a decline in Italian ad sales, jerseys and televisions, smaller bar tabs, and less flights and vacation packages to Russia, there will likely be 45.3 million less Italian eyes on screens during work hours—maybe resulting in a positive economic impact after all.
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