The World Cup of media phenomena

Good friends of our blog, it’s been a nice ride. France have won the championship with undeniable performances from their midfield and attack, but the reflection here on the World Cup revolves around a retrospective regarding the communications. Those who have followed this Cup minimally have probably noticed a latent difference that has been occurring in comparison with the other World Cups: the influence of the internet and the universe of social media in football. To summarize in a single expression, the emergence of the “media phenomena”.

Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi are media influencers. It makes sense when we consider them as the three biggest football players today – arguably, since Neymar isn’t even on FIFA Top 10 Players in 2018. The level is so high that they practically surpass the barrier of players and reach the status of pop stars, even more in the Portuguese translation – they are stars with gigantic popular appeal. But they are far from being the only ones to be present in this role of “media.” Nor do they fit into the logic of modern times, due to two major factors.

  • They are publicly known worldwide;
  • They have a career that puts them high in the media for an extended time.

In the present times, strangers can reach the level of media phenomena. Are you going to say you dont remember siblings singing “Para nossa alegria”? Or Luiza, who was in Canada? What about “Rei do Camarote”? They are people once common, who have turned into celebrities overnight. The instantaneous is part of this context, which makes people like Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi “non-standard personas”, exceptions.

Media Phenomena – The negative side

The difference that marked the 2018 World Cup was not just inside the field. In Russian lands, football was marked by tactical application, physical strength and goals from free and corner kicks. Among the media phenomena, one case became world famous. On the downside, unfortunately. It was June 16, just the third day of the tournament, when a video began to viralize on social media.

Even prior to the debut of the Canarinho (Little Canary, in English) team, a group of Brazilian supporters took advantage of the lack of knowledge from a Russian woman on the Portuguese language and made her sing a song about her own sexual organ. After watching to the sexist harassment, published by the fans themselves who were singing with the Russian woman, the Russian Interior Ministry decided to open a formal inquiry against those Brazilians.

The video has gone viral. With totally unknown people, thousands of miles away from their homeland. Why? Despite the geographical distance and borders, the internet and social media have exactly come in the opposite direction. The lack of borders in the digital world means that “we’re all media” in current days. And we’re also spectators at the same time.

With just a cell phone in hand, we have a tool capable of transmitting what is happening in real time around us to the whole world. That was just the case. The video published in the social media of mere strangers was not only watched by their social circles – friends and relatives. A lot far from it actually. In a few hours and after countless shares, millions of people had already watched and criticized the action of the Brazilian supporters. In the same day, many people were asking for some kind of punishment. You must be very careful about your own reputation and the image of your company. Years are taken to build a brand, while seconds can ruin it. Quoting Warren Buffett: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”.

Media Phenomena – When you’re already famous…

However, those would not be the only Brazilians to enter the roll of media phenomena and get into the spotlight. Neymar, the ace and superstar of the five-times champion national team, dreamed of being the best player in the tournament. He still does, by the way. The owner of jersey 10, once used by Pelé, was fantasizing to be the most quoted name in the world in June and July, but definitely did not expect it to be for the reason that made him so mentioned.

The excess of dives and twists in the field made Neymar criticized globally. However, there was somewhat of a certain plot twist. The criticism was completely transformed. It turned into a joke, especially after the elimination of Brazil to Belgium in the quarterfinals. The theatrical dives and injury fakes on the ground have earned countless memes worldwide, as you may see in the video below.

Coming back from an injury, the player made a great effort to be able to participate in all games. He was clearly not 100% recovered in the debut of Brazil. Probably wasn’t 100% during next two games as well. Neymar has always used this feature because he has a smaller physical size than many opponents. To dive has always been a way of protecting himself and not taking an even harder tackle. However, and even suffering numerous fouls throughout the games, the scandalous dives have earned the player the nickname “Neydive” with hashtags being written by users worldwide.


The case of Neymar is curious. The player is a mega star, unlike the Brazilian supporters who published the video in Russia. Not only that. His dives were the ones that entered the same level of “media phenomena”, and not Neymar himself. Those memes remember, to a certain extent, the famous dance of “Harlem Shake” or the challenge of “Ice Bucket”. People from all over the world stepped in and joined the videos. But the wave passed eventually.

With just 26 years of age and a tremendous talent, he has clear opportunities to change his own destiny. And may have his name commented globally because of his talent and not by such dives or injuries faking. Who knows? He could be probably on the next season, winning the next Champions League as the Paris Saint-German (PSG) ace. After all, in a world where the ephemeral is remarkable, the 2022 Cup is still too far from our eyes.

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