YESTERDAY morning, I watched England take on Belgium in their final game in Group G of the World Cup.
It was a mathematically intriguing game despite both teams having already qualified for the last 16. I wanted to know whether England would play for a win, a draw or a loss.
I watched the match on my tablet. In the first five minutes, given the way England played, it looked like the players weren’t interested in winning the match.
Then I got distracted. I wanted to know the permutations if England won, lost or drew. So, I Googled it on my smartphone.
According to theguardian.com, the winner of Group G will face Japan in the second round, and if they beat Japan, they will next meet the winner of the Brazil vs Mexico game.
Second place in Group G means an encounter with Colombia in the next round and a theoretically easier path to the semifinals because if that runner-up team sweeps aside Colombia, they will then go up against Sweden or Switzerland in the quarter-finals.
If England wanted to play “easier” teams to reach the World Cup final, it was better to lose to Belgium and end up as the runner-up in Group G.
Instead of watching the game live on my tablet, I decided to write this column on my tablet and occasionally “watched” the game on my smartphone by reading The Guardian’s minute-by-minute report.
I also clicked on Twitter to check out “World Cup Hot Girls” and went on Facebook to see what my friends have posted on the World Cup.
Since World Cup 2010, which was held in South Africa, I have changed my habit of watching football.
Since the boom of the Internet and smartphones, I have not watched a football match for the full 90 minutes. I can talk as if I’ve watched the whole game by reading match reports on the Internet and watching highlights on YouTube.
Gone are the days when I watched football matches on television. I’ve got a 52-inch TV but I would rather watch a big match on the small screen (of my tablet or smartphone).
Also gone are the days when I couldn’t take my eyes off the TV screen. In the good old days, when it was siaran langsung (live telecast), it was a privilege to watch such matches on TV as it was the only source other than radio.
There was no other medium such as tablets or smartphones. There were no other distractions such as Facebook, Twitter or news portals. Nowadays, I can follow a match by talking about the game “live” on WhatsApp with friends nationwide. It can be more fun.
“Goal!” Nick, my friend from the “Barang Naik” WhatsApp group will post, and the group can connect a Liverpool game with anything political or social happening in Malaysia. For example, if Liverpool lost to Manchester United, we will blame it on the politician some Malaysians blame for this country’s ills.
I’m not the only one who does not watch World Cup 2018 on television. According to a study by Ipsos, a market and opinion research specialist, 62% of Internet users worldwide planned to watch World Cup matches on TV, while a quarter planned to watch online.
The percentage is roughly the same in Malaysia. Ipsos found that 61% of Malaysians would follow the tournament on TV, while 24% planned to watch via mobile devices.
According to a study by GlobalWebIndex, a technology company that provides audience profiling data, 51% of fans watching World Cup matches on TV will use social media, while half will chat to or message friends as they watch.
Of all the World Cup games so far, the ones that I enjoyed was Senegal vs Poland (I was happy that Wakanda won), Germany vs South Korea (an Asian team knocked out the defending champions, Argentina vs Nigeria (where Lionel Messi finally scored) and Brazil vs Switzerland (fun to see Neymar tumbling like a pinball).
I’ve not really watched the other games. Either I just read about the game on the Internet while it was being played, or I just watched bits and pieces of the match live on my tablet.
I am probably not that excited about the World Cup because I don’t have a favourite team. Malaysia, which a meme says has remained unbeaten in the World Cup, is not playing. So, I don’t have a team to root for.
I like to watch the way Brazil and Argentina play. But whether they win the World Cup or not, I’m still not that excited.
Previously, maybe this is decades ago, I used to root for England. But England tend to raise high expectation during the first few matches and then dramatically disappoint.
According to Ipsos, Brazil are Malaysians’ top pick to win the World Cup. It found that 25% of Malaysians think Brazil will win followed by Germany (19%) and Spain (11%).
On Facebook, on the day Germany got kicked out of the World Cup, I could see friends who were broken-hearted while others celebrated.
Back to the England vs Belgium game. The Englishmen conceded the only goal of the match. I missed that goal when it was scored but I managed to watch it via YouTube.
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