The World Cup 2010 and Facebook

The World Cup Trophy

Many Americans are paying attention to competitive soccer for the first time in years because of the prospects of this year's US team. What's in store for US soccer? (

Everyone watching the US vs. Slovenia World Cup game on Friday morning knows it was a great game. Soccer is growing in popularity in the US (at least right now) because this year’s national team is a good one and has a chance to make a run into the elimination rounds of the World Cup final. But because of the time zone difference between the US and South Africa, millions of Americans are caught on the brink of committing to soccer but unable to watch the games at home on TV. This has lead to a greater focus on Internet marketing and broadcasting, allowing people to watch the games online. Some people still didn’t get to watch the game. But what the time zone difference definitely couldn’t stop was people’s commentary on the World Cup game between the US and Slovenia.

As I watched the game, I noticed that commentary on the World Cup game was dominating my news feed on Facebook. Through its chat client, private messaging, the links posted and the statuses updated in people’s news feeds, Facebook has become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. I began to ponder after the game the massive scope of what Facebook does to connect us with other people around the world. I figured that the World Cup game was a better time than any to measure how many people’s opinions Facebook connects me to in any given day.

So I went through my Facebook newsfeed and compiled a list of all the people who referenced the World Cup in their status, commented on the World Cup, or commented on other people’s comments on the World Cup during and after the 10:00AM EST game. The list is below the fold as an Appendix (to read, click on the title of the post or click “Read more…” at the end of the post). For now, I’ll just summarize the results, since the sheer multitude of reactions I found allow me to create something of a zeitgeist with my findings:

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Facebook is changing our lives in ways we take for granted. This morning, I received the opinions of approximately fifty people on the World Cup game I was watching.

Overall, using Facebook, I received the opinions of 37 (thirty seven) friends and 13 (thirteen) other people about the World Cup match, both while and in the first few hours after it happened. That’s a total of 50 (fifty) people. I have 601 (six-hundred and one) friends on Facebook, which means that I received the opinions of approximately 1/12 (one-twelfth) of my friends. Pretty cool. Here’s a bit of a breakdown:

Only one person cheered for Slovenia. Eleven people (22%) cheered for the United States (though most people who were complaining about the referees were certainly sympathetic to the United States more generally). One person, he recently married my cousin actually, booed the United States, but that was over their poor play early in the game.

fifa world cup soccer

One of my friends posted a picture that demonstrated why the referee's call was bad.

A lot of people complained about a controversial refereeing decision made by Malinese referee Koman Coulibaly (poor guy, it was his first World Cup finals match ever). Sixteen (32%) of my friends complained about the referees, but six additional friends made jokes about the referee, and more blamed the referee for the loss.

A significant chunk of the people just “liked” something that was posted by someone else. Facebook recently added a feature that allows users to “like” individual comments beneath statuses; however, no one used that feature to like a comment about the World Cup.

Most people in my news feed were acquaintances or family friends, but a small minority included my roommate, my immediate family, and some former debate partners. A friend of mine posted a funny video of Robin Williams’ comedy routine that featured a bit about the referees.

As you may know, David set up the StoneSoup World Cup Fantasy League last week on As I like to get into some of the extreme patriotism that is so clearly wildly popular among my friends (at least according to my news feed), I believe I am the only person in the league who has picked the US to win the World Cup. As such, I am paying a lot of attention to the games – getting up in the morning on a Friday I have off was something I haven’t done for a sports event in a while. But if my news feed is any indication, it seems that plenty of my friends are just as excited as I am.


Here’s the list of people whose opinions about the World Cup I received (starting around 11:00AM):

1 (one) friend cheered for Slovenia during the game and was disappointed that they tied.

1 (one) friend lamented the US falling behind 0 – 2 and booed the United States for their poor play in the first half.

1 (one) friend said there was a conspiracy to deny the US the game from the league officials.

1 (one) friend accused the Slovenians of using dirty tactics and believed that it was a good game spoiled by bad refereeing.

1 (one) friend was incredulous at the performance of the referees and believed that they stole a victory from the US.

1 (one) friend agreed and added that he was furious.

1 (one) friend joined in the discussion about the performance of the referees by writing out a string of epithets and swear words.

1 (one) friend made lewd remarks about the referees and blamed the referees for spoiling four years of preparation.

3 (three) people liked that.

1 (one) friend (1 (one) of the friends who liked that) said she thought it was complete bullshit what had happened and remarked that she had never seen such a horrible call in her life.

1 (one) friend, my brother, remarked that it was a nightmare.

1 (one) friend remarked “shits weak” about the occasion.

1 (one) friend made a connection between the controversial officiating in the preceding night’s basketball game and the controversial officiating in the World Cup game that morning.

1 (one) person, not a friend, liked that.

1 (one) friend laughed at that.

1 (one) friend commented that this was the worst refereeing decision he had ever seen.

1 (one) friend said that all referees from the same country of origin as the referee who made the controversial decision should be banned from officiating at the World Cup.

1 (one) friend named the referee who made the controversial decision (Koman Coulibaly) in his message and also congratulated Team USA for the tie and cheered them on for their next match.

3 (three) people liked this.

1 (one) friend said he was on the verge of screaming in his college class because he was keeping track of the game.

1 (one) friend said that she had just begun watching soccer when the controversial refereeing decision occurred and that that made her angry at Koman Coulibaly.

1 (one) friend liked this.

I cheered the US.

1 (one) friend liked this.

1 (one) friend said the US was robbed and that he personally felt bad about it.

I commented that the US was robbed, but that the game was still a good one for the US.

1 (one) friend said it was a horrific decision by the referee.

1 (one) friend said that the game was payback for the trail of tears on 2 (two) separate occasions, commenting after 2 (two) separate status updates.  He also remarked that he forgot to eat his freedom fries this morning, a joke referring to a familiar recent incident when exaggerated patriotism was mocked for insincerity.

1 (one) friend said that while he was angry that the referees had deprived the US of victory with the controversial refereeing decision, he believed that we ought feel lucky that the referees did not cause greater damage with worse refereeing decisions.  He stated that he was satisfied with a draw.

1 (one) friend made a joke about the controversial refereeing decision.

4 (four) people liked this.

1 (one) friend commented that this was the best status yet posted about the World Cup.

1 (one) friend, my brother, rambled off a number of swear words and epithets toward Koman Coulibaly.

2 (two) people liked this.

1 (one) friend also expressed his anger with profanity.

1 (one) friend remarked that it was the most outrageous refereeing decision he had ever seen.  He later remarked that he agreed with the idea of attacking Mali in retribution for the controversial refereeing decision.

2 (two) people liked this.

1 (one) friend agreed that it was an egregiously bad refereeing decision.

1 (one) friend expressed his anger at Koman Coulibaly.

1 (one) friend suggested that the US cut diplomatic ties with Mali in retaliation against the controversial refereeing decision.

1 (one) friend accused Mali of harboring Osama bin Laden and remarked that that would be sufficient justification to destroy the country.  He later admitted that he was joking and made another joke about the situation.

1 (one) friend said that the US should always win and that Koman Coulibaly should have been informed of this.

1 (one) friend said that Koman Coulibaly, as well as other referees, ought stay hydrated.

1 (one) friend reacted to the tie by stating that the US needed to win against Algeria in an upcoming match to advance out of group play.

1 (one) friend posted a video of a Robin Williams comedy routine that touches on the subject of controversial officiating in worldwide soccer.

These are my Facebook friends.

Note: People had not even gotten back from work yet. I’m pretty impressed, Facebook. I bet I have people on this list who come from at least five or six different countries. People I met once, my closest friends, family acquaintances, the people listed above come from all over the place. I definitely have new faith in Facebook’s ability to connect people all around the world.


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