Like many of you, I'm already glued to the TV set watching the soccer World Cup. But while enjoying every minute of the world's biggest sports event, I can't help wondering whether its outcome will help or hurt governments in several soccer-crazy countries.
Judging from history, the World Cup has a big short-term impact on countries' national mood, creating a climate of euphoria that allows governments to claim that things are going well when their national teams do well, and collective depressions that tend to help opposition parties when their teams do badly.
A SECOND WIND
As I was reminded by
Now, the World Cup's outcome could affect several upcoming elections in
The celebrations would help Mexicans temporarily forget the economic and drug-related crime problems that have rocked the country over the past two years, and drive many Mexicans to see the future with more optimistic eyes, the theory goes.
My opinion: The World Cup's outcome will have a short-term political impact in countries that hold elections in coming months. That means that it will influence
But perhaps its biggest political impact will be the "window of distraction" it will provide some governments to do questionable things while the rest of the world is watching the championship. I can already imagine advisors to authoritarian or corrupt leaders telling their bosses when discussing legally questionable measures: "Great! But we must do it now since nobody is paying attention."
There is already talk that Venezuelan President
So while we are avidly consuming -- and enjoying -- the massive media coverage of the World Cup, I suggest that we keep one eye open for sneaky leaders will use the "window of distraction" to their benefit.
At Last Americans Becoming Soccer Fans
Good news for those of us who love soccer and want the game to keep growing: U.S. television ratings for the World Cup have been very good so far, and many sports analysts are predicting that the United States will soon become a major soccer power.
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(C) 2010 Andres Oppenheimer