oneill113_ Ryan PierseGetty Images_worldcup Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The World Cup and the World Economy

The selection of South Africa in 2010, Brazil in 2014, Russia in 2018, and Qatar in 2022 to host the world's most watched sporting event was clearly based on the rise of emerging economies. Given the turn against globalization, will such countries be selected again?

LONDON – The 22nd World Cup is under way, but who at the beginning of this century would have thought it might be hosted by tiny Qatar? Yet here we are, and the only surprise is that it doesn’t feel all that surprising.

For a large part of my professional career, I explored the links between the beautiful game and the global economy. At Goldman Sachs and, before that, at the Swiss Bank Corporation, I indulged my dual obsessions by presiding over special one-off publications for each World Cup from 1994 until 2010. After one, I received personal messages from senior central bankers around the world. Some told me it was the best publication we produced, which, given how frequently we published on economic events and markets, was both amusing and something to ponder. We persuaded national leaders and major football figures to guest write for us. On one occasion, Alex Ferguson, the legendary Manchester United manager, selected his all-time top world team.

I have, to date, managed to attend six World Cups, hosted by the United States, France, South Korea and Japan, Germany, South Africa, and Brazil. From these experiences, I can add my voice to those who describe the event as one of the most beautifully inclusive meetings of many different nationalities and cultures. The advent of the Fan Zones, which really took off following the 2006 World Cup in Germany, embodied this spirit, though I experienced it most intensely in Seoul in 2002.