With the 2018 Fifa World Cup just days away, more than half of Kenyans who intend to watch the games say they will do so from the comfort of their homes, while about a quarter prefer restaurants and clubs, reveals a survey on viewing habits.

Four in five sub Saharan Africans aged 15 and above, including a majority of women, say they will watch the tournament, according to the recent GeoPoll survey. If they keep their word, the viewership of the tournament that kicks off in Russia on June 14 will surpass that of the last games in Brazil in 2014.

About 3.5 billion people watched the 2014 games globally, with African viewership peaking in the first round match between Nigeria and Iran that ended in a goalless draw. The match was watched by 25 million Africans. Although males were consistent in their viewership in all the matches, females were more interested in watching games that involved African teams.

This year, NTV has the TV rights to broadcast the World Cup in Kenya.

Fifa sold the TV rights for the last World Cup for about Sh246 billion and made a further Sh171 billion from marketing and licensing rights. Only about one in Sh9 of the revenue it generated came from actual ticket sales. This year, NTV has the TV rights to broadcast the World Cup in Kenya.

There will be five African countries playing in the tournament namely Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia. The World Cup is being hosted in Europe for the 11th time, the most by any continent. However, only a third of Africans who took part in the survey identified the participating African countries by name. South America has hosted the games five times, North America (three) and Africa and Asia (once each).


Pele’s prediction

Despite Africa’s passion for football, many of the 39 appearances by African teams in past World Cups have been lukewarm. Given the good performance of footballers from Africa in the European leagues, the greatest footballer of all time Brazilian Pele in 1977 predicted that an African nation would win the World Cup before the year 2000. He was wrong. Since the tournament started in 1930, the highest level attained by African nations was the quarter-finals by Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010).

Pele, a three-time World Cup winner, became the youngest player ever to appear in a World Cup final when he made his debut in Sweden in 1958 aged just 17. Brazil clinched the trophy.

Egypt was the first African nation to participate in the World Cup but lost all their matches in the 1934 tournament.

The year 1990 saw the first African nation, Cameroon, reach the quarter finals. The team was filled with players from Cameroonian domestic league led by an unknown coach. In that match, England scored first before Cameroon came back with two goals to take the lead. However, in the 82nd minute, England were awarded a penalty which they scored taking the game to extra time. Another penalty was given to England in the 105th minute with the match ending 3-2 in their favour.

The most memorable moment was in Milan, where the nine-man team beat Diego Maradona captained Argentina 1-0. Two Cameroonian players were red-carded in the match. The mesmerising Maradona, who had scored the goal of the century in the World Cup four years earlier and won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, would later praise Cameroon.

The star of the Cameroon team was football legend Roger Milla., who had been recalled from retirement at age 38 at the request of then Cameroonian President Paul Biya to boost the team’s morale.

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