Uwhen it came to preparing for the World Cup, England were meticulous. With an eye on every detail, from team psychology to adapting to the heat of a desert climate, Gareth Southgate’s side have left no stone unturned. Except for one thing: they chose the same music for goals as Switzerland and Poland.
For some traditional football fans, that blast of music over the public address system that follows a goal is anathema. It’s all part of the fun at the World Cup, with organizers FIFA asking each of the 32 competing nations for a song that can best capture the joy of scoring goals.
The Guardian has obtained the list of nominated songs and shows commercial pop music from every corner of the world; from Canada’s local superstar Drake and his Going Bad to the religious music of Tunisia’s selection, Muhammed by Adnan Dogru, the Balkan reggaeton of Serbia’s selection Preko Sveta by Rasta. England chose fan favorite Freed From Desire, a 1997 hit by Italian singer Gala. The only problem is that the song is so popular that the Poles and the Swiss have also chosen it.
The Three Lions have had the chance to play the goal music half a dozen times so far, while Switzerland have yet to start their tournament and the Poles were held to a 0-0 draw by Mexico, whose song of choice was La Hija Del Mariachi’s La Negra. However, while England have named a backup goal jingle – Dua Lipa’s One Kiss – the other two sides have not.
The clash of “sting” goals, as FIFA calls them, won’t be the biggest controversy of the World Cup, but music certainly plays a central role in the tournament. Qatar 22’s official song, Hayya Hayya (Better Together), brings together pop stars from three continents. American R&B singer Trinidad Cardona, Afrobeats icon Davido and Qatari star Aisha share lyrics to a song expressing a message of global friendship, one of the organizers’ key themes.
In case Asian fans felt at all left out, Fifa sent K-pop sensation Jung Kook of BTS to perform at the opening ceremony in Doha last weekend. The governing body also claimed a first when it launched an official World Cup playlist on Spotify under the artist name Fifa Sound. Not to be outdone, sponsors Budweiser also released their own World Cup song, a cover of Tears For Fears’ 1980s anthem Everybody Wants to Rule the World by rapper Lil Baby. Less commonly heard in Doha than Hayya Hayya.
In another first, live music has also been integrated into the tournament in an attempt to, in Fifa’s words, “reimagine” the fan experience. The Fifa Fan Festival, a 40,000-capacity concrete park in Doha’s West Bay, combines live screenings of every match with an MC and a series of live acts, again selected from around the world. There’s also a beach festival with big-name DJs, which fans can pay to enter or get in for free if they stay in one of the £175-a-night tented villages.
The idea of the World Cup as one big party has never been so consciously cultivated, but football and music have a long history together, dating back to the days of New Order and John Barnes, or England’s less artistic 1970 single for The World Cup, Back home. Expanding on the World Cup experience, however, also reveals a fundamental truth; that football intermediaries see a world where their sport becomes just another part of consumer entertainment, and they want to make sure they are ready.