Amid the scandal of human rights abuses and allegations of latter-day slavery, the FIFA 2022 World Cup kicked-off Sunday, and signalled the biggest iGaming betting boom since, well, the last one.
With over half the world watching, that’s an expected audience of four billion people, top international operators and sportsbooks are predicting that the competition, featuring the football teams of 32 nations, will be an unqualified betting success – a veritable iGaming bonanza, despite the swirling controversy over the US$150 million musings of “Goldenballs” David Beckham and infantile rant of once-ginger-headed FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Entain, owners of Ladbrokes Coral, for example, have already reported a “record number of actives, bets, stakes and first-time deposits” for the matches that will be played in eight custom-built stadia and held in a Muslim state for the very first time.
The group’s CCO Dominic Grounsell said: “It’s great to see the passion and emotion that football generates around the globe.
“We’re looking forward to the excitement that a World Cup brings for our customers.”
American baseball may have its so-called World Series and American football its Super Bowl but no single-sport knockout contest, bar none, beats the FIFA World Cup for sheer breath and impact.
Pretty much as always, although they haven’t won it for 20-years, five-times champions Brazil, with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker Neymar as the tip of their awesome attacking force, is everyone’s favourite to lift the storied Jules Rimet trophy.
Neymar, with 75 goals for his country, is also set to surpass the record number of 77 strikes for Brazil, currently held by the legendary Pelé — a man who scored over 1,000 goals during his stellar career.
The odds of Neymar eclipsing Pelé on the international stage must be running very short indeed, one imagines.
Overall, bettors on Planet Football are giving Brazil a 50 per cent chance of victory.
Argentina, led by the ageing but inimitable Lionel Messi, also of PSG, come a close second at 40 per cent, followed by Germany and defending champions France at 28 per cent each.
Belgium, Denmark and England, jointly, make up the top tier at 18 per cent.
Meantime, in-play and parlay masters bet365 have released the following odds:
Brazil @15/4; Argentina @11/2; France @13/2; England and Spain @8/1;
Germany @10/1; Netherlands and Portugal @14/1 and Belgium at 16/1.
World Cup Groups
Group A: Ecuador, Netherlands, Qatar, and Senegal.
Group B: England, Iran, USA, and Wales.
Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia.
Group D: Australia, Denmark, France, and Tunisia.
Group E: Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, and Spain.
Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Ghana, and Morocco.
Group G: Brazil, Cameroon, Serbia, and Switzerland.
Group H: Canada, Portugal, South Korea, and Uruguay.
By all means, given the importance of the topics, let the politics talk.
But now, also, let the games begin.