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Press review ‘The World Cup as we know it is dead’

French team celebrates

French players lift the trophy after beating Croatia in the final of the World Cup in Moscow on Sunday


“The Triumph of Europe”, “Irritatingly flawless champions”, “Deschampions” – the Swiss press are effusive in their praise of France’s football world champions under manager Didier Deschamps, but some voices expressed concern about the direction the tournament was taking. 

“There’s a ritual after every big sporting event: the most recent version is always hailed as the best that’s ever taken place. The World Cup in Russia is no exception,” hailed the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) on Monday. 

“Russia can be very pleased with its achievements – hardly any of the fears discussed ahead of the games manifested themselves,” it said. 

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“While the event may have generated new experiences for residents of host cities and changed their perception of foreigners, everything else remains the same and it’s not apparent that the country has been sustainably changed by hosting the games." 

The NZZ noted that the celebrations were “completely apolitical”. “The Kremlin did not give in to the temptation of making symbolic gestures as it had done before the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi,” it said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin was “astonishingly restrained”, the paper concluded. “Ultimately it wasn’t so much ‘Putin’s Games’ – as had been feared – as the Games of the Russian people.” 

‘Moment of unity’ 

“With France’s 4-2 victory [over Croatia], the World Cup has come to an end. Initially, the big question this year was who is in the mood even to watch the games? Who is in the mood for a summer with Russia, with Putin, with discussions about human rights, freedom of the press, violence, homophobia, Crimea, Syria, racism and corruption?” wrote the Tages-Anzeiger in Zurich. 

“In the end, none of these subjects was really discussed in the past four-and-a-half weeks. Putin took a step back and gave the Russian people an opportunity to present themselves to the world with a smile, and to show their hospitality.” 

Nevertheless, Russia remains unchanged, “because no country has ever been changed simply by hosting the World Cup”. 

Tabloid Blick focused on what the result could mean for France, which previously won the World Cup 20 years ago. 

“France should enjoy this moment of unity. Winning the World Cup certainly has the power to bring people together, just like back in 1998. But we know that the moment is fleeting, so hope shouldn’t be stretched too much. Football can’t solve the social problems around integration in France, just like it can’t solve it in any other country.” 

Macron and Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron congratulates French player Antoine Griezmann. Russian President Vladimir Putin is to their right


Digestible format? 

“This was the last World Cup” was the rather gloomy headline of the editorial in the Tribune de Genève. 

“We’ve got to wait four years until another adventure – except nothing will be the same,” it said. “The World Cup as we know it is dead and buried.” 

From 1982 to 1998, 24 teams took part in the World Cup and since 1998 it’s been 32. “The finals have always invited the footballing elite to a summer get-together. But that’s now history. A page has turned and we don’t really know the contents of the following chapter.” 

In 2022 the tournament will be played in Qatar – in November and December as a result of the searing heat in June and July. “That’s the first revolution,” according to the Tribune de Genève. 

The second is that, four years later, the World Cup will be shared between the United States, Canada and Mexico and fought out between 48 teams. 

“The business logic quickly imposed itself: it’s all about involving as many countries as possible. With ‘fast football’ people happily swallow double portions. We’ll soon see if it remains digestible. But there are doubts. If we’re being honest, the quality in this World Cup of 32 teams has left a lot to be desired.” 

For Le Temps in Lausanne, the French team “has shown qualities which, seen from Switzerland, one often accuses France of not demonstrating in daily life: modesty, cohesion, compromise and patience”. 

“It is to be hoped that the temptation for arrogance and boasting will make way for a serene victory. Born in the suburbs, the black-and white team of Deschamps will be all the more respected if it manages to avoid any political hijacking or blundering exploitation of its success,” it said. 

Lifting the trophy is proof that “when these mixed talents are correctly harmonised, our big neighbour deserves our trust and congratulations. To say ‘bravo’ to Deschamps’ team is to welcome the potential of this France”.

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