So the World Cup is fast approaching, and even if you’re not usually a big soccer fan it’s hard not to avoid the pull of the biggest sporting tournament on the planet. Running for a month from November 20, it’s likely to feature heavily on the news and around the water cooler – so why not join the fun?
A note on Qatar
While some people are boycotting the tournament in protest at host nation Qatar’s sportwashing controversies, others are hoping the increased scrutiny of the spotlight will force the country to improve on its awful human rights laws. Amnesty International is doing its best to do just that, and we’d suggest you read its website and get involved if you want to help move the dial toward positive change. This piece on migrant worker compensation from Human Rights Watch is an insightful read, too.
If you’ve decided to watch the World Cup this year, there are countless apps to help you get into the spirit.
How to watch
Live sports can often be a confusing, expensive thing to watch without the right setup, but this year’s World Cup coverage is fairly straightforward.
In the US, the English-language rights are held by Fox, so you’ll need paid access to its sports channels to watch live, either via cable or the Fox Now app. But considering many of the games will air at unsociable hours in the US, you might also considering watching full match replays for free via Tubi. They go up almost immediately after the game, so you’ll only need to avoid spoilers for a short time.
All the stats
BBC Sport is hard to beat for its free tournament coverage, with in-depth reporting and analysis of every kick of the cup. If that doesn’t float your boat, Onefootball is another good independent source of footy news and stats. Set one of these up with push notifications and you can get live alerts for every goal.
For the analysis nut, The Athletic writes fantastic sports journalism and has detailed team guides for every country in the World Cup if you want a shortcut to sounding knowledgable. It’s paywalled, but you could always pick up a cheap introductory offer just for the cup.
Finally, if you want to compete with your friends, there’s an official World Cup Fantasy League you can enter for free. Pick your favorite players and see who scores the most points!
Best soccer games
If simply watching isn’t enough, there are plenty of ways you can experience the beautiful game yourself on iPhone and iPad. These days there’s almost too much choice when it comes to iOS sports sims, so the best soccer game will really depend on your preferences. Apple’s list of footy games covers all the usual suspects and is a great place to start.
We also have a soft spot for the fast arcade action and simplistic graphics of Stickman Soccer. Or, if 90s retro graphics are your thing then Pixel Cup Soccer ($1/£1) is a match made in heaven. Score Hero is a love letter to the beautiful game that has you passing and shooting with a swipe of your finger, while Soccer Stars is a radical simplification of the sport that’s essentially online turn-based air hockey.
There you have it! All manner of ways to get involved with the World Cup. The only thing left to do now is rig the office sweepstake…