Which is a bigger sporting event: FIFA World Cup or Olympics?

Which is a bigger sporting event: FIFA World Cup or Olympics?

Both the FIFA World Cup and Olympics are the most awaited tournaments. While the FIFA is restricted to football game, Olympics is a multi-disciplinary tournament. The latter is bigger event overall but not so much loved by the real football lovers.

Olympics are organized as summer and winter games. It is the summer games that are mostly compared with the FIFA World cup to gauge their respective scales. So, the very first point of comparison can be the two seasons dedicated to the Olympics vs. round of 16 plus knock-offs included in the FIFA World Cup. On several notable grounds, Olympics prove more magnanimous event than the FIFA World Cup. Let’s take those reasons one by one.

  1. Scale of organization and preparations required

Bagging an Olympics event is a big thing for any country. It brings the country lots of sponsorships, revenues from sports tourism and other benefits. However, the country needs to invest a lot too for preparations. Almost the whole region undergoes a makeover to accommodate millions of fans, staff, players, etc. Since the Olympics is a multi-disciplinary event, the host country has to build cycling tracks, running tracks, stadiums for various indoor games, swimming pools, etc.

On the other hand, organizing the FIFA World Cup may prove less cumbersome. The football-loving countries do have a number of stadiums already in place. Also, the countries where the league culture is conspicuous, clubs maintain the football grounds quite religiously. Thus, at the most, building of a stadium or a two plus a few renovations may be required to host the FIFA World Cup. Hence, in terms of preparations, Olympics is a bigger challenge.

  • Revenue generation

Olympics committee sells the viewership rights to the TV channels in lieu of a hefty amount, and so does the FIFA World Cup. Owing to the wider fan base of Olympics due to lots of sports included, the deals struck by this organization are way higher than the FIFA’s.

Opening ceremonies’ tickets in the Olympic Games are priced $2,550 on an average. The face value may range from about $31 to $3000. However, FIFA tickets of an important event like US vs. Germany cost $894 on an average. If we look at the revenue as against the cost incurred, the FIFA may come out to be more profitable event as the organization costs are little less.

  • TV viewership

According to a CBS Baltimore report, the FIFA World Cup 2016 had a viewership of about 3.5 billion which was slightly lower than Olympics which brought in 3.6 billion people to the TV screens.

The Olympics games are watched more and have wider fan base as the types of games interest more audiences. FIFA fan base is not as diversified; still it is an amazing crowd-puller with trailing only slightly behind on the viewership criteria.

  • Number of participants

Around 206 countries participate in the Olympics. It is almost like the whole sports world coming together to put up a show. In case of the FIFA World Cup, a major chunk of countries are filtered away in qualifying rounds. The final count of countries contending the quarter-final and above stages is 32. Hence, you will find Olympics games more crowded in terms of player participation.

  • Duration of the event

Given the period over which the qualifying rounds and knock-offs take place, the FIFA comes out to be a more elaborate event. Olympics games don’t extend over 16 days, whereas the FIFA is spread over months when qualifying rounds are played before the start of the knock-off rounds.

  • Magnitude of intangibles

If we dissect the emotional association, pulling power or the importance given to the sports event mentally, the Olympics may not have than impact. It is more or less seen as an event for the younger population. The Football lovers mostly are more emotionally attached to their players participating in the FIFA World Cup. They value it as the most important spectacle in the sports field to witness.

That kind of excitement and drama is missing from the Olympics. The sportspersons show their classiest performances and still get knocked down from the people’s memories sooner than anticipated. The furor around the FIFA World Cup lingers on the minds of the fans for years. They keep a closer tab on the players’ performances and feel more connected to the game. Many times, the fights between the fans or the ones between the players on the turf has made it to the headlines. It does not happen much often in the Olympics.

  • Ability to keep audience glued

The viewership of the Olympics opening ceremonies is phenomenally high. It is almost unmatchable. But, the ensuing games fail to hold the grip. Viewers are divided as per their interest in the sports. However, there is never a dull moment in the FIFA World Cup. The contending teams enter with a motive and their historical records of previous meets add a lot to the drama. Viewers follow each and every match to ensure that their favorite team stands out in both the absolute and relative terms. Considering the kind of grip over the audience, the FIFA World Cup scores bettor.

  • Gambling possibilities

Even though the disciplines in the Olympics are more numerous, the bettors don’t show much interest in this event. Most of the games are not much researched upon, and there are no clear favorites.

Bookmakers pay a lot more attention to the FIFA World Cup. They rate the teams and assign odds well in advance. The bettors pitching in a lot of money in the FIFA matches is a reality. A lot of records and betting options are available for the bettors to assess and place multiple bets. Hence, in terms of popularity among the bettors, the FIFA World Cup has an edge.


Considering the scale, the preparations required and the money involved, the Olympics definitely outdoes the FIFA World Cup. While talking about the intangibles, the word ‘FIFA World Cup’ is quite likely to give more goose bumps to the sports lovers. Hence, both tournaments are insanely big and have their own departments where they rule the hearts of the sports lovers.