Losing World Cup inspiration

Another four years have passed and the World Cup will soon be upon us. Sadly, nothing much has changed when it comes to watching the games on pay TV here ("Breaking the bank to catch the World Cup on TV"; last Friday).

During the last World Cup, viewers had to pay $88 to watch the matches. This year, the price has gone up to $105.

Offering free viewing in exchange for a two-year subscription to an English Premier League package is akin to forcing a captive audience to make a purchase under duress ("SingTel's World Cup offer dubbed 'a marketing ploy'"; last Thursday).

Yes, we can choose to forgo viewing the games. But are we depriving the less well-off of the simple pleasure of enjoying the greatest sport of all?

While I expect the People's Association to screen the games at some community clubs, this does not address the core issue of the consequences of pay-TV competition.

We have talked about entering the World Cup Finals, but how do we inspire more youngsters to play the game when we are doing nothing to provide them with the ultimate inspiration - watching the finest players in action?

Already, our children's lives have been "taken over" by electronic gadgets and social media. If this goes on, we will end up with children who do not even know how to kick a ball, fly a kite or feel the grass.

If we are to become a sporting nation, we have to provide the opportunity for citizens to watch professional athletes in action and learn from them.

In recent years, there have been very few sporting events shown on free-to-air TV. Recent offerings included the SEA Games, Summer and Winter Olympics, S-League, Malaysian Super League and the Singapore F1 race.

While it is good to have a free and competitive market, it is not-so-good to let one party dictate the price of a social catalyst such as the World Cup.

Among the many records held by Singapore, having the "most expensive World Cup package" is one we can do without. I hope the Media Development Authority will look into the matter and return the World Cup to the people.

Loke Siew Ken


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