Sport: Special Report

It is sobering to think how much is riding on the fortunes of a small group of men whose primary skill is to juggle a large toy with their feet.

The 2006 Fifa World Cup is expected to generate around £30 million in incremental spend to the UK's advertising economy, according to MindShare.

Depending on how far Sven's men progress, that figure could grow or shrink by some 20 per cent.

While £30 million is not to be sniffed at, it is perhaps less than one would have hoped for from the world's premier sporting event. The reality is that the World Cup will have more influence on when and where media is bought than the year's grand total.

Adspend on TV is expected to spike before and after the World Cup, but not during it. Mindful of the scrum of predominantly male viewers hogging the remote control, advertisers are likely to move off-air and into other media such as women's weeklies. The only real certainty, MindShare says, is sponsorship, which constitutes a third of the total across TV, press and radio.

The bigger picture is more positive. The World Cup is being lauded as a catalyst that will help adspend outgrow global GDP this year. Hardly surprising, when you think that a TV audience the size of the population of China will tune in when Germany plays host to Costa Rica in seven weeks' time.

But what about other ways to watch the World Cup? Yahoo!, the creator of the official World Cup website, is negotiating a deal to show highlights online. Meanwhile, T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile are hatching plans to stream live games on to mobile phones. But will people bother watching matches on their phones? In an exclusive interview with Campaign, one of the world's finest defenders gives his verdict on page 29.