It is extraordinary how much politicians invest on world's most popular sport to improve their image. It is certain that Vladimir Putin has heavily invested on 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament that is taking place in Russia, to upgrade his image and the image of his country.
Football's impact on the masses is so great that many people conceive such tournaments - involving national teams - as an opportunity to give a kind of rebirth to their national pride through a successful presence of their team.
Unfortunately, behind such a popular sport we can frequently find big interests involving huge amounts of money and other dirty games behind the curtain. And World Cup's history is full of stories involving not just a popular sport, but also intrigues and rigged games based on political decisions.
For example, concerning the 1934 FIFA World Cup tournament when Italy won its first title, several sources have reported that the tournament could have been marred by corruption and influenced by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who used the tournament as a propaganda tool for fascism. According to these accusations, Mussolini personally selected referees for the matches where the Italian national team were playing, while the Italian government meddled in FIFA's organisation of events, re-organizing the logistics of the matches to further promote fascism.
During the next decades, countries taking responsibility to organize FIFA World Cup were using it to exhibit their regional and economic strength. The event has also been exploited by these countries in order to attract visitors in their soil, promoting themselves as favorable destinations. Although highly debatable, many argue that World Cup has also been evolved into an unofficial indicator of development and economic strength for some traditional football powers, like Germany.
So, what can we say about the fact that the title holders and four times world champions, didn't make it even to the knockout phase?
Germany suffered a humiliating group stage elimination following defeats to Mexico and South Korea and managed just one victory against Sweden. They were in the process eliminated from the World Cup in the first round for just the second time in their history.
Recall that in previous 2014 tournament, Germany won the title, while defeated the football superpower hosts, Brazil, with the unreal 7-1 in the semi-finals.
Could current failure be an indicator of Germany's decline?