official FIFA World Cup website is run by and co-branded with Yahoo. A Washington Post story today highlights the interactive and multimedia features of the site - including blogs, chat, and three- to five-minute video highlights for all of the 64 games. Also in lieu of live webcasts (not possible I presume because of TV rights), the site offers something called "MatchCast" - which is described as "a kind of animated telecast of the game that graphically displays players on the field, ball location, time outs and live scores."The
So the website is really a showcase of the latest in Yahoo's social Web technology - for a mass audience that is (in other words, expect a fair degree of conservatism).
Jorge Consuegra, general manager of Yahoo's FIFA partnership, told Washington Post: "Creating a global community around the biggest sporting event in the world -- that's the biggest step for this site."
How they're creating this community is through the Yahoo product line - Flickr, 360, Answers, Desktop toolbar, chat, MyYahoo, etc. If anything, these community tools are scattered a bit haphazardly around what is a very large website. Not too many of the 'community' features are promoted on the homepage, which indicates that the site is still very much positioned as an information and World Cup news portal.
Yahoo technology is integrated throughout the site, including Flickr integration and promotion. A lot of the news and information on the site is pretty straight-forward and probably similar to what you would've seen on the 2002 official website. But it's comprehensive and that's the main thing. There's also the usual 'official site' suspects - polls, screensavers, shop, fantasy game, etc. If anything there are too many navigation options, as I had trouble finding things.
I did enjoy the Video Archive, which is an excellent way to waste a couple of hours in front of your PC! It's also great to see Fifa/Yahoo taking advantage of the broadband age and making historical World Cup footage available on the Web. In fact the Video section in general is fantastic and features a wide range of video content. Because the World Cup games are on in the wee hours of the morning my time, I'm particularly enjoying the Match highlights videos (btw it hasn't stopped me staying up far too late to watch the World Cup - hence my bleary eyes currently!).
The MatchCast feature is potentially the best feature, as it's a live stats/chat/graphics dashboard that runs while a game is in process live. Personally I'm not in the habit of using my computer while watching TV, but I can imagine MatchCast would be very useful in integrated TV/PC platforms - like Media Center for example. Perhaps a little ahead of its time for most of us right now, but if you're a very dedicated fan - then the opportunity to chat to other fans and check stats on your PC, while watching the TV for the game itself, might be a very useful thing.
I actually didn't see any evidence of blogs on the site navigation, but a search revealed that users can create a Yahoo 360° SuperFan Blog under the banner "The 12th Man". So that's why I couldn't find blogs on the menu - because it's cryptically labeled "The 12th Man"! Here's an example of a fan's blog - it's pretty much the basic Y! 360 experience.
Overall, great use of video on the official site and MatchCast is a promising feature (I'll be interested to find out how well used it ends up being). Lots of Yahoo properties are integrated into the site, but to be honest I felt the community aspects were fairly conservative - IM, games, uploading photos, 360 blogs, etc. Blogging could've been made a lot more central to the experience, in terms of promoting it more and putting it high on the homepage. Also largely missing - enabling users to personalize their World Cup site and utilize interactive widgets/web services. So overall I'd rate the site a 7 out of 10, but there's room for improvement.