A really interesting paper courtesy of Brad Plumer of the Washington Post.
How popular is soccer? Popular enough to bring financial markets to a halt, it seems. A new paper (pdf) from the European Central Bank finds that during the 2010 World Cup, the number of stock trades plunged an average of 45 percent in countries whose teams were playing at the time. (A goal caused a further 5 percent drop.) “We conclude,” write Michael Ehrmann and David-Jan Jansen, “that stock markets were following developments on the soccer pitch rather than in the trading pit.”
But something tells me that FIFA isn't going to publicize this paper by telling everyone, "Thanks to the World Cup billions of dollars of financial transactions are lost every four years.