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July 05 2010

China: Why is Chinese football so weak?

By Oiwan Lam

Recently the New York Times posted the question on “Why does China lag far behind in soccer when it competes so aggressively in many Olympic sports?” and invited a number of experts to answer. Actually similar questions have been raised by Chinese netizens in various QA forums since the beginning of World Cup 2010 and below are a selection of ordinary Chinese people's answers.

Reality VS. Dream

In xncss.org.cn, a football fan asks: “Why is Chinese football so weak?” at the beginning of the World Cup. Below is the most satisfactory answer for his question:

中国足球为何烂泥扶不上墙?一个重要的原因也许是没有“市场退路”。由于没有“市场退路”,爱好者只能破釜沉舟,只能通过自己的努力,成为“猩猩”级人 物,才能杀出一条血路来,过上较为体面的生活。一旦失败,再回头已是百年身:青春期过了,先前百分百地投入足球运动,则百分百地影响了学习其他知识和记 忆,失败后的足球爱好者其社会谋生能力相当于一个小学生学历的成年人——因为市场不需要这些二三流的足球球员,他们就只能到足球以外的市场觅食!即是说足 球爱好者一旦失败,将陷入万劫不复的深渊,爱好足球风险之高可以以想见。

Why does Chinese football look so muddy? One of the most important reason is the lack of a real market. Football lovers can only act on their own capacity to become famous and enjoy a decent live. If they fail, they lose their youth and ruin their lives as their value has reduced to that of a primary school kid. The football field does not have space for grade 2 or 3 football players and they can only make their living outside the football field. The risk of football lovers is just too high.

163.com uses a set of photos, “When can we show our pride in the World Cup?“, to show Chinese people's disappointment towards Chinese football. In the discussion thread, many people believe that the society is too poor to develop a vibrant football culture:

房价那么贵,物价老在涨,压力那么大,我没其他心思:没有心思被感动,也没有心思感动,我只想着能多挣点钱,因为在中国钱才是万万能的:能有住的,能有吃的,能有尊严,能养活亲人。我没心思踢球,梦想和现实的差距谁来买单?

The housing property price is too expensive and inflation keeps raising. Too much pressure for us to focus on football game. Our thoughts are occupied with money making activities and cannot spare more feelings for football game. In China, money is the key to everything - for decent housing and food, for self-esteem. The price of the gap between dream and reality is too huge to pay.

Institutional problem

In SoSo, user Memories got frustrated about the football scene and asked a similar question:

中国足球怎么就这么差劲呢,连朝鲜都不如呢,我们这么大的中国,怎么就找不出22个踢足球好的人才呢?

How come Chinese football is so weak, even weaker than North Korea. Our country is so big, how can we fail to recruit 22 great football players?

The most satisfactory answer addresses the issue by referring to the institutional setting:

足球体制“`中国的足球 如果不改变现在体制 / 中国足球的现状大家都是知道的“““改变是很难的““只有从最基本开始改变“““中国足球的氛围到欧洲是很难的““`只有当足球成为中国的国球的时候““那时候才有可能的““`只有达到那种程度 才能一步一步考虑去争夺世界杯的冠军““否则都是扯蛋“““中国在国际的地位造成我们的球员很难出过门去踢比赛,很难有提高,不是来的外籍较量就能有提高,而是要自己的球员自己去提高的。

It is related to our existing system, if we fail to reform the football institution, it is very difficult to bring change to the current situation. Change has to be started from the most fundamental aspect. We need to turn football into our national sport in order to create an atmosphere like the football fever in Europe. Or else it is very difficult for us to step outside China and enter the international world, such as the World Cup. We cannot depend on matching with foreign team for improving our football players' standard. They have to improve their skill in local matches.

User, Wenwen family, elaborates on the institutional problem:

1、漠视现实,自以为是
中超联赛各队,除了某只不计成本的国企球队,实际都在亏损。中国足协却出台什么中超准入标准。什么盈利3000万等等。我 敢断言,中国球队没一只达到这些标准的。足协明知不可为,各队都是弄虚作假,偏偏定这么高的门槛。欧洲五大联赛的准入标准也没这么高,基本只有两条:1、 成绩合格 2、债务不超标

1. Unrealistic planning
Most of the football teams in the Chinese Football Super League, except from those supported by state institutes, are in deficit. Nevertheless, the Chinese Football Associate introduces the policy that requires members of the League to make 30 million yuan profit annually. I am sure that none of the team can make such profit and they have to fake their budget. Such standard is even higher than the European big 5 football leagues. They only have two basic requirements: 1. standard performance, 2. a limited amount of debt.

2、足协的“赌”
中国足协自2000年后就酷爱豪赌,先是豪赌世界杯,结果世界杯倒是参与了一 回,但中国足球却至少倒退了十年。2000年以前,好歹中国队还算是亚洲准强队,常年的亚洲老五。经此一赌,现在中国队充其量算亚洲2流,而且还是2流下 游。连8强赛都混不进去了。…

2. Football association's bet
The Chinese Football Association loves betting, they bet about the World Cup and managed to enter once. However, since then, the development of Chinese football have gone through a 10-year setback. Before 2000, Chinese football was a strong team in Asia and ranked number 5. After they lost the bet, we failed to enter the quarter finals….

3、鲁能的“嘴”
山东足球扰乱市场 秩序,逆市而上,本无可厚非,谁叫人家是国企,不计成本呢。但鲁能从总经理到球迷都是能吹的了。动不动就中国最强队,中国皇马之类的言谈。今年四大皆空…中国足球之所以不好,就是山东这样好大喜功,不愿自我反省的人太多了。

3. Shandong Luneng's boasting manner
Shandong's football has disrupted the market because they have strong state corporate support. Shandong Luneng's manager keeps saying that they are the strongest team in China, the Real Madrid in China. However, this year, they can't even enter the final four… The boasting manner of the Shandong football is so typical in the Chinese football scene. They don't reflect upon their failure.

4、体育总局的“令”
中国足球区别于其他国家最大的特点,就是足协并不能领导中国足球,足协上面还有体育总局这位大爷,没事就发一个莫名其妙的大令,足协的下官们,就德不管对错的执行下去。

4. Order from the Sport Bureau
The Football Association is not leading the Chinese football development, on its top is the Sport Bureau and the Association has to carry out whatever “order”, right or wrong, delivered to them from the Bureau.

7、政策的早令夕改
中国联赛的升降级改来改去就是明证。不知明年会不会再次宣布取消降级,可能性很大悠。以前联赛都快踢完了都敢改,何况明年联赛还没踢呢?

7. Policy changes
The ranking of the Chinese Super Football league keeps changing. It is yet unsure if the down grading system still exist next year, from the past experience, they can change the policy even during the Super match.

8、球迷的利益永远是无关紧要的
每年足协的政策都是先维护自己的利益,然后是俱乐部的利益。每次到最后都是损害球迷的利益。难道足协就怕球迷太多。

8. Disregarding football fans' interest
The policy of Chinese Football Association is to protect their own interest, followed by their clubs' interest regardless of football fans expectation. It seems that the Association does not want too many football fans in China.

Culture, fate and others

Apart from institutional explanation, there are cultural perspectives. Wise guy believes the problem is related with the nature / culture of being Chinese:

因为中国人不有外国人那么有激情   体力没他们好    没有他们团结

Chinese people are not as passionate as foreigners. And our physical strenght is not as good as them. Finally we don't have enough team spirit.

In another QA thread in SoSo there are more answers to the question:

Sean Faris said:

进了世界杯,上帝就哭了,为了让上帝开心,所以就进不了

God will cry when we enter the World Cup. In order to make God happy, we fail.

Dream talk makes 4 points:

1   中国   教练不行     没 别人那   经验  与 素质  
2    中国     道德  品行 有 待  发展    黑哨太多     更别谈好的方面了!
3     球员  深入思想不够   且   踢球  并不尽全力去踢!
4      中国 足球的  长期 堕落  使得 国家 并不关心 中国 足球了!

1. The Chinese football couches are bad in quality and have little experience.
2. We are yet to develop Chinese people's virtue and morality. There are many deals in the dark…
3. Football players are not playing hard as they are side tracked by other considerations.
5. Chinese football has been doomed for a long period of time and the country does not care about it anymore.

June 30 2010

World Cup 2010: Who's to blame for Nigeria's performance?

By Eremipagamo Amabebe

Nigerian football fans were disappointed Tuesday when the team's final chance of advancing in the 2010 World Cup evaporated in a 2-2 tie with South Korea. At the start of the Cup, the  future looked promising: Nigeria is one of the highest-ranked African teams (21st in FIFA's world rankings — second only to Egypt and Cameroon on the African continent); but the team has been burdened with setbacks, including the installation of a new coach only three weeks before the Cup and the red-carding of a star player.

For Nigeria fans, the Super Eagles' recent performance has been vexing: The team made an impressive World Cup debut in 1994, but soon after began to slip, and have not won a Cup match since 1998. Many hoped that 2010 might be a turning point, but Tuesday's result made clear that those watching for a Nigerian football renaissance will have to wait until 2014 — if not longer.

In the blogosphere, disappointment was the prevailing emotion, though many fans were not surprised by the outcome. “They were never going to win that game,” wrote Bc Osunneye:

Failed hotel bookings, broken down aircraft, failed friendlies, shifted friendly venues, failed meetings between coach and players, shortlisting of players on paper, NFF still owing Chukwu, Eguavoen and Amodu [Former Super Eagles coaches] for work done close to 5 years [ago] now are all just a few in the catalog of ineptitude.

Adeola Aderounmu pointed to corruption as one of the grounds for the team's poor performance:

What are the criteria used for getting players into the national team? I have spoken to at least 2 ex-internationals and their responses are very heartbreaking. In some circumstances Nigerian politicians, dictators and family members have influenced the selection of players into the national team. There are stories (from the past) of bribing of coaches to get players selected into the team.

Others blamed Sani Kaita for the team's failure. Kaita horrified fans by becoming the first Nigerian player to be sent off the field during a World Cup match, after he received a red card for attempting to kick a rival player. The red card was particularly rankling as Nigeria had started the match promisingly: The score stood at 1-0 before the incident. Team spokesman Peterside Idah said that Kaita received more than 1000 death threats from fans in the wake of the Greece match.

Nigerian Curiosity found humor in the incident and coined a new verb:

KAITA (Kai-ta)

v. Kai*ta, Kai*tas, kai*ta'ed, kai*ta'ing

1. To single-handedly dash the hopes and aspirations of one's nation in the full glare of other nations

2. To karate-kick your way out of the greatest stage/spotlight ever known to man

3. To destroy/zap/siphon the energies of teammates plus 140 million people through unexplainable stupidity

4. To act foolishly, unintelligently or irrationally and IMMEDIATELY regret the action by falling on your knees

Usage:

1. “Please, please, do not KAITA what we have been building for 50 years o! Oloshi!”

2. “I don't care what people say, I will KAITA the multi-billion dollar plan!”

Fans also complained about the replacement of Shaibu Amodu with Swedish coach Lars Lagerbäck just three weeks before the Cup. Echoing a New York Times article, Chxta wondered why Amodu wasn't replaced with a qualified Nigerian coach:

“Why do we have this terrible inferiority complex? … I say build from the bottom up… Let's gather the most intelligent of our ex-players - I suggest Siasia/Oliseh - and get them to mould a team that fits into the character of the nation.

Max Siollun, present at the match with South Korea, lamented the annoyingness of Nigerian fans:

Right behind me was a Nigerian with a smaller flag, who kept waving it and resting it on my head. I told him several times that my head was not a flag pole and to get it off me. Yet he persisted in wrapping the flag around my head continually. At one point, he had the temerity to get annoyed with ME for complaining about having a flag draped over my head from behind. He then proceeded to mutter insults about me to his friend in his native tongue.

Finding no silver lining in Nigeria's performance, Bc Osunneye took comfort in posting photos from the team's glory days: “Would we see moments like this?” he wrote.

Below the question he posted a video of his favorite moment in Nigerian Football: Sunday Oliseh's winning goal against Spain in 1998.


For more highlights of the team's World Cup history see here.

June 14 2010

Greece: World Cup-Mania Provides Respite from Financial Crisis

By Asteris Masouras

Despite the dire financial crisis unfolding in Greece, many Greeks have taken to the ‘social media World Cup‘ with gusto - perhaps hoping for a repeat of the amazing and uplifting victory in the Euro 2004 championship rather than a rehash of the national team's abysmal performance at the 1994 World Cup at the feet of Argentina and Nigeria.

Wishing good luck to the Greek national team, blogger Roides guiltlessly and poetically proclaimed:

Το Μουντιάλ παραμένει γιορτή των αισθήσεων, του πάθους. Αγαπώ τη μπάλα, έπαιξα σε αλάνες και σε γήπεδα, μάτωσα παθιάστηκα ίδρωσα έκλαψα και γέλασα. Οι πρώτες αγάπες, οι μεγάλες, δεν ξεχνιούνται.

Παρόλη την ακραία εμπορευματοποίηση, το ποδόσφαιρο συνεχίζει να κουβαλά εκείνο το άλλο, το μυστήριο της μαγείας, μια ευφάνταστη ντρίμπλα σε ανύποπτο χρόνο είναι αρκετή να αποφόρτιση θετικά όλο σου το είναι, όλα μεμιάς ξεχνιούνται, χρέη, υποχρεώσεις, άγχη –όλα στον καιάδα.

Ποιος να ξέρει, ίσως τα ανήσυχα πνεύματα των μεγάλων Πορτογάλων θαλασσοπόρων του Ντα Γκάμα, του Ντιάζ, εκεί στο ιστορικό Algoa Bay, με τα βουβά  θαλάσσια ρεύματα, στην πόλη των ανέμων, μας επιφυλάσσουν συγκινήσεις.

The World Cup remains the celebration of senses, of passion. I love football, I've played in alleys and fields, I bled, got passionate, sweated, cried and laughed. First loves, the big ones, cannot be forgotten. Despite rampant commercialism, football continues to convey that other, the mystery of magic. An imaginative dribble that catches you unawares is enough to positively discharge your whole being, everything is at once forgotten: debts, obligations, anxieties -everything down the drain.

Who knows, maybe the restless spirits of the great Portuguese seafarers, Da Gama and Diaz, there at historic Algoa Bay, with it's mute sea currents, city of the winds, portend thrills for us.

Twitter is naturally dominated by talk of the World Cup these days, especially during the games, when dozens of users take to commenting the games with instant fervor. AntidraSports, quipped on the mostly ballistic USA - England game:

Τυχεροί οι θεατές των άνω διαζωμάτων. Το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του ματς, παίζεται στο ύψος τους. (όσο πιο ψηλά, τόσο πιο καλά).

Upper quadrant fans are lucky; most of the game is played on their level (the higher, the better)

World Cup and politics go together like football and beer, of course. Constantinos Alexacos wryly commented:

Αργεντινή Ελλάδα, διαιτητής θα παίξει ο Στρος Κααν

The Argentina Greece game will be refereed by [IMF managing director] Stauss-Kahn

On Twitter, team name “hashflags” that make national flag icons appear in tweets, and the #worldcup hashtag that shows a little football, became an instant hit, even with non-fans. Nikos Fotakis admitted:

δεν μ' ενδιαφέρει το μουντιάλ, αλλά μου αρέσει αυτή η σαχλαμαρίτσα με την μπαλίτσα #outofyourculticloset #sucker #worldcup

I don't care about the World Cup, but I like the silly little ball thingy #outofyourculticloset #sucker #worldcup

Vivian Efthimiopoulou tried the obvious: “Come on little ball! Out with you! #worldcup”

The vuvuzela, a South African favorite noisemaker whose sound dominates games in the World Cup, also dominated conversations in the Greek Twittersphere. Most just hated it, despite there being similar Greek instruments, sometimes employed in stadiums. Stavros Papadakis described their sound with a literary simile from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings,

λες και παίζουν στους βάλτους με τα κουνούπια στη Gorgoroth!

it's as if they're playing in the mosquito swamps of Gorgoroth!

Even animals were apparently affected. Anastasia Kamvissi protested that:

Οι γάτες μου, έξαλλες με τις βουβουζέλες, θέλουν να φάνε την τηλεόραση

My cats are incensed at the vuvuzelas,  they want to eat the TV set

Nikos Anagnostou mused on the linguistic roots of the word:

Αυτό το -ζέλα στο βουβουζέλα πρέπει να έχει μουσική σημασία. Μου θυμίζει τον ΜουφλουΖΕΛΗ (ρεμπέτης) και τον ΚουκουΖΕΛΗ (βυζαντ. υμνογράφος)

That -zela in vouvouzela must have a musical significance. It reminds me of Mouflouzelis (rembetiko musician) and Koukouzelis (byzantine hymn writer)

On the day of the Greek national team's first match with South Korea, June 12,  fans were jubilant. As political tensions between the two Koreas were flaring, xtsanos teasingly cheered the team on,

Πάμε ρε Ελλαδάρα! Κάνε χαρούμενο τον Κιμ-Γιονγκ Ιλ :-P #gre #wc10gr

Go Greece! Make Kim Jong-Il happy :-p #gre #wc10gr

But the Greek team probably didn't make the North Korean leader happy. It was generally agreed they played a wretched game. Eric Parks summed up the first half of the game:

We're behind, ref denied Koreans a clear penalty & they had the best chance so far. Ah, I can smell the summer of 94′ already #worldcup  #gre

XML guru Tim Bray wondered,

So is #kor really as great as they're looking, or is #gre just having a really bad day? #worldcup

… to which software developer Vassilis Rizopoulos replied:

@timbray #kor are good enough, but #gre is not really having a bad day…it's their normal state. ‘04 was a fluke #worldcup

The World Cup even brought legendary blogs out of hiatus. Yorgos Panzaris reassessed his predictions made 4 years ago on Reality Tape,

Φυσικά έπεσα έξω σχεδόν σε όλα τα τολμηρά — τέσσερα χρόνια μοιάζουν πάρα πολλά την επομένη του τελικού, ελάχιστα σήμερα

Of course, my guess was off on all the daring bets - 4 years seem quite a lot on the next day of the final, but only a few today

Dribble & Drink, a collective blog for humorous football punditry created during the last World Cup was also resurrected. A contributor nicknamed The Grass waxes lyrically on the supposedly mythological significance of low play:

Είναι ίσως γραφτό σε μια εποχή που η ανθρωπότητα παρακμάζει αναζητώντας αξίες και πρότυπα, το πρώτο mundial στην Αφρικανική ήπειρο - εκεί που άρχισαν όλα - να σημαδευτεί από την θριαμβευτική επιστροφή στις ρίζες [..] Το ποδόσφαιρο κατοχής της σφαίρας και διατήρησης της ιερής σχέσης που έχει αυτή με το γκαζόν

In an era when a declining humanity seeks values and role-models, maybe it's fated for the first World Cup in the African continent -where everything began- to perform a triumphant return to football's roots [..] To ball possession and the preservation of it's sacred relation to the grass

Not everyone was happy with the attention garnered by the World Cup, however. Eleftheria Katsianou openly warned about the football “war of the sexes”,

Όσο οι αντρες θα βλέπουν μπαλα για ένα μηνα, οι γυναίκες θα “παίζουν” μπάλα ελεύθερα. Thank u #mundial

As long as men will be watching football for a month, women will be free to “play ball”. Thank u #mundial

Arkoudos poignantly commented on the political aspect of the whole globe turning it's gaze to spectator sports for a month with a new “issue” of his faux-magazine, Point of View. The caption on the cover reads: “Come on kid, don't pretend you don't understand. It's the World Cup.”

May 21 2010

South Africa: Build up to the World Cup

By Muhammad Karim

With 20 days left to the the greatest spectacle showcasing the “beautiful game” in South Africa, there has been a lot of preparation going on behind the scenes and a lot of talk in the South African blogosphere on various issues surrounding the World Cup. There is Official Government site covering the World Cup where all the “official” information and updates on what is being done to prepare for the World Cup can be found.

Still not sure what exactly the World Cup is and especially clueless on any information about the World Cup 2010? The World Cup Blog has a great Beginners' Guide to the World Cup which covers the basics very succinctly.

First up in the blogosphere, though, let's start with traffic situation. The Portfolio Travel Blog points out various road closures which will be taking place in Cape Town around the time of the World Cup:

The City of Cape Town has released the following road closure information for all in the Mother City during the World Cup.

“Traffic will be affected on match days in Cape Town during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ due to a number of necessary road closures. The City asks the public to be aware of these and to plan their routes and travel times accordingly.We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” said the City’s Director: Communication and 2010 Spokesperson, Pieter Cronje.

Public transport services have been extended as part of the City’s transport plan for the event.

“We encourage commuters to utilise these extended public transport services offered by the City,” said Peter Sole, Manager: 2010 Transport Operations.

All trains and certain train stations will have additional security for the duration of the World Cup. In addition, the use of non-motorised transport and car pooling is greatly encouraged.

You can get all the additional details on these road closures by visiting the full blog post. I hope the same is not the same for the other host cities. I'm sure this is a special case.

Keeping with the theme of transport, The Mpumalanga Explorer highlights how the FIFA World Cup Official page is misrepresenting information about one particular town which will host a few World Cup Games, Nelspruit.

The Mpumalanga Province is regarded as one of the most tourist-friendly provinces in South Africa. Despite its close proximity to some neighbouring countries, such as Mozambique, the province is also less than three hours drive from Johannesburg and some four hours from Polokwane” Fair enough all this is factual. I am guessing that at some point along the border of Mpumalanga you could get to Polokwane in four hours, but the facts are that it would take another 2 hours from there to Nelspruit. The FIFA World Cup™ tournament games are being held in Mpumalanga, but more specifically Nelspruit which is approximately 360 km's from Johannesburg, which distance can be covered in 3 hours with no stops and no other traffic if the rules of the road are adhered to. Polokwane is another couple of hours from Johannesburg going north.

Aside from the world-acclaimed Kruger National Park which is the main tourist destination in Mpumalanga Province, very little is known about this province and its surroundings.” What utter claptrap. Mpumalanga is known for more than just the Kruger Park. Making it sound like Mpumalanga is largely unexplored and wild is foolish. The roads in Mpumalanga, specifically in the Lowveld are largely tarred. We have many tourists visiting the smaller towns like Graskop, Hazyview Sabie and Barberton because of the attractions they offer. These towns are not unknown as much as FIFA wish to claim that.

The blog does go into other inaccurate information on the FIFA World Cup page. It seems FIFA's not done it's homework on this one.

Some great news now for World Cup Ticket Holders from Capeinfo blogs…there is free Metrorail for World Cup ticket holders:

Metrorail will transport match ticket holders of the 2010 FIFA World Cup free of charge on its special dedicated trains to host stadiums.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will run special commuter services through its Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl intercity services during the tournament.

This is an additional special train service over and above the normal services provided, and will be synchronised according to match schedules.

Additional rail services will be scheduled to cope with the demand as government has promised that by 2010 there will be a train available every five minutes during peak times. Train services will be running between 14 and 16 hours every day.

Metrorail Gauteng Region will service a total of 12 routes namely Soccer City with 14 train sets, Coca-Cola Park with 13 train sets and Loftus Versfeld with 14 more trains.

The short routes include Pretoria to Rissik station, Johannesburg to Nasrec station, Westgate to Nasrec station as well as Westgate to Doornfontein station.

All stations will start operating from 5am to 10pm on match days while for late games, stations will operate until midnight.

Each soccer train will be staffed with a team of ten ticket officers, both to and from venue stations. One inspector or supervisor will be deployed on each soccer train.

Shosholoza Meyl, with an active coach fleet of 1 223, already runs on 19 scheduled routes stopping at 95 stations, while Metrorail services 468 stations in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and the Eastern Cape.

Regional and cross-border train services have been revised to coincide with matches in the various host cities, this includes the scheduling of dedicated trains to matches and from outside the Gauteng region.

Passengers will be able to choose between the various products such as the Tourist Class Train Service, Economy Train Service and Premier Class.

The train services will run from Musina in Limpopo, Komatipoort, Rustenburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. Passengers will then connect to Metrorail trains to take them to their respective games.

Great news for World Cup enthusiasts wondering how they will be able to attend matches in different cities.

VOANews blog has a post giving a high five to the South Africa World Cup 2010 official Mascot, Zakumi.

World Cup mascots usually show a characteristic feature of the host country. One of my objectives during my first trip to South Africa in June is to give a high-five to Zakumi, the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup.
Zakumi is a leopard, a common animal found in South Africa, and his green and gold colors represent the national colors of South Africa’s national sports teams. A high-five for you, Zakumi!

Green Point Stadium and Capetown Daily Photo's gives us a great picture of the New Green Point Stadium taken from the old one:

Covering some humorous content around the World Cup, Dizzy Dee blogs about a US broadcast which actually confused which continent the World cup will be held on:

Note the photo in the article above shows South America, while the heading over the image reads “South Africa“. Seems like there is some confusion in the US as to which continent exactly hosts the Soccer World Cup during 2010.

Kameraad Mhambi blogs about a Netherlands based group called De Zoltans, which sings a song “Zuid-Afrika” based on the tune of YMCA and is all about the World Cup, absolutely hilarious:

A friend Lizelle living in the Netherlands sent me this. A song called Zuid-Afrika about the Football World Cup.

Moenie my glo as ek sê die Hollanders is sokkerbefok nie. Check maar gewoon hier.

Not quite Die Antwoord. The Dutchies are one of the teams with a chance of lifting the cup.

Just for your information, Die Antwoord are a white South African Based Hip-Hop group which has gained tremendous popularity with their music being spread solely over the internet. They are available on Youtube.

Bringing it all back on a more sombre note, Medialternatives blogs about Fifa, Racism and the World Cup.

FIFA continues to fund apartheid-era companies in South Africa. DSTV SUPERSPORT for example has rights to broadcast live coverage of the World Cup event in High Definition, but its holding company Sanlam/Naspers remains engaged in a lengthy labour dispute involving racism and discrimination in which gross failures in the coverage of issues affecting previously disadvantaged communities have come to light.

SuperSport channels “will provide spectators with full coverage of the World Cup event”. A DSTV official has stated: “there will be a 24-hour coverage and we will be bringing the games on High Definition (HD).” Yet millions without the luxury of HD languish in poverty caused as a result of FIFA partners.

Racism, whether in low or high definition is still racism, and apartheid however misconstrued via Satellite or Cable TV is still apartheid. FIFA should not allow its brand to be associated with a company which failed to make a submission to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

In the final report Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu questioned the sincerity of Afrikaner-dominated media houses such as Media24: “Is silence from that quarter to be construed as consent, conceding that it was a sycophantic handmaiden of the apartheid government?”

In the commissions findings Naspers/Media24/MNET were condemned for their complicity in the apartheid system: ‘[Naspers] chose to provide direct support for apartheid and the activities of the security forces — many of which led directly to gross human rights violations.”

It's an interesting viewpoint and one that isn't much covered in the blogosphere, let alone mainstream media.

An element of hope is stirred by kameraad mhambi again in a blog post on two rugby teams (one being known as the most ‘afrikaner' team) who, because of the World Cup, will be playing their match in Soweto of all places…

This weekend, due to the Football World Cup, history will be made when the Blue Bulls play the Crusaders in the Super 14 Rugby tournament in Soweto.

The Bulls, from Pretoria, traditionally are seen as the most Afrikaner off all South Africa Rugby Unions. The game will be an opportunity to smash or reinforce some stereo types.

Ending off on a very inspirational note, especially when it comes to motivating the teams themselves, Hyundai have had a competition coming up with Team slogans for each country which has qualified for the World Cup. Below are their results…

Algerie - Star and crescent with one goal: Victory!

Argentina - Última parada, la gloria - Last stop: Glory

Australia - Dare to Dream, Advance Australia

Brazil - Lotado! O Brasil inteiro está aqui dentro! - The whole of Brazil is in here!

Cameroon - Les lions indomptables sont de retour - The Indomitable Lions are back

Chile - Roja la sangre de mi corazón, Chile campeón - Red is the blood of my heart, Chile will be Champion

Cote D Ivoire - Eléphants, battons nous pour la victoire! - Elephants, let's fight for victory!

Denmark - Det eneste der kræves, er et dansk hold og en drøm - All you need is a Danish team and a dream

England - Playing with Pride and Glory

France - Tous ensemble vers un nouveau rêve bleu - All together for a new dream in blue

Germany - Auf dem Weg zum Cup! - On the road to get the Cup!

Ghana - The hope of Africa

Greece - Η Ελλάδα είναι παντού! - Greece is everywhere!

Honduras -Un país, una pasión, ¡5 estrellas en el corazón! - One Country, One passion, 5 Stars in the heart

Italy - Il nostro Azzurro nel cielo d'Africa - Italian Azzurro on African sky

Japan - 侍魂はくじけない!日本勝利! - The Samurai spirit never dies! Victory for Japan!

Korea DRP - 또다시 1966년처럼, 조선아 이겨라 ! - 1966 again! Victory for DPR of Korea!

Mexico - ¡Es tiempo de un nuevo campeón! - It is time for a new champion!

Netherlands - Let niet op de grote 5, maar pas op voor de oranje 11 - Don't fear the big five, fear the Orange eleven

New Zealand - Kickin' it Kiwi style

Nigeria - Super Eagles super fan united we stand

Paraguay - El león Guaraní ruge en Sudáfrica - The Guarani lion roars in South Africa!

Portugal - Um sonho, uma ambição…Portugal campeão! - One dream, one purpose… Portugal victorious!

Republic of Korea - 승리의 함성, 하나된 한국 - The Shouts of Reds, United Republic of Korea

Serbia - Igramo srcem, vodimo osmehom! - Play with the heart, lead with a smile!

Slovakia - Rozbehnime to: Slovensko do toho! - Shake the green field: Go Slovakia!

Slovenia - Z enajstimi pogumnimi srci do konca - With eleven brave hearts to the end

South Africa - One nation, proudly united under one rainbow

Spain - Ilusión es mi camino, Victoria mi destino - Hope is my road, victory my destiny

Switzerland - Hopp Schwiiz! - “Hop Suisse!” - “Forza Svizzera!” - “C'mon Switzerland!”

Uruguay - El sol brilla sobre nosotros. ¡Vamos Uruguay! - The sun shines upon us. Go Uruguay!

USA - Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Victory!

All in all the country and the world are excited about the upcoming World Cup. There will be a few hiccups I'm sure, but overall it all seems to point to a hopeful and colourful World Cup 2010.

South Africa: Economic Benefits of 2010 World Cup for Africa

By Richard Wanjohi

It is always the fun bit that we focus on when thinking about major world tournaments. There is the other side, which has corporate gurus and the business world talking. The opportunities and benefits of hosting the 2010 World Cup have been highlighted by a couple of bloggers from across the continent; mainly from South Africa – the host of course.

Football Fans in South Africa


We start by quoting TheSportsEconomistwho puts monetary figures related to the World Cup into perspective:

This BBC story has a number of figures on the costs and revenues of staging this year’s World Cup in South Africa. Among them (in British pounds):
• FIFA’s expected revenue: £2.1bn
• FIFA’s budget: £800m
• Recent increase to ensure training camps are in good condition: £67m (included above)
• South Africa’s budget: £3.5bn, or 1.72% of GDP
The expense incurred in South Africa is for building and renovating 10 stadiums, improved transport infrastructure, and security. You can learn a bit about the stadiums here; they appear to be smartly designed…

But how much money will South Africa generate?:

No figures are given for the anticipated revenues that the country expects to generate. But let’s do some work on the back of an envelope. A total of 48 group games, 15 knockout games, and the third place game are to be played. The ten stadiums have an average capacity of just over 56,000. The average ticket price looks to be in the range of $200 (that’s using the median of the category two bracket, which is a bit generous). If all games were to sell out at an average price of $200, that would total $717m in ticket revenue…. The story notes an accountant from the firm Grant Thornton believes that the 1.72% of GDP in direct expenses is “affordable” because it provided an economic stimulus for the country in the midst of a global economic downturn. The story also states that FIFA’s general secretary “was confident the event would leave a lasting legacy on the country and the African continent.

The DailyStocks.com and MoneyMorning go deeper and look at the economic prospects both from within and from beyond the South Africa borders in their posts:

We have said continuously that this is an African World Cup,” South African President Jacob Zuma told parliament last week. “We have an opportunity to promote foreign investment, tourism and trade.”South Africa spent a total of $3.7 billion on infrastructure improvements, including a new international airport in Durban and a high-speed train between the Johannesburg airport and the city center, the Miami Herald… Analysts estimate that the World Cup will rake in $2 billion for South Africa’s tourism industry, and $1.1 billion for retailers. But the real hope is for longer lasting effects to emerge.“We all need to grab this opportunity to show our visitors what South Africa is all about. We need to work together with creative insight and energy after the World Cup to maintain arrivals to South Africa,” Thandiwe January McLean, CEO of South African Tourism told the Economic Times. “This World Cup offers our industry and nation a rich legacy. We should not see World Cup as one event that solves all economic issues, but rather an opportunity to refine the way we do things and create a legacy for the future.

Nigeria is set to capitalise on the event:

Nigeria, which is competing at the World Cup, plans to open an exhibition on the sidelines of the tournament to promote investment in the oil-rich nation. “We wish to showcase Nigeria and its enormous potentials via a Nigeria village at the World Cup,” Sani Lulu, head of the Nigeria Football Federation, told AFP.

Puma's Blog, one of the main apparel sponsors of the tournament talks about marketing and advertising:

World Cup marketing, business marketing is usually taken to have the World Cup sponsorship, naming, please football star for product spokesperson, introduced the concept of product design as well as the World Cup jersey to buy advertising, stadium advertising and other forms. Sports Marketing from input-output ratio of view, by sponsoring the World Cup and soccer star hired as a spokesperson to enhance cat puma shoes brand image, at least three to five times the investment in sponsorship. In order to make huge investment value for the enterprise marketing platform in the World Cup must find the right market opportunities, through appropriate media platforms, will be the right message to the appropriate audience.

An older post written by one of Kenyan’s leading business bloggers, Bankelelelooks at how Africa, particularly Kenya, can benefit from the World Cup:

Tourism: The World Cup will draw thousands of people making their first or a rare trip to African continent, which can yyield opportunities for locales outside South Africa
- Beach tourism: The World Cup is associated with summer, but takes place in winter in SA (southern hemisphere), and while the weather will be relatively mild compared to Europe and US winters, its not beach strolling weather like you could get in Mombasa, Zanzibar or Seychelles.
- Regional packages: Ethiopian Airlines has travel packages that cover more than one country e.g. see the attractions of Ethiopia, Tanzania, Egypt, and Kenya and will probably sell those in SA. Likewise Kenya Airways (or local agents) who will probably have travelers from Thailand and China can draw on the same to entice people on the way back e.g. also tour the Great Rift highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia and visit athletic camps to see where world beating Olympic athletes hone their skills.

He discusses the role of governments:

Governments: there are opportunities for proactive governments to get involved and promote their countries with marketing campaigns, or with travel advice for locals, expedited transit visas (JKIA) or passport renewals. See what UK government is doing.

On a lighter note though, a blog appropriately named BeerBeer, says that there shall be enough alcoholic drinks to take care of the football fans who may seek a way of having fun. “World Cup fans need not fret, South Africa will not run out of beer during the month-long tournament…,” says beerbeer:

World Cup fans need not fret, South Africa will not run out of beer during the month-long tournament, its biggest brewer says. There’s no need to worry, guys. There will be plenty of our beer for all the fans during this period,’ said Norman Adami, managing director of South African Breweries, the local arm of global drinks giant SABMiller. The company, which produces roughly nine of every ten bottles of beer drunk in South Africa, is predicting a 5 per cent increase in sales during the tournament starting on June 11. However, it will be able to meet the extra demand – equivalent to 30 million bottles – because the southern hemisphere winter is normally its slowest sales period, Adami said… Budweiser, owned by SABMiller rival Anheuser-Busch InBev and an official Fifa partner, is the only authorised supplier inside stadiums. SAB will be allowed to sell beer at 10 Fifa fan parks in the World Cup cities, but only in unmarked bottles to avoid breaching Fifa’s jealously guarded rights rules.

Finally the SouthAfrica.Info blog, says though the projections have been reduced, the estimates still indicate a ‘massive impact’ by the tournament,

Indications are that overseas tourists will stay an average of 18 days compared to the 14 days used in the original projections,” said Saunders. “Average overseas tourist spend per trip is also forecast to be up, at R30 200 compared to the R22 000 used before…. The gross economic impact will be R93-billion, with 62% expected to be generated pre-2010 and 38% during the course of the year. Foreign tourism will account for 16% of the gross impact… “We continue to be upbeat about the impact of the World Cup,” said Saunders. “The stadia will be full and it will be great event; the profiling of South Africa and future spin-offs have always been the real benefit of hosting an event of this magnitude.

May 04 2010

South Africa:2010 FIFA World Cup theme song raises interesting views

By Richard Wanjohi

As is the norm with any major tournament especially the World Cup, the 2010 World Cup has its song out approximately a month to the event. The song features world renowned Latino female singer Shakira along with South Africa’s own Freshly Ground.

WorldCupBlog has nothing against Shakira but why should the song be sung by a Colombian?:

Shakira featuring Freshly Ground - Waka Waka(This is Africa) Source: World Cup 2010 Theme Song

…I’ve nothing against Shakira. But does it seem odd to anyone else that the official song for the World Cup in South Africa will be sung by a hot Colombian lady? True, she’s backed up by South African band Freshlyground, but it’s very much Shakira front and center here.
It continues and gives us a brief history of the original track, Zangalewa by group formerly known as Golden Sounds now known by the title song which made them famous across the continent

Apparently, the song does not fit the event:

The only problem is that the catchy part – the chorus – is borrowed from the popular song ‘Zangaléwa’ by the Cameroonian band originally known as Golden Sounds (who later changed their name to Zangaléwa because the song was so popular). The band was apparently made up of ex-Cameroonian military who were fond of dressing up and acting silly. Apparently the lyrics are in the Fang dialect of Cameroon, and the key refrain of ‘zangaléwa’, translates as ‘who sent you?’ Which is at least fitting for a World Cup. Some further (but not much further) interpretation comes from the Latino music blog Guanabee. The song, music historians say, is a criticism of black military officers who were in league with whites to oppress their own people. Or at least, some of it was. Some of it, as far was we can surmise, is gibberish.

KennyNaija, a blogger from Nigeria, captures the controversy the song brewed in South African radio stations:

The song hit radio stations last week, with Johannesburg locals responding with comments like “It's horrible” and “How is Shakira going to sing the African part of it?” (My guess is with her voice, but a Speak & Spell could be a fun choice, too.). The Colombian singer collaborated with South African band Freshlyground on the track, which borrows from a Cameroonian song called “Zangalewa.” But the fact that the anthem for South Africa's World Cup is not being sung by a South African is the sticking point for the critics who aren't just opposed to the new tune itself.

Martin Myers, a blogger, DJ and publicist, discusses FIFA and Sony Music Entertainment announcement of the song as the official song:

FIFA and Sony Music Entertainment today announced that Waka Waka (This Time For Africa), written and co-produced by global superstar Shakira, has been chosen as the Official Song of the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa. The song will be performed by Shakira together with South African artist Freshlyground at the Closing Ceremony before the FIFA World Cup™ Final on July 11 in Johannesburg Soccer City Stadium. All proceeds from the song will benefit FIFA’s Official Campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ “20 Centers for 2010.

He also captures Sepp Blatter’s thoughts of the song as well as Shakira’s comments on the honour of getting selected to do the song:

The Official Song is as much awaited by the fans as the Mascot or the Logo. It is part of the identity of the world’s most exciting sport’s event. This song is the personification of the African rhythm and identity and sets the pace for this unique event. I am looking forward to hear the song throughout the tournament and watch it performed by Shakira and Freshlyground at the Final”, said Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA President”
“‘I am honored that Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) was chosen to be part of the excitement and the legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,’ said Shakira. ‘The FIFA World Cup is a miracle of global excitement, connecting every country, race, religion and condition around a single passion. It represents an event that has the power to unite and integrate, and that’s what this song is about.’ Shakira continued, ‘African music is so inspiring and is poised to take its place on the global pop culture stage. I was proud to be able to work with one of South Africa’s most acclaimed groups, Freshlyground.’ The song was co-produced by Shakira’s frequent collaborator, John Hill

Brown Shuga of JustCurious, an entertainment blog, says he loves the song but has a problem with the official video:

I had to listen to it about 3 times before I decided I liked the song…I love the song, but if this is the official video then I have a problem… where are my boys?

He takes us through the history of the song:

Zamina” or “Zangaléwa” is a 1986 hit song, originally sung by a makossa group from Cameroon called Golden Sounds who were beloved throughout the continent for their silly dances and costumes. The song was such a hit for Golden Sounds that they eventually changed their name to Zangaléwa, too.The song pays tribute to African skirmishers (a.k.a tirailleurs) during WW2. Most of the band members were in the Cameroonian Army themselves and used make up, fake belly and fake butt for comic relief. The song is still used today by soldiers, policemen, boy scouts, sportsmen and their supporters, usually during training or for rallying. It is also widely used in schools throughout the country as a marching song and almost everyone in the country knows the chorus of the song by heart.

April 17 2010

South Africa: Ticketing woes as 2010 World Cup approaches

As FIFA World Cup 2010 approaches, FIFA has launched its final ticket drive targeting South African and indeed world football fans as the biggest sporting event lands on the ‘Cape of Good Hope’. Initial estimates for sales target at least 500,000 to be churned out through the retail outlets and other easy-to-reach areas.

As reported by White Cottage Blog, the first day was characterized by chaos and even one fan lost their life after collapsing while queuing to purchase a ticket:

The first day of the last phase of ticket sales for the World Cup has resulted in chaos, with queues at sales points, one soccer fan dying of a heart attack in the queue, and the FNB system being off-line.

The blog also notes that:

…greedy and opportunistic “speculators” bought tickets, with the aim of reselling them, at a profit one would assume, and have now discovered, even though it was clearly stipulated during the purchase process, that one cannot resell them, as the ID number of the ticket purchasers are printed on the tickets. This means that sellers of tickets cannot even give them away for free!

The Soccerphile Blog gave a more personal account:

After being told by FIFA that there were tickets for all games, people who had been queuing from 0700 finally got to the counter at around 1400 to be told that only Category 1 tickets were available for some games

The 5th Official has this to say about the ticket sales as they got underway:

A total of 1610 tickets were sold to 310 customers nationally at the Ticketing Centres within the first hour after they opened at 9am this morning, with 2166 tickets also sold to 470 fans at FNB branches. The integrated Ticketing System, which manages all sales channels experienced huge countrywide demand; as a result experiencing some delays initially in the processing of ticket orders.

The Worldbbnews.com, managed to get the Chief Executive Danny Jordaan who sought to clear the air about the chaos:

Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the World Cup organising committee, shrugged off the complaints: “It happens when you use technology. The moment you want not to have a glitch, you have a glitch. We printed tickets this morning and it was working perfectly. Then when you come and the cameras are here, somehow the machine gets shy and it doesn’t happen. But I’m happy it’s back online.”

Danny Jordaan said this to a British journalist:

I don’t think you understand chaos. It seems you have never been with football fans buying tickets. The experience today is exactly the same as buying a Manchester United or Arsenal ticket.…

In Pretoria, An American in Pretoriahad this to say:

I drove across Pretoria today. One of the robots was out and traffic was nightmarish. When I finally arrived at my destination there were throngs of people standing in a queue that snaked through two shopping malls - twisting, turning, suffocating any empty space in a two-block radius…World Cup tickets were available for public sale. The crowd was so thick I couldn't leave or go anywhere, so I sat in a cafe for three hours.

The World Soccer Blog says that South Africans do not seem to be interested in buying the tickets:

Over 500,000 tickets went on sale in SA over the counter in the final phase. Organizers are confronted with the Herculean task of selling these in the next two months or risk seeing sparsely attended matches. Ticket sales have been brisk in the USA, flat in Europe, and in Japan and generally in Asia, they have been disappointing.

But there are indications that South Africans themselves are not coming out in droves to buy. The danger is the lower profile matches involving nations like New Zealand, Slovenia, Algeria, and Greece. The SA government is also resorting to waiving visa fees at the point of entry in a bid to attract more World Cup fans. They are also setting up fast track channels to expedite visa processing.

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