Tag Archives: world cup

England are in the final 16

England went into this World Cup with the presumption that we were in an easy group. One of the tabloid papers even used the headline ‘easy’ when the draw was made by FIFA.

How wrong the pundits were.

And now we are through, we have a crunch match with Germany on Sunday. I’ll be at the Hyde Park Calling music festival on Sunday watching it on the big screen.

It’s no longer the case that the countries with the best leagues produce the best national team. Germany were struggling against Ghana last night. France are out. Italy are struggling as I write this blog. Any national team that has qualified for the world cup finals will be a challenge because of player mobility.

Look at the African sides as a great example. The best players end up playing in leagues all over Europe and the national football association in almost all the African nations has gone out and hired experienced foreign coaches. So if your players are getting experience of the Premier league or Serie A, and you have a team coach with national experience (like Sven at Ivory Coast), then how can the team be considered weak anymore?

Not having a well established league of your own is no longer a barrier to world cup success. Wouldn’t it be great to see a team like Ghana go all the way to the final?
Mexico v South Africa on Copacabana Beach

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Why ban the vuvuzela?

Why is everyone on the TV and radio talking about banning the vuvuzela, the plastic trumpet played by so many South Africans at the world cup football games that the crowd takes on the noise of a swarm of bees?

Callers to BBC radio 5 live today explained how they ‘don’t like the noise’ or ask ‘why don’t the fans sing songs like we do’?

Isn’t one of the aims of the FIFA World Cup to bring together fans from all nations and cultures and to remind them all that despite their differences, they all have a shared love of the same game? English fans sing songs about the team usually based on familiar tunes, but they have the huge advantage of a single language.

South African fans are in a country where 11 languages enjoy equal status and English is only the 5th most commonly used language. How can they create puns that would be enjoyed by the entire stadium?

And moving beyond the practicalities of language, has anyone considered just how colonial this debate sounds? If South African fans love to blow these trumpets at football matches, then why not join in, rather than preaching to them how fans are supposed to behave?

I hope FIFA doesn’t ban instruments before the Brazil world cup 2014. Everyone knows how much the Brazilians love to play music at matches, so a ban just because of disgruntled Europeans upset at Africans blowing trumpets would be a disaster.

Vuvuzela

A fair days pay for a fair days work

Around 300 stadium workers at the world cup stadium in Durban refused to go home after work last night, causing armed police to treat the protest as a potential riot – charging the staff with tear gas and firing rubber bullets.

But why did the police need to go in so heavy-handed? The workers seemed to have a genuine complaint and they managed to voice it eloquently to the media – how come the management of their company felt it was appropriate to call in the riot police?

In the dry run, where they did a complete practice session for a world cup game, the management did not tell the workers how much they would be earning. On the day of the game itself many of the workers left home at 7am and were still at the stadium at 1am that night – it was a long day.

Then they got pay packets containing 190 Rand ($25) when some of them had heard unconfirmed rumours (supposedly from FIFA) that the workers would be getting paid 1,500 Rand ($195).

Perhaps the contractor might want to speak to the media to explain why these workers had no form of contract, no idea of wht they would be earning, and no help getting home from the stadium at 1am? FIFA ought to be there mediating between these workers and the contractor, not watching the police pump rubber bullets into people asking for fair pay for very long days making sure the world cup games run smoothly.

What’s going to happen to the next Durban game if all 300 workers decide to just not bother showing up for work?

Is this the best place in London to watch the World Cup?

Where are you watching the World Cup games – especially the England ones? I was thinking about this at the weekend. I just landed from Rio on Saturday and I really did not fancy the idea of going straight out to a sports bar rammed full of drinkers in England shirts cheering the lads on – I was a bit tired. I did want to watch the game somewhere though…

I had ignored the idea that my local would be showing the game though as they don’t usually cover sports – it’s one of those pubs that is a refuge from big FA cup games. But then I noticed on their Facebook that they had set up screens both indoors and outdoors in the garden just for the World Cup! So, I headed over to the Rose & Crown in Ealing, where I could eat food in the garden (they have a BBQ going when it is sunny), enjoy a few pints of Fullers beer (£10 a bottle in São Paulo so I appreciated local prices), and watch the England game amongst a friendly crowd with table service for pints so nobody has to stop watching the game…

The best thing was that it was crowded, but not rammed… it was possible to find a seat and have some food watching the game with a good pub atmosphere, rather than some of the other local pubs where the England experience would be standing ten deep in fans with pints sloshing all over.

I know where I’m planning to enjoy a few more of the World Cup games… First England game of World Cup 2010

Brazil

I’m in Brazil and the place has gone world-cup-crazy!

São Paulo is covered in green and yellow flags and people are painting flags in the street! Can you just imagine England flags being painted all over every major road…?

Off to Rio on Wednesday to see how crazy things are there, and I should be able to watch the opening game on TV in Rio – then I’ll be flying home to London on Friday night.

Beckham our leader

David Beckham just handed over the England bid for the 2018 World Cup to FIFA.

Beckham used to be ridiculed for being a bit dim, vain, stereotypical, and not possessing any ability of communication – his efforts at public speaking were usually hampered by a staccato estuary English.

But in the past couple of years he has matured as a statesman for English support in a way that would have been thought impossible a decade ago. As his playing career declines, his ability to represent sport to international bodies and governments is clearly a direction he can move into with some confidence. He has even sorted out his speaking voice – listen to him talking about the 2018 bid with confidence and sounding more like a politician than a footballer.

If England win this bid, he should be the man charged with being the figurehead for the event.