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from Left field:

Things warming up nicely on the South African sporting front

SOCCER-CONFEDERATIONS/The South African sporting public were a little underwhelmed by the early stages of the Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions tour but the last few days has seen a major turnaround and there is now something in the air.

Relatively high ticket prices combined with the Sprinboks' decision to keep their players out of their Super 14 teams combined to ensure the early provincial games were played against a backdrop of empty seats.

Now, however, with the first test looming on Saturday, a ticket for King's Park is like gold dust. The few thousand Lions fans who followed the team round the country over the first three weeks have been joined by a massive influx for the tests.

Estimates are that more than 30,000 will arrive for some part of the tour and they were out in force in Durban this week. Balmy seaside temperatures, good cheap food and, vitally, even cheaper beer, makes the coastal resort a dream destination for rugby tourists.

from Left field:

Cristiano Ronaldo and why art, not the artist, is what matters

SOCCER-ENGLAND/RONALDOCristiano Ronaldo's obsession with scoring an unforgettable goal in the Champions League final makes perfect sense now the world knows he always intended to leave Manchester United afterwards for Real Madrid.

Reaction in England to his departure was captured in a Guardian headline: "United fans will miss outrageous talent but not a charmless man". Ronaldo, it was said, possessed sumptuous talent coupled with obnoxious self-regard.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

In defence of Giuseppe Rossi

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American soccer fans aren't noted for their nastiness but the reaction to Giuseppe Rossi, New Jersey native, scoring twice for Italy against the U.S in their 3-1 Confederations Cup defeat on Monday has been surprisingly vitriolic.

What has upset U.S fans is that Rossi was born and bred in the U.S. but chose to play for another country and then -- to add insult to injury -- celebrated when he scored twice against his country of birth.

from Africa News blog:

How will South Africa handle the World Cup?

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International football body FIFA expects about half a million fans to come to South Africa for the World Cup, which starts a year from now.

The country is experiencing its first recession in 17 years but it is hoped that the
infrastructure being built for the World Cup and the expected influx of tourists will give the economya boost.

from Africa News blog:

Africa? No thanks.

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The pivotal marketing position when South Africa were still bidding for the 2010 World Cup was the assertion it would be a tournament for all of the continent. ‘Africa’s bid’ was the pay-off line used throughout the successful campaign.

Using famous footballing personalities from around the continent, South Africa garnered widespread support with its all-inclusive approach against their Arab rivals in the race to win the right to host the event.

from Left field:

Bowled in the USA

If you think soccer is a hard sell in the United States then what about cricket? As we reported today, an American Premier League Twenty20 tournament is to be held in October on Staten Island, New York, with a cast made up largely of players from the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).

 

Usually whenever the words ‘cricket’ and ‘America’ are in the same sentence, it prompts laughter -– if the world’s most popular team sport, soccer, can’t breakthrough into the U.S. mainstream, what chance is there for cricket with rules and vocabulary that are unfathomable to most who haven’t grown up with the game?

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Everton to face Chelsea after Howard heroics see off United

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So, it will be an all-Blue FA Cup final this year, after Everton set up a date with Chelsea thanks to the penalty shoot-out heroics of goalkeeper Tim Howard in the semi-final against Manchester United.

Howard, a former United keeper, you may remember, saved the first two penalties from Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand and Everton didn't look back.

from Africa News blog:

Stumbling block for the Pharaohs?

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Egypt might have won the last two African Nations Cup tournaments but the Pharaohs seem to have hit a stumbling block when it comes to the World Cup.

For all their prowess at the last two continental championships, and their glittering array of successes at club level, Egyptian soccer is becoming increasingly haunted by the spectre of continued failure to make it to biggest footballing showpiece of them all.

from Africa News blog:

Did Dalai Lama ban make sense?

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Organisers have postponed a conference of Nobel peace laureates in South Africa after the government denied a visa to Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989 - five years after South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu won his and four years before Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk won theirs for their roles in ending the racist apartheid regime.

Although local media said the visa ban followed pressure from China, an increasingly important investor and trade partner, the government said it had not been influenced by Beijing and that the Dalai Lama's presence was just not in South Africa's best interest at the moment.

from Our Take on Your Take:

Soccer, defeat and Totti

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In a single image Davide Elias has captured one of AS Roma's most well-known players, Francesco Totti, and Arsenal's team logo during their Champions League match. AS Roma lost to Arsenal.

View this week's Your View showcase here.

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