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Since July’s World Cup final, which attracted an official attendance of 84 490, the crowds at Johannesburg’s Soccer City have been getting bigger and bigger.
On Saturday the attendance record was beaten again when South Africa hosted its League Cup final at the venue.
Conveniently the match was between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, the two best supported teams in the country whose intense rivalry has been enhanced by several additional, and unexpected, cup meetings in the recent months.
Over 90,000 braved traffic problems to turn up and see the Chiefs triumph 3-0, trumping the 88,791 that watched the August rugby test when New Zealand’s All Blacks beat the Springbok in a Tri-Nations match at the gigantic stadium.
We’ve followed every World Cup match live here and it’s now time for the final — the Netherlands v Spain. Join us here for commentary, discussion of the game and the best photos in the world.
The Luis Suarez handball incident — the Uruguay striker stopped a goal-bound shot on the line in the last minute of extra-time in their quarter-final against Ghana who missed the resulting penalty — which helped them into the last four led to suggestions that they should feel embarrassed or ashamed to be there.
Two national market indexes that may not shine on Monday are those of Spain and the Netherlands, whose soccer teams are scheduled to meet in the World Cup’s championship game on Sunday.
Whichever country’s team loses can expect a drag on its market index of 49 basis points, said Wharton business school professor Alex Edmans. That is the amount that national stock indexes tend to be held back on average on the day after their country is eliminated from the World Cup, according to a paper he published in 2007 with two co-authors, Diego Garcia of the University of North Carolina and Oyvind Norli of the Norwegian School of Management.
A glance at the stats shows Miroslav Klose has one more chance to equal or better the all-time record for World Cup goals when Germany play the third-place game against Uruguay but the truth is he has a strong claim to be joint top-scorer already.
According to FIFA, the record holder, out on his own, is the Brazilian striker Ronaldo, with 15 goals.
2010 is almost over – the 2010 Soccer World Cup, that is. In South Africa, we simply referred to the greatest sporting event to hit our shores as 2010. For years since it was first announced that South Africa would organise the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the country has been collectively, and sometimes not, looking forward to the day when the world would see what the rainbow nation is about.
The task ahead was difficult because South Africa had to build from scratch and also improve existing structures. The threat of the “Plan B” was often bandied about at will when it seemed as though we were not living up to our promises.
That being the case, there’s hardly any point in playing Wednesday’s semi-final between Germany and Spain — the Spanish have got it won.
Uruguay’s run to the last four of the World Cup is something of a fairytale, despite the Luis Suarez handball incident – the tiny nation with a glorious soccer history, their squad led by a scholarly coach and a dashing striker, battling on to write a new chapter as its bigger, more illustrious neighbours fall by the wayside.
I followed Uruguay for a while in this World Cup campaign but my link with them goes back a few years. I thought it worth sharing because if soccer is a sport that unites the world, the Uruguayans have played their part beyond the spotlight.
No other sporting event has the same impact as the World Cup. Entire countries grind to a halt to watch games, no more so than Brazil where shopping and banking hours are completely altered throughout the tournament month and many just take an official month-long holiday. Politicians jump on the bandwagon, making a big thing of how much they are supporting the team, and launch government inquiries when their teams fail.
Entire reputations can be shattered as Juan Sebastian Veron discovered in 2002, when he was vilified for Argentina’s first-round exit, and Ronaldo experienced four years later when some saw as excess kilos around his waist became an affair of state and were blamed for Brazil’s quarter-final elimination.
It is 20 years since their last semi-final, 24 since their second and last title and three successive World Cups in which Argentina have been hailed as playing the best football with some of the planet’s most talented players yet fallen short.
Post-mortems abound in the Argentine media and in coffee bar discussions throughout Buenos Aires about the reasons for continued failure.