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World Soccer views and news

Clinton gets serious about soccer

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SOCCER-WORLD/By Jon Herskovitz

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is serious about his soccer. He is a cheerleader for the US bid to host the World Cup; proud of the prowess on the pitch in South Africa for the red, white and blue; a fan of the noisemaking vuvuzela and a thinker who sees the beautiful game as a way to gain insight on disputes between ethnic groups and nations.

Clinton, still jubilant after attending a dramatic U.S. victory in stoppage time over Algeria a night ago, spoke to a roundtable of reporters for about an hour on Thursday. For him, the game is an intellectual pursuit and a passion. One book he cited was How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory on Globalization, by Franklin Foer. Foer offered some insight on his theories in an interview a few years ago with Mother Jones magazine.

The game has also served a window to the world outside the United States for Clinton who was introduced to the sport and the passion of soccer when he was a Rhodes Scholar in England in the late 1960s.

After the U.S. match against Algeria, Clinton shot the breeze in the locker room with the American players and offered a few words of wisdom that were perhaps more philosophical than any pep speech they have heard from a coach.

from Africa News blog:

Searching for it — not quite feeling it — in Polokwane

Searching for it -- not quite feeling it -- in Polokwane The fan fest sounded like a wild party with the vuvuzela horns booming through the empty streets of Polokwane town, one of the smallest of 10 venues for the first World Cup on African soil. Everyone must be there, we thought as there was little going on for a Saturday night in the northern South African town. Even the local Nandos restaurant on the main street shut by 8 p.m. But on closer inspection the soccer fan fest -- loud as it was -- was also pretty deserted. Soccer fever has yet to reach Polokwane. A sleepy town of just 500,000 people, it was hard to imagine Polokwane, which means place of safety, would host its first World Cup soccer match in less than 24 hours. In Johannesburg or Cape Town you could definitely "feel it". Here we weren't so sure. Driving through the town's eerily deserted streets searching for a restaurant where we could eat and watch the soccer, we discovered that was not an easy find. It was also hard to imagine what long-term benefit the town would see from being a host city. While for the four matches to be played in Polokwane the few hotels on offer for tourists were full, in between there were plenty of rooms at the inn. No team was staying nearby which would bring with it the paraphenalia of adoring fans or news-hungry media and the associated business. Those playing were flown in for pre-match training, again the day of the match and ferried back straight after. Police closed down the roads near the stadium on the edge of town the night before. But those fearing traffic similar to the four-hour long queues witnessed in Johannesburg trying to get to Soocer City need not have bothered. The streets were empty, the car parks empty and -- just 30 minutes before kick-off -- the stadium was half empty. By the second half, the stands were just about three-quarters full, though the blasts of the vuvuzelas compensated for the missing supporters. The Peter Mokaba stadium almost looked like they hadn't had time to finish painting it, with the stark grey concrete of the outer wall in direct contrast with Soccer City in Johannesburg's brightly coloured exterior. The inside was still coated in construction dust and most of the refreshment stands remained shuttered and closed during the match. Just two hours after the players left we found ourselves the lone figures in a dark stadium struggling to see the keyboard as we tapped out the finishing touches to our stories. Even the name of the stadium was controversial. Mokaba was the African National Congress (ANC)'s youth league leader who, like his current counterpart Julius Malema, was fond of the phrase "Kill The Boer," which upset many Afrikaners. Ironically there's not even a local soccer team to make use of the sparkling pitch. Residents said the Rai Stars disbanded long ago and the nearby promising Black Leopards team are based more than 150 kilometres away in a less than World Cup standard stadium. <http://www.blackleopardsfc.com/10_stadium_info.htm> The Dynamos train 100 kilometres away. Neither team play in the country's top league. "You can't help thinking this huge stadium will just be derelict and empty in a few years time," said one hotel worker.

Polokwane StadiumThe soccer fan fest sounded like a wild party with the vuvuzela horns booming through the empty streets of Polokwane town, one of the smallest of 10 venues for the first World Cup on African soil.

Everyone must be there, we thought as there was little happening on a Saturday night in the northern South African town centre.

Community Blog: Shay’ ivuvuzela, or not

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SOCCER-WORLD/Love it or hate it, the vuvuzela has brought a buzz to the 2010 Word Cup.  Some fans from around the world have embraced this trumpet and are all merrily blowing away at the stadiums.  Some cannot stand it and have asked Fifa to put a stop to the trumpet.

We took a stroll in one of the malls in Johannesburg and did a little survey on what people think about vuvuzelas.

Community Blog: Fan parks not for the fainthearted

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SOCCER-WORLD/I have decided that the World Cup fan parks are not my cup of tea. I am a bit of a football snob who prefers to either watch the game at the stadium or in front of the telly where I can follow the proceedings closely.

So, after much hustling and trying to purchase a ticket to the opening match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, I ended up at the Sandton Fan Park at Innisfree Park.

‘You call this noise? What is a million vuvuzelas?’

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SOCCER-WORLD/By Ruona Agbroko

If it hadn’t been for Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the 1-0 defeat to Argentina could have been much worse for the African side. That is one reason why the Nigerian supporter contingent, even if outnumbered by the Argentinian fans, remained upbeat throught the match.

The green-white-green stripes of the Nigerian flag were seen on toddlers, their parents and even foreigners at Ellis Park Stadium in central Johannesburg.

A South Africa rugby match is a whole other world

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The contrast between the highly-controlled environs of the soccer World Cup venues and the likes of Cape Town’s Newlands stadium, home to a South Africa v France rugby test on Saturday, was marked.

At Newlands, the supporter is king. For decades fans have turned up early with their own food and lit hundreds of barbeques, or brais as they are known in South Africa.

World Cup 2010 podcast – day 1

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Join us for our podcast on day one of the first African World Cup, as hosts South Africa prepare to test their growing confidence against unpredictable Mexico in front of 90,000 vuvuzela-blaring fans in Soccer City.

Click the audio box above to hear the thoughts of African football expert Mark Gleeson (@markgleesonfoot), sports editor Paul Radford, soccer editor Mike Collett (@mcfootball), the suave and sophisticated Helen Popper and Ossian Shine (@ossianshine) and your host, Kevin Fylan (@kevinfreuters).

I’m not one to blow my own trumpet…

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My vuvuzela is a glorious item – 70 cm of shiny plastic in the colours of the South African flag with the potential to deafen anyone nearby with the “sound of a herd of elephants”.

The minute I handed over my cash to the roadside hawker I was itching to try out my new toy – I hung it round my neck, took a deep breath, drew the trumpet to my lips and prepared to make an almighty racket.

Joburg goes crazy for Bafana Bafana

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SOCCER-WORLD/What started as a hunt for Mexican fans became a front row seat to one of the greatest street parties ever seen in South Africa as World Cup fever cranked up several notches on a sun-kissed afternoon in Johannesburg yesterday.

As I strolled the street looking for sombreros all I could find was a sea of green and gold as tens of thousands proud South Africans roared on their team, passing by in an open top bus.

Are Italy the least fancied world champions ever?

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World champions Italy arrived in South Africa on Wednesday but there wasn’t much of a fanfare.

Around twenty fans turned up to greet them at Johannesburg airport, nothing in comparison with the vast numbers of South Africans dancing beneath my window in Pretoria right now. They are blowing their vuvuzelas wildly for no apparent reason, they are just so excited the World Cup kicks off in two days.

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