Outside the Boks: Johnston makes snap decision to be full-time photographer

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The Independent Football

Now who's that vaguely familiar face among the press photographers, taking pictures of the German team training in Pretoria? Turns out to be none other than Craig Johnston, once a long-haired winger from Liverpool and now a pony-tailed snapper working at the World Cup.

Ever the maverick, his previous claim to fame was designing the Predator boot, with funny bits on it to make the ball swerve (which these days it does on its own). He told ESPN Soccernet: "I've stopped everything I do, including coaching kids and developing shoes, and I'm exclusively a photographer. I've walked away from football and coaching. I had a photography exhibition in Orlando that was well-received by the art crowd. I do a lot of photography for Sotheby's. I specialise in sculpture and still life. And I recently photographed Tiger Woods for Tag Heuer. That was my first real paying job as a photographer. I've been doing it for years for free. I'm hooked on it now as a career."

Carat and stick

Amid all this talk of public sector cuts in so many countries, what is the cost of staging a World Cup? South Africa has spent £3.5 billion, with stadium costs of £1.65bn almost double the 2006 estimates. The South African Revenue Service has apparently been forced to agree to exempt Fifa from normal VAT and customs duties, losing what critics claim will be "hundreds of millions of rand" (there are roughly 10 rand to the pound). The government has accepted there will be only a minimal increase in gross domestic product. There will be plenty of financial winners, however, including those offering accommodation at fancy prices, the airlines whose only worry is running out of planes, and retailers large and small. Upmarket jewellers already seem to be doing well, with one English fan in Durban reported to have bought a £30,000 ring with moving diamonds. Also on sale: a £2m football encrusted with diamonds, all set in 18 carat white gold. Two European clubs are said to be interested; surely one for the Manchester City museum?



Bonuses for Spain to reign

As Spain is suffering as much financial pain as Britain, it was not the best time for the nation to be told their football team, World Cup favourites or not, would be paid more than any other side for winning the tournament. The more socially conscious political parties are up in arms. Bonuses are said to be £500,000 each, which puts them ahead of Argentina and England. Our men are said to be looking at £450,000 each for emulating the Boys of '66 (who got £1,000, taxable).



This Blonde is a bit fizzy

Visitors here asked if they fancy a Zulu Blonde could easily get the wrong impression. What they are being offered is a glass of light beer produced by 62-year-old Graham Chennels in a home brewery at the family hotel in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal. England fans can be assured of its quality: it won top prize at the Wetherspoons international beer festival in London.



World Cup poser

The answer to last week's trivia question about which team lost World Cup qualifying games 19-0 and 16-0 in the space of three days: Guam against Iran on 24 November 2000 and Tajikistan two days later. This week's teaser: which country had to withdraw from a World Cup because it had been annexed by a grasping neighbour?



s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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