The football rolled across the departures hall with trolleys and passengers sent flying and a gaggle of players spinning and trying tricks.
This time it wasn't Brazil playing in a Nike commercial but a bit of genuine World Cup fever breaking out at Johannesburg's Oliver Tambo airport. South Korea supporters were giving Greece fans an impromptu game while a man with a giant vuvuzela, wearing a flag for a cape, noisily kept score. Finally, a match that Fifa wasn't making a profit out of.
Biden baits England
The US couldn't even get their own president's support and had to settle for vice president Joe Biden, who insisted Barack Obama was "angry" to be left behind to clean up the oil spill. The Irish-American was keen to burnish his own qualifications for understanding soccer. He warned Group C rivals not to discount the US before joking that "in the spirit of a genuine Irishman, we are going to beat England".
Fans unite in Blatter bashing
One of the undoubted highlights of Fifa's kick-off concert on Thursday night was seeing Sepp Blatter brave the usual booing to try to say a few words while flanked by South Africa's president Jacob Zuma. The Swiss, who refuses to declare how much he earns as the president of Fifa, had only been on the screen at one Jo'burg bar for a few seconds before a multinational collection of fans communicated their affection for him with a series of arm and hand gestures. As one patron was heard to remark, "love football – hate Fifa".
Aussies 'smash the lagers'
Australians have taken over Durban's Kingsmead stadium. The cricket ground has become a temporary home to 1,200 Aussie fans housed in rows of green tents with a vast beer tent ensuring a party atmosphere. Australia play their first game against Germany in Durban tomorrow and fans will be able to stroll from the downtown Kingsmead ground to the nearby Moses Mabhida stadium. The campers have paid anything up to the equivalent of £3,500 for their South African odyssey. The packages include match tickets, transport to games, a bed in three-man tents and full English breakfast – but not beer. "The bars are definitely getting a workout," said 24-year-old Luke Bartolo from Adelaide, sitting in his tent before heading to the beach for a swim. "We're drinking the local lagers, we're smashing them." Nothing like the stereotype then!
At least the Americans will have an excuse if things don’t go well for them today. The US’s training session yesterday was briefly delayed after an elephant placed its considerable bulk between the team bus and the training ground. Ateam spokesman said the squad had to twiddle their thumbs for five minutes while the elephant munched on a tree on the road leading from the team s hotel. It wasn’t a unique problem, either: it was the second time yesterday that the US team bus was blocked by an elephant on the road, the same spokesman said.
Travolta switches sides
Of all of the bizarre sights that turned up at Johannesburg's Lanseria airport – which is where the VIPs come to land their private jets – there was one clear winner: John Travolta. Poor man, he looked a bit lost as he appeared in Johannesburg dressed as an airline pilot, sporting an Australia scarf and claiming to be supporting the Socceroos. The Italian-American actor, who was accompanied by his pregnant wife Kelly Preston, did have the grace to admit that he did not know much about the game. As for his reasons for being an Australia fan at a tournament where the US are playing? Well, that had more to do with cash than sentiment as he is a paid ambassador for the Australian airline Qantas.Reuse content