Daniel Howden: The highlight reel
Monday 21 June 2010
End of the party?
With South Africa facing a seemingly impossible route to the knockout stages there are mounting worries that millions of Bafana Bafana supporters will lose interest in the event if their team limps out tomorrow. The hosts are faced with setting the horrible precedent of being the first country to stage the finals and then go out in the group stages.
Organisers' desperation to rally the nation was clear from the number of public statements being churned out at the weekend. The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Madiba was "unwavering" in his support. President Jacob Zuma said the "unprecedented support" must continue. The tournament's chief organiser, Danny Jordaan, issued a statement saying he was "supremely confident South Africans would continue to support the World Cup until the end." Only Bafana Bafana midfielder Steven Pienaar, who is actually tasked with turning around the hosts' disappointing campaign, let the side down by admitting that he was feeling a bit tired.
Stop the music
The World Cup is already over for one of the country's leading musicians. South African music producer Lebo M has walked out on preparations for the closing ceremony after feuding and infighting that nearly ruined the World Cup opening jamboree.
The row apparently began over who would sing the tribute song to Nelson Mandela and then escalated as different parties squabbled over whose idea the bizarre giant dung beetle had been.
One of Bangladesh's top universities has closed following a row over how students would watch World Cup matches. Students have been asked to leave their dormitories after fights that followed one group's demand for an early summer vacation to allow them to see the games without having to suffer the stress of missing any classes.
The holiday protesters locked the university gates and called on others to boycott classes. This prompted violence with students who had work to do and wanted to get on with it.
At least five students were injured. It is not clear whether they'll be able to watch the action from hospital.
A global buzz
Get your ear plugs ready, the Vuvuzela is going global.
The Florida Marlins baseball team handed out free horns to the first 15,000 fans through the gate for their game with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
Not surprisingly, as anyone who has watched a World Cup match would know, the result was a night of constant, vibrating noise. While the young fans brandishing the mini-version of the South African plastic horn enjoyed the fun, the players were not amused.
"This isn't soccer," Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who wore earplugs, told MLB.com. "I know the World Cup is going on, but this is baseball. We don't want to hear horns or anything like that. We want to hear the crowd cheering. We want to hear the crowd getting behind us, not horns," he said.
The Marlins, who often struggle to draw good crowds, frequently put on bands and other attractions on Saturdays.
"We try to create either a sound or visual giveaway," said Marlins' vice president of marketing Sean Flynn. "This is probably the loudest item we've had."
United by the beautiful game
North Korea is a nation apart in any number of ways, as demonstrated by the 31 "beauty queens" who attended last night's match between Brazil and Ivory Coast. The country not represented was, of course, North Korea – but fans of the secretive state's brave boys need not fear. Miss South Korea Yun Seo-choi, said she was also behind the North Koreans. "They were really fighting hard [against Brazil], I support them as well," she said. "One day I hope that we can play together [as one team] but now I am proud of them." Who says football doesn't bring nations together?
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