Daniel Howden: The Highlight Reel

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The Independent Football

Greece, the worst side

Consolations were thin on the ground for Greece fans who travelled all the way from a financial crisis in Europe to South Africa only to find that their football was bankrupt as well. The blue-and-white army saw their team comprehensively beaten in the only match where they were expected to have a chance. But you come to the World Cup in search of superlatives and, in the Port Elizabeth Hellenic hall after the game, the Greek fans found they had one after all: Greece, the worst team in the tournament, everyone agreed. Don't be surprised if the marketing department at Fifa tries to trademark that superlative as well and find some way of charging for it.



Vuvuzelas a real headache

Vuvuzelas have become big business as well as a big noise. The plastic horns are inescapable and tens of thousands of them have been sold. And, in the true spirit of entrepreneurialism that flourishes in most places in Africa the solution to the noise pollution is now being sold alongside them by the same vendors. "Vuvu-plugs! Get your vuvu-plugs!" was the cry from the hawkers outside the stadiums. You can even buy the ear plugs in your own team colours. The biggest sellers, it turns out, are one green and one yellow plug together. Just in case you need to show your inner ear that you are a true Bafana Bafana supporter.



What will he invent next?

Alfred Baloyi, the makarapa man, who invented the colourful hard hats worn at South Africa football matches, has a new innovation that he's come up with for the opening round of games. The 53-year-old has never been a big fan of the blasting horns and wanted to find some way to turn down the volume a little. So he came up with a mini version of the vuvuzela which he's calling the "vutella".



Sweetheart deals abound

The host nation is as famous for its "tenderpreneurs" as its entrepreneurs. This is the name that's given to the nouveau riche elite who have learnt to use their political contacts to earn money from the state in sweetheart deals. Yesterday's papers uncovered the latest wheeze, which involves the ruling ANC making money out of a contract to provide luxury cruises to Robben Island for rich World Cup tourists who want to see Nelson Mandela's former prison. The company was proud to boast that "very high-profile people" would be travelling on its teak-decked cruiser off Cape Town, although it refused to reveal names. Mr Mandela, it turns out, was, in the 1990s, the chairman of the company that's running the venture and the firm continues to have strong links to the ruling party. How was Thebe Investments able to secure exclusive rights to dock at Robben Island – the only yacht company to be able to do so? It can't hurt to have the ANC as your majority shareholder.

Best seat in the house

South Korea v Greece was not really the hottest ticket at the World Cup this weekend but the opening match at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth was where the tournament's chief organiser Danny Jordaan had a small appointment with history. The VIP area at the converted rugby field was where a "whites only" sign hung during the apartheid era and Jordaan – who would have been categorised as coloured under the segregationist system – was determined to savour the first match at the new ground in a very different era. The man who went from being a "coloured footballer" in a sport considered second class to the white-dominated cricket and rugby, to the biggest VIP at a World Cup match could afford to sit in the exclusive enclosure with a smile on his face.

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