The Highlight Reel: Ill wind blows into Soweto

Soccer City, the showpiece stadium, the star of Soweto, the ingenious arena built to resemble an African cooking pot or
Kalabash, is beginning to acquire another very African characteristic. After two days of strong winds in Johannesburg the venue for today's opening match looks like a dustbowl. Like everything else in the windswept approach to Soweto township, it's been coated in a thick layer of red dust. An attribute that will be immediately recognisable to any fan tuning in from Somalia to Namibia.

Crime and punishment

As plenty of British reporters in South Africa can tell you, the British press is not too popular here. Fleet Street's alarming reports of violent crime and rampant robbery have left many people in the host nation feeling unfairly maligned. But don't you dare walk anywhere after dark. In the next breath a guesthouse owner who was berating the media then marched a reporter down to his basement to show him a bullet hole in the window to the garage. "This is South Africa," he said without an ounce of irony as he explained that five years ago he had shot at burglars trying to steal his car. He was told not to give up on the English papers – he should try the Sunday Telegraph.

Springboks stress superiority

Not content with an open-top bus tour in Jo'burg before a ball has been kicked, South Africa are planning to exact revenge on France before their World Cup match is even played. The Springboks – the nation's currently unstoppable rugby union team – are playing Les Bleus tomorrow. Expect the French line-up to be left in tatters as South Africa's other world champions make their point forcefully. Their footballing compatriots could struggle to match them though.

Fifa bigwigs master brief

To those of you who think that Fifa are a bunch of fat cats who know nothing about the game, you may have a point. At the Fifa Congress yesterday, held in Johannesburg's most luxurious facility, delegates were asked the question: "Did Italy win the last World Cup?" Hardly Mastermind. Officials were left in no doubt that the "no" button on the handsets works as six delegates pressed it. They were just testing that it worked Fifa minions hurried to reassure the journalists present. Of course they were.

Testing times for students

Got exams during the World Cup? Don't worry George Turnbull, of exams watchdog the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, is here to help. The exams "doctor" says: "The two don't mix really but football games could be part of (a) revision programme." The key is in managing revision timetables. "Ease in an extra half-hour of work a day at least, by getting up earlier or taking less time over lunch," he adds. He does admit that it may be necessary to record games to make this work but counsels against studying in the room next door to the television. "For those sitting examinations now, football is not the only game in town and certainly should not be the one you're concentrating on now," he added. Whatever, George...

Feeling the chill

For the first time in three decades many of the people watching the World Cup on television are going to be a lot warmer than those playing in it. Jo'burg temperatures will be bordering on freezing by half-time in today's opening match as the finals are played in the southern winter. Despite the winter denialism that exists in the commercial capital, where heating is seen as a sign of weakness, night-time temperatures plummet by up to 16 degrees from the lunchtime peak. So Nelson Mandela, about to turn 92, is unlikely to hang around for the final whistle but the fractionally younger and less popular Robert Mugabe, 86, will be there until the bitter end.

Vuvuzelas out in force

Nevermind the Mexican wave, feel the force of the vuvuzela nation. An anxious host nation desperate to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first host team to flunk the group stages has been drumming up the support it hopes will lift their team. Tens of thousands of supporters turned out in Cape Town yesterday in the second day's worth of pre-emptive celebrations. Foreign supporters have been welcome to join in. But the welcome in South Africa only goes so far.

Instructions are being passed by SMS among Bafana Bafana fans going to the game – "no Mexican wave at the match" – this is serious after all.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen