World Cup Diary: Turn-on for the home supporters

LIKE the tournament itself, television coverage of the World Cup in the United States has improved day by day after an uncertain start. They seem even to be cottoning on to what all the fuss is about.

The sports channel ESPN, which is showing 41 of the 52 first- phase matches live - some of them, unfortunately, on their second station, which has limited access - began badly by failing to cover the opening ceremony. It then transmitted blandly, admittedly mirroring the match, the Germany v Bolivia encounter. Worse, it failed to provide adequate replays of incidents.

Gradually, and probably with the input of imported European directors, they have realised the importance of showing again close offside decisions, as well as close- ups of players and spectators to capture the atmosphere.

Commentary is well informed and shows good judgement, even if there are understandable Americanisms ('Donadoni is an offensive weapon,' mused one broadcaster). The expatriate Irishman Seamus Malin, for example, correctly identified Colombia's persistence with a middle route, rather than exploiting the wings, as one reason for their demise against the United States.

The hosts' win that day has fuelled interest to the point where ratings can be expected to go above the best so far of 5.5 million people who watched their first match against Switzerland.

On ESPN, Roger Twibell's South American-style howl of 'Gooooooooooooll' after the second against Colombia has endeared him to many of the good ol' boys. One American writer swears that the guys who sit in the booths by New York's bridges have caught the mood. 'Tooooooooooooll,' they demand.

THE Aston Villa manager, Ron Atkinson, was being accredited at the New York media centre for his work as an ITV contributor. 'Your tag is just being laminated,' explained the hostess. 'Crikey, what does that mean?' he asked. A journalist nearby explained, and bet him dollars 5 he couldn't get the word into his commentary of the Ireland v Italy match the next night. 'The new Irish shirts with their laminated badges look nice,' he duly reflected on air.

THE former French midfield genie and manager Michel Platini arrived in Washington last week and rang a World Cup office to request a car to RFK stadium. 'Why do we have to pick up some French woman?' wondered a driver.

'I'll pick her up,' volunteered a bright young Turk, Yavuz Baray. He knew what he was doing, however. 'I'm a player, a coach, a soccer junkie,' said Baray, who described his subsequent red-hot soccer chat with the Frenchman as one of the highlights of his life. Platini rewarded him with tickets for the Mexico-Norway match.

WHEN O J Simpson was cruising the Los Angeles freeways in his white Ford Bronco being pursued by police, all live on television, we were trying to think of a revered English footballing equivalent who might take off round the M25 in his Range Rover. It proved impossible. With all the motorway cones, he would never have got past Leatherhead.

MAJOR sporting events are always good opportunities for getting messages across. Surprisingly, the 'John 3:16' banners prevalent at Italia '90 have not been in evidence here, but we have had 'Save Bosnia'; 'Stop killing whales, Norway' (but for an H, that could have been directed at Romania) and 'Macedonia was, is and always will be a part of Greece.'

We await this week's matches. 'Sign a treaty with the North, Korea', 'Get your inflation under control, Brazil' or 'Underwear down in price at K-Mart, America,' perhaps?

THE ARSENAL manager, George Graham, was an interested spectator at the Germany v Spain match in Chicago last week, enjoying the match, he said, but finding his pleasure impaired by the constant passing sideways along his row of hot dogs and Coca-Cola. He would have liked them pushed forward sooner, apparently.

He revealed afterwards, incidentally, that back at Highbury the goalless Dane John Jensen has invested in a pair of the new Adidas Predator boots, receiving from team-mates a ribbing to match the design of the footwear. 'I think his shooting has got worse,' lamented Graham.

ARRANGEMENTS for interviewing players and managers after matches are haphazard, conducted in the bowels of stadiums, where journalists' experienced in dodging umbrellas at Wimbledon is good practice for evading Brazilian television crews.

Though more of an exclusion zone, these places are called mixed zones. For mixed grills, presumably.

IT IS one of football's little injustices that a brilliant shot, such as Marcelo Balboa's bicycle-kick for the United States against Colombia that went just wide, and one that hits the corner flag both count for the same: nought.

The national newspaper USA Today, whose coverage of the World Cup is excellent, has got around it by inventing a new scoring system. They took, for example, Argentina to beat Greece by one and a half goals and Bulgaria to beat Nigeria by a half.

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...


Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?