Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh No! 2010 World Cup Final Sold Out!


Looks like I'll be using scalpers to get into the 2010 World Cup final.

According to FIFA, the second phase of ticket sales for the opening match, semi-finals and the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup are sold out.

Gone. Goodbye.

The second phase had seen 105,322 tickets confirmed and approved so far.

"Due to a high demand for certain team specific ticket series, these tickets are no longer available for the following countries: England, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Ireland and Netherlands," the world football body said in a statement.

"It is no longer possible within the current sales phase to purchase match tickets for games taking place in Cape Town, Nelspruit and Pretoria."

Individual match tickets for the opening match, the two semi-finals, and the final were also unavailable in this phase.

However, team specific ticket series tickets, which allow supporters to follow the team of their choice, were available for the opening match, semi-final and the final.

If their team is eliminated, the team specific ticket allows the buyer to follow the team that progresses into the next round of the competition.

MY POV: So should I follow the USA? Spain? Help me here!

ESPN's Champions League Ratings Are Great!


We all know football can succeed in the United States. Here's further proof.

Wednesday's airing of FC Barcelona’s 2-0 win over defending champion Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final averaged 1.43 million viewers (and a 1.1 rating/1.07 million homes) for ESPN, making it the most-watched UEFA soccer game in the history of U.S. Cable.

The previous record was the 2008 final on ESPN2 that averaged 1.09 million viewers.

The final was also ESPN Deportes’ second most-watched telecast ever, drawing a 9.9 Hispanic coverage ratings and 474,000 Hispanic homes. The most-watched ESPN Deportes telecast was the Euro 2008 Final where Spain beat Germany that drew a 10.1 Hispanic coverage rating.

This match marks the end of a 15-year run on ESPN networks. Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports USA outbid the Disney-owned sports network for the rights to the prestigious club tournament for the next three seasons.

MY POV: It just goes to show that soccer can make a foothold in the USA. There are just two problems.

1 - People flock to the big names. Barcelona. Manchester United. The appetite is there for big-name soccer. But what about the domestic product, the MLS? The hunger and passion isn't there for this product just yet. It's huge in places like Seattle and Toronto. But MLS still needs to catch fire in other target cities, like Chicago and New York.

2 - Now that the Champions League is moving to the Fox Soccer Channel, which isn't distributed in as many homes as ESPN, will the under exposure hurt the game?

I'm sure Fox and their vast network of resources will work hard to further their resources. Still, it's not in place like ESPN's is. This is a total 'wait and see.'

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Most Horrific Leg Break EVER

This is not for the squeamish ...

It happened in the South African football league.

Oupa Ngulube had his leg broken by Felix Muamba-Musasa during a South African league match between Mpumalanga Black Aces FC and the Carara Kicks.

The two players were going for a ball along the sideline, but Muamba went in high, stomping on Ngulube’s leg as he slid in. Play immediately stopped as stunned onlookers turned away from the sight of Ngulube’s suddenly jello-like leg.


Felix Muamba-Musasa received a quick red card for his tackle, which he didn’t protest at all. After the match, he issued an apology for the incident, saying:

“Firstly, let me pass my unreserved apologies to the management of Carara Kicks as well as the family and friends of Oupa. As a sportsman, I have never broken or intended to harm my fellow colleagues in any way in my life. It was never my intention to go out and break his leg – it all happened when we both were going on a 50-50 challenge. People should understand that soccer is a contact sport. At the end of the day such accidents happen in the field of play.”

“I did not have a peaceful Sunday night after that incident. My prayers are with the player to recover well and play soccer again. I was devastated immediately when I saw the player still lying down in pain. I am hard at prayer trying to come to terms with that incident.

“I haven’t spoken to any Carara official but it is still my aim to personally speak to Oupa and give him courage. I plead with people not judge me by my tough approach in the field of play – I play with passion and I subscribe to fair play.”

“Oupa, keep well, be strong and God Bless you my brother. I am still trying to come to terms with the incident and I will personally call you.”

Wow ... horrific ...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Almost 400,000 Confed. Cup Tickets Sold


Tickets are selling fast for the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, which hits us square between the eyes in mere weeks - 25 days to be exact!

“With just 25 days to the kick-off of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, a total of 383,506 tickets have now been sold,” the world soccer body FIFA said in a statement.

This was 63 percent of the total number of tickets available.

The majority of tickets were sold in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Some matches, including the opening match between South Africa and Iraq, the semi-final and the final were already sold out.

MY POV: Get your tickets now!!! And get me one while you're at it ...

ESPN Plans Huge 2010 World Cup Media Blitz

Remember ESPN's ‘One Game Changes Everything’ ad campaign for the 2006 World Cup in Germany?



Simple. Poignant. Brilliant.

On Tuesday, ESPN
executive vice president of content John Skipper said the network plans its "biggest marketing campaign ever" for the 2010 World Cup.

All 64 games will be shown on ESPN, America's biggest sports network. Skipper said the "One Game Changes Everything" byline may return next year.

Word of ESPN's emphasis on the World Cup comes after it suffered a setback with soccer programming last month, losing North American rights to the UEFA Champions League to the Fox Soccer Channel, a channel not as widely distributed in the States.

ESPN owns the rights to the World Cup through 2014 -- games are carried on Internet hub ESPN360.com and mobile platforms, as well as ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. No ads run during the game action, but sponsors receive on-air mention, as well as an opportunity to place a logo on-screen next to the score line.

MY POV: Soccer isn't a popular sport in America. But big tournaments like Euro 2008 and the World Cup generate significant ad revenue for the networks. It's surprising that Americans shun the domestic league (MLS), yet can't get enough once the big tournaments appear.

Just goes to show the American public will pay for quality football, much like the rest of the world.

Glad to see ESPN's continued commitment to the game, in lieu of losing the Champions League to Fox Soccer earlier this year.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How Important is the Confederations Cup?


386 days until the start of the 2010 World Cup ...

More importantly, 25 days until South Africa's dry run - the 2009 Confederations Cup.

So how important is the Confederations Cup?
Is it just a dry run for the host country?

Or is it a prestigious football championship, to be fought over like a continental title?

Dr. Nikolaus Eberl of Bizcommunity.com, 'the B2B site of choice in South Africa,' thinks the Cup is mostly about impressions.

At a recent media briefing in Johannesburg, FIFA TV director Niclas Ericson said a lot hinged on the success of the Confederations Cup and how well South Africa does in this tournament. "The impression about SA that visitors will make after the conclusion of the Confederations Cup will be the one that will stay with the international community until the world cup next year.

"We expect that there will be a few problems here and there and we welcome criticism from visitors. That is what the tournament is for and hopefully all those mistakes are rectified ahead of the world cup. But there is only room for small mistakes and not big ones," explained Ericson.
Eberl tries to tie this win with the last incantation of the Confederations Cup, Germany's 2005 dry run of the successful 2006 tournament.

What were the pluses and minuses of that tournament?

On the plus side, the tournament was a ticketing success, with 92% of the tickets sold.
The quality of the football was good and host country Germany did well, finishing in 3rd place.

The minuses?
  • During the final, which saw Brazil pitted against Argentina, the roof of the Frankfurt stadium was leaking, which caused huge embarrassment, as rain showers were gushing down and the corner section of the pitch was hit badly.

  • Security breaches caused German LOC boss Franz Beckenbauer sleepless nights, as more than once so-called ‘runners' jumped the fences and sprinted towards their heroes, in particular Ronaldinho and German goalie Jens Lehman, leaving many observers to wonder whether the German police was up to the task of guaranteeing player safety.

  • Ambush branding was a hot topic during the 2005 Confed Cup, when a German automobile service supplier, TüV Süd, launched a branded zeppelin that circled the Nuremberg stadium repeatedly, causing major embarrassment for the organizers.
At the end of the 2005 tournament, the media's verdict was: “Participants and fans alike ended up unanimous on one thing. The FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005 left them wanting more - more football and more thrills."

Can the 2009 incantation do the same? We'll find out, starting in 25 days ...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 Confederations Cup FAQ


26 Days to Go: 2009 Confederations Cup FAQ

We're 26 days from the start of FIFA's 2010 World Cup dry run in South Africa, the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Like many of you, I have no idea what the Confederations Cup is.

Let's spend the next 26 days previewing the Cup, answering questions and becoming Confederations Cup experts!

First, we'll answer the pressing question of the day: What is the Confederations Cup?
Then we'll preview the teams, the groups, the stadiums and follow the action until a champion is crowned June 28th!

Let's get to it!

The easiest way of starting this is by answering the most important questions.
I'll use a simple Q and A format for this first post.

Q: So, what's the Confederations Cup?

A: The FIFA Confederations Cup is a national team football tournament, held every four years by FIFA. It is contested by the winners of each of the six FIFA confederation championships (Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Oceania) plus the previous World Cup winner and the host country, bringing the total to eight.

According to the South African Times, 'The eight team championship is now regarded as second only in prestige to the World Cup finals and is hosted 12 months before the World Cup finals in order for Fifa and the Local Organising Committee to test the readiness of their stadiums and infrastructures ahead of the world showpiece. Most coaches and countries regard the 2009 Confederations Cup as a dress rehearsal for the 2010 showpiece.'

Q: When is the Cup?

A: It starts in 26 days, June 14th. It lasts until June 28th. Two weeks.

Q: Who is in the Cup?

A: The eight teams this year are ...

  1. South Africa - Host nation
  2. Italy - 2006 World Cup champions
  3. USA - North American champions
  4. Brazil - South American champions
  5. Iraq - Asian champions
  6. Egypt - African champions
  7. Spain - European champions
  8. New Zealand - Oceania champions

Q: Where will the matches be held?

A:
Four cities will host matches.

  1. Johannesburg (Coca Cola Park)
  2. Pretoria (Loftus Versfeld Stadium)
  3. Bloemfontein (Free State Stadium)
  4. Rustenburg (Royal Bafokeng Stadium)

Q: What are the matches, group stages, etc.?

A:
The eight teams are divided into two groups, A and B. A random draw was held and teams from the same confederation were not drawn into the same group
Here's how it breaks down ...



Group A
South Africa
Iraq
New Zealand
Spain

Group B
USA
Italy
Brazil
Egypt

The most anticipated first round matchup takes place on June 21st when Brazil takes on defending world champions Italy.

Brazil are defending Confederations Cup champions. The 5-time world champions beat Argentina in the final in Germany in 2005.

Q: What's the schedule?

A:
Please click here for a match schedule.

Q: Where's the final held?

A:
The top two teams in each group advance to the knock out stages.
Group winners will face the other group's runner-up in the semifinals.
The final will be held June 28th in Johannesburg's Coca Cola Park.

Q: Any history?

A: I've no clue. But how about we scour the 'net for some answers?

According to Wikipedia, the tournament has its origins in the King Fahd Cup, held in Saudi Arabia in 1992 and 1995 and contested by the Saudi Arabian national side and a few continental champions.

FIFA took over the running of the competition in 1997, renaming it the FIFA Confederations Cup and staging the tournament every two years up until 2005.

In 2005, FIFA decided to hold the tournament every four years - one year before the World Cup, in the World Cup host country - making it more or less an official dress rehearsal for the World Cup.

Previous Confederations Cup tournaments:

  • 1997: Saudi Arabia (winner Brazil)
  • 1999: Mexico (winner Mexico)
  • 2001: South Korea/Japan (winner France)
  • 2003: France (winner France)
  • 2005: Germany (winner Brazil)

Monday, May 18, 2009

See Ya Amr Zaki!


Amr Zaki's stint at English side Wigan looks to be over.

Wigan manager Steve Bruce has confirmed he will not be signing the Egyptian striker on a permanent basis.

Zaki joined Wigan in July 2008 on a year-long loan deal from home-country club Zamalek and was an instant hit, with eight goals in his first 10 games.

But the goals dried up. Zaki's been hit by injuries and the 26-year-old angered Bruce after returning late from international duty on four separate occasions.

"We will not be taking the option to sign him when his loan ends,"Bruce said.

Zaki missed Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Stoke City because of a knee problem and he will not be fit for the final game of the season at home to Portsmouth.

He has not scored from open play since mid-October and his last goal came on December 28. Zaki has been affected by injuries but the deterioration of his relationship with Bruce has cost him a permanent deal.

In early April he was fined for the fourth successive time after returning late from international duty, leading to Bruce saying Zaki was "the most unprofessional (player) I have worked with."

Zaki has played only three times since then and a knee injury sustained at West Brom on May 9th means he's almost certainly played his last game for Wigan.

Bruce also felt the player, who scored twice in a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool in October, allowed his head to be turned by links to Real Madrid, Chelsea and Liverpool after making an early impact on the Premier League.

"The writing has been on the wall for a while now but it's a shame, it really is," he added.

"There was no doubt Zaki had the world at his feet last October when he scored those two goals against Liverpool at Anfield. He had a wonderful chance over here but he was badly advised I think, he listened to the wrong people.

"If he had listened to the people he should have done - his adviser is a decent fellow - he would have been okay. It's a shame it's worked out this way, he set us on fire with those goals earlier in the season. But Zaki hasn't scored from open play since Liverpool. We've missed him in that respect but there you go."

Bruce also has other major decisions to make as Zaki's compatriot and fellow striker Mido is coming to the end of his loan spell from Middlesbrough.

MY POV: Looks like Zaki let the accolades get to his head. His form dipped after the Liverpool match. Do you think a big club like Madrid would fancy his services after his precipitous drop? Might mean Zaki makes his way back to Egypt. Too bad.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

2010 World Cup Tidbits


If you haven't checked out the wonderful Project 2010 information/news site from South Africa, what are you waiting for?

The site's chock full of information regarding South Africa and the upcoming 2010 World Cup. Make sure to stop by and then come back here for more juicy info ...

Here, some interesting tidbits pulled from the site.

- On Monday, a group of journalists will kick off an ambitious program in Senegal aimed at providing mid-career training to more than 300 reporters and photographers across Africa ahead of next year’s World Cup. MY POV: Can I please join? Please?

The programme is part of FIFA’s ’Win in Africa with Africa’ development program, launched after South Africa was selected to host the 2010 World Cup. The courses will be run by the AFP Foundation and co-financed by the EU. This week’s courses will be held at the Diambars Institute near the coastal resort of Saly, about 70 kilometers south-west of Dakar. Facilities have been made available thanks to the generosity of the Senegalese FA, one of eight national associations in Africa which have agreed to support the program.

- Hotel operaters hoping to inflate accommodation prices during the 2010 World Cup and who refuse to sign up with Match Hospitality, FIFA's official accommodation service provider, are doing themselves a disfavor, tourism authorities have warned.

The Argus quotes Michael Tatalias, chairperson of the Southern African Tourism Service Association, as saying that a number of hotel owners are holding back so that they could inflate their prices to rip off tourists. He said Match needs more than 65,000 rooms.

MY POV: Be careful where you get your rooms! Don't spend too much!

- South Africa has received a thumbs-up from Dutch soccer legend Frank Rijkaard as it prepares to host the World Cup.

Speaking to the Sowetan, Rijkaard, who coached FC Barcelona, said the country will host a roaring 2010 World Cup.

’From what I have seen in South Africa there is no shadow of doubt in my mind that your country will host a memorable World Cup next year,’ he said. ’South Africa and Africa as a whole will never be the same after you have hosted the tournament of this magnitude. There is already an air of anticipation for 2010 among a horde of South Africans that I have met since my arrival here on Sunday. It shows that people are ready for the spectacle. It is a good attitude.’

MY POV: Ahh, I so need to get out there already! Working on it, my dear readers!

- Gauteng (a province of South Africa) premier Nomvula Mokonyane has become the latest high-profile politician to call for the decriminalization of prostitution.

The Times reports that Mokonyane said that she, as an ANC member and Gauteng premier, would keep an ’open mind’ about recognizing the ’oldest profession’.

’Worldwide you will find it. What is important is the management, even their protection,’ she said. She said that the government should not wait until 2010 and the World Cup in South Africa because there were ’pressing issues’ that faced prostitutes now.

MY POV: I'm steering clear of commenting on this one!

Make sure to check out Project 2010 for more interesting 2010 news!

Brazilian Ronaldo Wants to Say Bye at 2010 World Cup


Ronaldo, the prolific big boned striker and all-time leading World Cup goal scorer thinks the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is the perfect venue for his retirement.

The current Corinthians striker, who led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, said "A chance to play in the World Cup would prolong my professional career. It would be great to be able to close my career during the Cup, but I don't want to put any pressure on anyone to make any decisions."

The athlete admitted that he is not fully ready to play for the Brazilian national soccer team quite yet. He acknowledges that he still has some weight to shed and quickness to gain.

Still, Ronaldo's been on fire for his current club team. In his 14 games with Corinthians, Ronaldo has scored 10 goals and has helped his team to win the Sao Paulo state championship.

Corinthians now have their eyes on the Brazilian Cup. They travel to play Fluminense in the return leg of the quarterfinals on May 17.

MY POV: I'd love nothing more than to see the greatest striker of my generation make his farewell at the 2010 World Cup in Africa.

But do you really think Brazil coach Dunga will feel the same way and pick him for the squad? Herein lies the conundrum ...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Steven Cohen and the Hillsborough Tragedy


While I was away, a friend told me about this story concerning football 'shock jock' Steven Cohen and his foolish comments regarding the Hillsborough tragedy.

I'm not a Liverpool fan. But I can certainly sympathize with their anger regarding his comments.

So what happened? Here's a detailed account of the story by the Los Angeles Daily News.

On April 15, 1989, 96 Liverpool fans died when one end of Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, became overcrowded at the start of an FA Cup semifinal game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

A crush ensued as too many people were allowed to enter two sections of the stadium, and victims were pushed up against perimeter fencing that kept them from jumping to safety on the field.

An official inquiry was conducted in England and produced the Taylor Report, which blamed poor policing for the tragedy and recommended the removal of standing-only areas and perimeter fencing.

On the 20th anniversary of the event a few weeks ago, Cohen, host on the World Soccer Daily show on Sirius Satellite Radio said Liverpool's fans should "share responsibility" in the blame.

"When people go to games without tickets and liquored up and 96 tragically die, at some point the fans have to share responsibility. You can't just blame the police," Cohen said.

"I'm not saying they went with evil in their hearts to do it. Liverpool brought the same number of fans as the year before (to Hillsborough) even though they were at the smaller end of the stadium this time.

"I have expressed an opinion that there was a shared responsibility."

As the story details:

Unfortunately for Cohen, an American-based soccer Web site picked up the story and said he "solely" blamed Liverpool's fans for the tragedy. Since then, he's received hundreds of death threats, threats to kidnap his fiancee's children and threats to burn down his house.

"It's spread like a virus," he said.

Cohen estimates more than 3,500 e-mails were sent to his show regarding the controversy.

"I've seen the Taliban less defensive," Cohen said. "If this was being done in Afghanistan or Pakistan, we'd call these people terrorists. A lot of them are little cowards hiding behind their computers.

"(But) I feel my life and my livelihood is at stake."

Some e-mails compare Cohen's comments to blaming the victims in the World Trade Center for Sept. 11.

"You almost wonder what they are protesting so much?" Cohen said. "Why do they care so much about what some nebbish in California in a soccer wasteland thinks? This is terror tactics from one club's fans that are hypersensitive."


A boycott organized by Liverpool supporter clubs in the USA is doing some damage.

FourFourTwo, a respected soccer magazine based in England, pulled its advertising, along with Fado, a chain of 14 Irish pubs in the United States.

Liverpool fans want an apology. I can't blame them.

Cohen (pictured,above) is a known instigator. He comes across as combative on his radio show and is known for trying to stir the pot and cause controversy. He may have gone too far this time.

Here's the official statement from the Liverpool FC New York Supporter's Club:

On the 15th of April 1989, 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough due to police incompetence and inaction. It has been criminally negligent homicide. To this day, not a single person has been held responsible for this atrocity.

The death of these 96 fellow supporters is as much part of the DNA of Liverpool Football Club as any one of the 18 League Championships or 5 European Cups. These 96 were our fellow fans. Over the years, the fight for justice for the 96 has been constantly waged without much success. Over the years also, some in the media have found reason to lie about what really happened, despite the publication of the official report, The Taylor Report. The S*n newspaper in particular comes to mind.

Unfortunately there are also those in the USA who are looking to further themselves and their careers on the back of the deaths of our fellow fans. Your fellow fans.

Steve Cohen, who appears on Fox Football Phone In and on World Soccer Daily on Sirius, is attempting to make a name for himself slandering all Liverpool fans and the 96 in particular. Some years ago he made baseless claims and retracted them after protests. His apologies were all qualified. This time out he was at it again, claiming that Liverpool fans killed their own by turning up ticketless, a lie refuted by The Taylor Report. In follow up complaints, Cohen responded by linking Hillsborough with Heysel, with murdering Liverpool fans as the common theme. As Liverpool fans we cannot allow this atrocity to stand.

If Steve Cohen wants to smear all of us Liverpool fans with these lies, then let us exact a price on him. We want him gone off the air. Gone from Fox, gone from Sirius, gone from the airwaves. The LFCNY and all the North American Supporters' Branches recommend that you email Steve Cohen's advertisers, letting them know that you will not be using any of their services as long as they financially support this person. Below are a list of those advertisers.

And if you think that campaigns like this never accomplish much, we already have had success with the magazine 442 and the sportswear company 365-inc. agreeing already, before any campaign has really begun, to pull their advertising for this odious person. We want to be seen as responsive, so we also encourage everyone to email 442 and 365-inc. to thank them for supporting this campaign.

Email to sponsors of Steve Cohen:

To whom it may concern,

You advertise on either or both of Steve Cohen's shows on Fox and Sirius. Steve Cohen has, and not for the first time, told lies about the deaths the 96 fans at Hillsborough, claiming that Liverpool fans were responsible for killing their own, amongst other lies. Is this the type of person you want representing your company? Steve Cohen has done this before, apologising when the outrage grew too large. Clearly, he will not stop, so our objective is to see him being put off air permanently.

I urge you to reconsider your purchasing of advertising.

I will be boycotting all your products and services until your support for Steve Cohen and his lies ends.

Thank you,

Jack The Lad
Gary Allen
sales@jackthelad.us and garyah63@msn.com

Press Display
Alex Kroogman
akroogman@newspaperdirect.com

PSG Sports
Nick Roberts
nickr@psgsports.com

Ruffneck Wear
Jeff McIntyre
jeff@ruffneckwear.com

Sporting Glory
Michael Coyle
michael.coyle@lawdit.co.uk

The Fix
Declan Hill
declanhill2002@yahoo.com

VIP Communications
customerservice@joinvip.com

Who Are Ya Designs
Moki Williams
moki@whoareyadesigns.com

Email thanking the sponsors supporting the campaign:

To whom it may concern,

I would like to congratulate and thank you on supporting the ongoing boycott of Steve Cohen for spreading lies about the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough. It is wonderful to see such corporate responsibility these days.

Whenever I have the chance, I will buy and recommend your products and services as my way of showing support for your company.

Thank you,

World Soccer Daily Shop
Jeff Stephens
JStephens@365-inc.com

Four Four Two Magazine
Ollie Stretton
Ollie.Stretton@haymarket.com

2010 World Cup Reading List


Only 393 days until the 2010 World Cup starts!
Excited? Have your tickets yet?

My computer's been broken the past few weeks. So I've no idea what the latest news is concerning the world's biggest sporting event.

Instead of regurgitating a load of news, here's a list of required reading to get you all caught up, complete with my oh-so-witty commentary ...

1 - Q and A with New York Times writer and ‘Outcasts United’ author Warren St. John.

If you haven't read John's initial piece about the Fugees youth soccer team from Clarkson, GA, do yourself the favor and get to it. It's a wonderful article about a 'group of youth soccer players in a small southern town who came from some of the most war-ravaged places on earth.'

Since the article was written in 2006, John's gone on to publish a book about the team. Not about the World Cup, but certainly about the powerful affect of football on people, a team and a community.

2 - Rapper AKON is writing the 2010 World Cup anthem.

“I’ve been hired as musical director for the World Cup,” he told the Daily Mirror. “I will be overseeing the World Cup anthem and music at the ceremonies and I’m off to South Africa this week for meetings. I love soccer so it’s a great honor.”

3 - Kenya's players will receive 1 million Kenyan shillings if they qualify for the World Cup.

That works out to about $13,000 American dollars. Yes, please ...

4 - This is truly an African World Cup. Mauritius has teamed up with FIFA to join Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and hosts South Africa in a top line-up of accommodation providers.

The initiative forms part of FIFA's and the Local Organizing Committee's objective to host an African World Cup and make sure that the entire Southern African region benefits from the global football showpiece.

"We always said it is Africa's World Cup. To be part of the 2010 accommodation program is a great marketing opportunity for the tourism industry in the entire Southern African region to directly benefit from the World Cup. Mauritius and the other Southern African countries in the accommodation team have the unique chance to showcase fans from all over the world during the four weeks between June 11 and July 11, 2010 the splendid and diverse landscapes and the incredible hospitality the region has to offer," explained FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.

5 - Big news as far as the African domestic game goes, as Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose has resigned and taken over the Angola coaching post.

In his six years in charge, Ahly won the African Champions League four times.

Angola hosts the 2010 African Cup of Nations next January.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Broken Computer


My computer is broken. Such is life.

I can’t:
- Write blog posts.
- Communicate with anyone.
- Keep up with 2010 World Cup news.
- Function normally.

The problem should be fixed by the beginning of next week. So expect new posts and ‘witty’ comments then.
Imagine if this happens to me on the road to South Africa ... what then?!?

I'll be back ASAP, stronger than ever. So don't leave me just yet ...

2010, here I come!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Confederations Cup Update


South Africa has sold half of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup tickets - about 320,000 of the almost 640,000 tickets.

This is good news, as South African Cup organizers recently complained about the sluggish ticket sales.

The Confederations Cup starts on June 14 at the Ellis Park stadium as hosts South Africa play Asian champions Iraq.

About 95 % of the tickets have been purchased by South Africans, according to the World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC).

“After opening the ticketing sales for the FIFA Confederations Cup to the corporate market two months ago, we are very pleased with the feedback of the local business community. We do hope, that with the opening of the ticketing centers we will now have a similar positive response of the general republic,” said FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke.

“From now on, with the launch of the ‘over the counter’ sales in ticketing centers, we are convinced it will be even easier for our football supporters to obtain tickets. By simplifying the process we are certain South Africans will now find it easier to purchase their tickets and we hope this will create the necessary demand to sell out all matches for the tournament,” said Danny Jordaan, CEO of the Organizing Committee.

MY POV: Fans can only hope South Africa puts on a decent tournament this summer. The Confederations Cup is usually a dry run of the real thing - the World Cup - which comes next summer.

Having ticketing centers is a wise move, as fans won't queue up at the stadium and cause havoc, as has been seen in other countries before.

The Organizing Committee seems pleased. All systems are go for this summer's tournament. Are they ready for the storm next year? Wait and see ...

10 Stars Who Will Break Out at 2010 World Cup


405 days to go ...

We previously discussed the Top 10 African Youngsters at the 2010 World Cup.

But who are the top 10 world players who we'll be talking about by next summer's tournament?

According to John Molinaro of CBC Sports in Canada, these are the guys you should be paying attention to ... what do you think? Break out stars or busts?

Bruno Alves, 27, Portugal (above)
Alves is a bit of a late bloomer (he only made his national team debut two years ago) but the FC Porto star is an imposing and tenacious central defender, very much in the mould of Chelsea star and countryman Ricardo Carvalho.

Michael Bradley, 21, United States
Even though he's the son of U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, Michael earned his spot on the American roster with his consistent and steady performances while patrolling the midfield for German club Borussia Monchengladbach.

Claudio Bravo, 26, Chile
Bravo is only six-feet tall (relatively small for a goalkeeper) but the Chilean captain is a talented shot-stopper who has looked pretty impressive since joining Spanish side Real Sociedad in 2006.

Patrick Helmes, 25, Germany
Helmes comes from good soccer stock, as his father, Uwe Helmes, was a former player. What makes Patrick, who plays for Bayer Leverkusen, so dangerous are his excellent finishing skills in front of the net and his ability to score with both feet.

Milan Jovanovic, 28, Serbia (above)
This Serbian striker has established quite a name for himself with Standard Liege in Belgium, scoring goals at an alarming rate. His greatest asset is his ability to hold onto the ball when being chased down, not to mention his composure inside the penalty area.

Seydou Keita, 29, Mali
He doesn't get the credit he deserves at FC Barcelona, as he's often overshadowed by the likes of Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o. But there's no denying his invaluable contributions on the field as a tough-tackling, defensive central midfielder.

Riccardo Montolivo, 24, Italy
A cultured, left-sided midfielder with Italian club Fiorentina, Montolivo is a creative player with a great touch on the ball who is just as comfortable slotting in the centre of midfield as the chief playmaker and directing the attack.

Cristian Riveros, 26, Paraguay
Think of him as the Paraguayan Patrick Vieira, the Frenchman who starred for Les Bleus at the 1998 World Cup. Riveros is a sensational, two-way midfielder, who uses his size and strength to outmuscle opponents and runs himself into the ground for 90 minutes.

Tatsuya Tanaka, 26, Japan
Deployed either as a striker or a winger, the diminutive Tanaka is a real live wire with the ball at his feet, using his speed and sublime ball control to take defenders on one-on-one and make things happen in the attacking third of the field.

Amr Zaki, 26, Egypt
The Egyptian forward came out of nowhere and took the English Premier League by storm this season, scoring bags of goals for Wigan Athletic. Zaki has been compared to English legend Alan Shearer for his sheer ruthlessness when it comes to scoring goals.