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Day: June 16, 2010

World Cup 2010: Honduras 0-1 Chile

ITV 1 gives twenty minutes introduction time to this 12.30 kick-off. But its 12.26 before the actual game it self is addressed, the rest being about England, who aren’t playing for another 55 hours. Honduran kids, we are told, have to learn all seven verses of their national anthem. If that was the case in Britain we’d all know the bit about “rebellious Scots to crush” – which would double the Scottish National Party’s vote in one single history lesson. Jon Champion promises that we’ll get an abridged version. But the Chilean anthem appears to be cut off halfway through a verse, as the crowd and players sing on regardless for about three lines after the music stops. If they really have had to cut it short for an ad break, I might give up on ITV altogether – bar Adrian Chiles who has lived up to and surpassed all the hype. Remember Steve Rider? Exactly. Chile have predicted that they can make the semi-finals, at which Champion expresses incredulity. But, as he informs us, they finished second in the South American qualifying group and were top scorers. So why not? The game itself backs up Chile’s case rather than Champion’s. It’s a relief and a delight in equal measure that we have two teams whose first instinct is to attack. It’s just a pity that only Chile are...

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World Cup 2010: South Africa 0-3 Uruguay

Today is National Youth Day in South Africa. It marks the anniversary of the start of the 1976 Soweto riots, which began with the death of twenty-three people after the police opened fire on a protest in the township against the imposition of Arikaans in schools. The events of that day caused revulsion around the world – prompted in no small part by a horrific photograph of a dying child, twelve year-old Hector Pieterson, which flashed around the world – and sparked the consciences of many millions of people. It took almost two decades, but apartheid began to die that day. The ultimate sacrifice of those that died on the 16th of June 1976 (as well as many more before and afterwards) would lead to the freedom and salvation of the country. It is, therefore, utterly appropriate that the South African national team should play today, that football, the game of the oppressed under that wretched regime, should take the centre stage on this of all days. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the atmosphere at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria is thunderous. The South African team sing in the tunnel before the match, and the South African National Anthem rushes out of the speakers on the television. Seldom can it have been sung with such pride and such conviction. But can South Africa, who have the mother of home advantages this...

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World Cup 2010: Spain 0-1 Switzerland

The important thing with covering a World Cup which has been so slow to start as this one is, basically, to at least try and keep yourself entertained. As such, our intrepid crayon-tester and some-time football journalist Dotmund had something of an ‘episode’ and decided to file his report of the Group H match between the reigning European Champions Spain and Switzerland in handwritten form. With sketches. He hopes this novel approach will become the paradigm for all sports reporting in this country. We are just glad that it keeps him off the streets.

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Supporters Direct: A Better Alternative Vision For Football

In the three years since I last attended the annual conference of the supporters’ trusts umbrella organisation, Supporters Direct (SD), there have been significant changes. Communications manager Kevin Rye’s suits have got sharper. Chief Executive Dave Boyle’s suit… well, he was wearing one (although it would be cruel to suggest it was made to measure while he was elsewhere, so I won’t). The seats on the top table have got comfier… to the point of luxuriousness. And the food has got better – some of those attending won’t eat as well until next year’s conference. But most importantly of all, as football’s governance becomes more widely recognised as the key to the game’s future, SD has become more damn right than ever, with a report to prove it. And the organisation looks more ready to persuade everybody who matters in the game that they are more right than ever. The two-day event took place in the unfeasibly plush surroundings of the IET building in London’s Savoy Place – I feel I should be wearing a tie just typing that, let alone attending a conference there. And the theme was a strong reflection of the changing mood within football. SD is only a decade down the line from being a “something must be done” protest movement. So it was inevitable that the “man the barricades” section of the community would...

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Mungo in Africa, part 2

In the latest update from the steel cage death match which is the Clack TV World Cup studio, Glasgow Paisley manager Henny Jings lets his international counterparts have it with both barrels. However, Mungo McCrackas is working on a more eloquent solution yet. Could this be just what is needed to blow the dust away and get the 2010 World Cup into a new gear? Who knows, Mungo is particularly resourceful.

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