World Cup Digest: Vuvuzelas away

It’s late, so let’s go with an audio-visual kind of digest . . .

Here is the obligatory — and necessary — wider cultural examination of the World Cup, done better than anywhere else I have seen it. Or, in this case, heard it. You’ll have to hurry to listen to this in the next four days, or download the podcast free from iTunes and have it for as long as you want. But Trevor Nelson’s BBC radio tour of South Africa is both illuminating and moving, from a journalist who both loves the game of soccer and hates the racial history of South Africa.

Nelson repeatedly during this program says, “I never thought I would ever come to South Africa,” and struggles openly throughout the program with deciding whether having the event there is a good thing or an unnecessary drain on an impoverished country.

Nelson’s work here is fantastic, and deserves a listen. Click here for the web page, available from the BBC for four more days.

— Just two days from the telecast of the first World Cup match, between Mexico and host South Africa, and having watched several of the friendlies in preparation, the players aren’t the only ones who will have to get used to the incessant blowing of plastic vuvuzela horns by South African fans. It sounds like a swarm of bumble bees in the background on television. I can only imagine the sound in real life. The Associated Press takes a look at the phenomenon.

— The World Cup is spawning videos all over the place. This adidas original has generated better than 2.2 million views on YouTube. Star Wars meets soccer meets Beckham. Oh, and Snoop Dogg wields a light saber.

–In all seriousness, a few more links worth clicking:

  • Goldman Sachs has produced a 75-page document on the economics of the World Cup, breaking down each participating country individually. Read about the report here, or download the report itself (PDF format).

  • The New Republic’s excellent World Cup blog, The Goal Post, introduces you to Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, and he’s well worth getting to know. He’s widely known to fans as El Loco, no translation necessary, I think. He refuses to own a car, visits the zoo for coaching inspiration and recently had Chile play two friendlies in the same day. Read more.

  • And finally, not entirely seriously, Deadspin interviews one of its own, soccer guru David Hirshey, and the result is a lighthearted romp of the order of “The Hangover,” but with more sex. Read it here, parental discretion advised. Excerpt, this being Hirshey’s take on the USA-England opener:

    Every one of the 64 (World Cup matches) is big, though England vs. USA is only significant in terms of Anglo-American relations, which have really gone to hell, as far as I’m concerned ever since Russell Brand slept with Katy Perry. Oh, and there’s some thing with BP…

    The bottom line is that June 12 is going to be hell on earth. The smug Brits vs. the brash Americans. Wayne Rooney is in the form of his life — he’s even more focused than when he was shagging all those grandma hookers in Liverpool — and the Yanks still don’t seem like they’ve found four guys in a country of 300 million who can play solid defense. Which is why my heart says a 1-1 tie would be a miraculous result for us, but my head, my mustache, and my torn meniscus all say England 3, US 1.

Keep coming back. There will be more digesting (digestion?) tomorrow . . .


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