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July 11, 2010

The hat man in action. © AP

We know a World Cup final can get very exciting. So much so that it goes to some people's heads.

Indeed, a man ran on to the pitch minutes before the start of the World Cup final and came very close to grabbing the trophy exhibited on the pitch. In fact, all he wanted to do was put a hat on it... maybe it was cold?

Several security men and stewards managed to wrestle him to the ground before he was able to touch the trophy. And, of course, he'll be watching the final from behind bars - at least for the night.

Reports that Nelson Mandela is being pressurised by FIFA to attend the World Cup final just underlines many people’s perception of the organisation – a money-grabbing self-important outfit which believes nothing can be allowed to stand in its way, not even an ailing 91-year-old.

It’s a common opinion FIFA’s big guns want to cap what they claim is a hugely successful tournament with the media-grabbing picture of them next to Mandela. It would be sure to make the front pages of newspapers across the world, all the more so after a family tragedy meant he stayed away from the opening ceremony.

If Mandela attends it should be because he wants to, for himself and his country, and not because attention-seeking administrators think it would be a great photo opportunity.

July 10, 2010

Love or loathe them … Ok, loathe them, but vuvuzelas may have met their match after falling foul of religious authorities in the UAE.

London’s Metro free newspaper has reported the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments has issued a blanket ban on the instruments claiming the noise levels of the instruments poses a threat to hearing.

The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi said thousands of vuvuzelas were imported to the UAE by World Cup fans and local authorities feared the horns could then appear at local football matches next season.

July 9, 2010

Howard Webb is the man in charge © Getty Images

Howard Webb's appointment as referee for the World Cup final has been greeted with dismay by the Spanish press.

The Yorkshire official was made the media's scapegoat for Spain's shock defeat by Switzerland in their opening game of the tournament, although neither coach Vicente del Bosque nor any of the players made critical remarks about his performance.

Spanish sports daily Marca said: ''Bad news - Webb will referee the final.'' Sports newspaper AS said Webb's appointment was ''debatable'' and that he had
made two mistakes in the game against Switzerland. While Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo was equally despondent ahead of the final against Holland saying: ''Bad memories for La Roja [The Reds].''

On a lighter note, we have That Mitchell and Webb link for you.

Howard Webb is referee for Sunday's final, exactly 60 years after Scotsman David Mitchell ran the line in the 1950 final. Comedy.

Finally, one of the tournament's biggest draws has made his final bow. Paul the psychic octopus has made his predictions for the World Cup final and third placed play-off. The eight-legged wonder picked Germany to overcome Uruguay and had Spain to win the whole tournament, by beating Netherlands.

So far he has managed to predict every single result for Germany, but this is the first time he has picked a game not involving his home nation. We will have to wait to see if Paul's last predictions leave punters squids in after the final.

If they don't, fans will wonder why they didn't listen to Manny the Parakeet, who picked the Dutch to come out on top. Apparently he squawks a good game, but doesn't have the record of a veteran like Paul.

Ronaldo's toe ©Daily Mirror; Splash

Even with a World Cup final on the horizon, Cristiano Ronaldo still manages to make headlines in the British press.

The Portugal midfielder crashed out of the tournament a week ago, but now the Daily Mirror have the exclusive on the star's... toenails. As he was snapped with his nails painted in ''a bizarre gothic-style'' - or black to everyone not trying to sensationalise everything.

A brilliant quote from ''an onlooker'' describes the situation better than we ever could: "It looked pretty odd, he was the only man in the pool wearing nail polish, probably one of the only men in New York."

One thing is for sure: it's not bruises from all the goals (one) he's smashed in at the World Cup.

July 8, 2010

Holland celebrate that they won't be sleeping rough. © Getty Images

Well done to Holland. They made the final for the first time since 1978 and it was completely unexpected.. erm.. so much so that they didn't even bother booking a hotel this late into the tournament.

The team had only reserved rooms in the Sandton Hilton hotel until July 5, meaning they expected to go out to Brazil in the quarter-finals, and have now been forced to book new accommodation in Johannesburg.

Having begged the hotel to extend their stay beyond the semi-finals (which they managed to do), they have now pitched up at the Sunnyside Park hotel ahead of the final on Sunday. No-one likes moving house, especially when there's a big game on the horizon, so we hope they settle in quickly and get their eyes back on Spain.

July 7, 2010

A German football supporter has reportedly placed one of the largest ever bets on a World Cup match, staking $627,0000 (£413,000) on Germany to reach the final in Soccer City.

The fan is feeling confident that Joachim Low's side will beat Spain in Wednesday's semi-final, so placed the mammoth telephone bet with a British bookmaker at odds of 1.91.

The punter stands to win back a whopping $570,000 (£375,000) on top of the initial stake if Germany can beat Vicente del Bosque's charges over 90 minutes.

A replica World Cup trophy made from 11 kilos of cocaine was seized by police at Bogata airport in Colombia.

The trophy, made with cocaine mixed with a moulding agent believed to be gasoline, was picked up by anti-drugs officials in the capital, with Colonel Jose Piedrahita confirming that the cup was made from 11 kilos (24 pounds) of the Class A drug.

Complete with engravings, decorations and green and gold paint on the base, the trophy was found packed inside a box in a mail warehouse, addressed to be sent to Spanish capital Madrid.

Wayne Rooney takes home the unwanted gong© Getty Images

The 2010 World Cup was not a tournament for Wayne Rooney to remember: he failed to score a single goal and his England side were embarassed by Germany in the second round. Now, to add insult to injury, members of the website have named Wayne the ugliest player to have played at the finals.

Rooney pipped France winger Franck Ribery and former Manchester United team-mate Carlos Tevez to the "award", while the site's 200,000 surveyed users voted Fabio Cannavaro, ahead of Fernando Torres and David Villa, as the World Cup's most attractive player.

"Collectively, the worst looking team is Algeria," said Greg Hodge, managing director of "The term 'trophy head' could have been coined for most of their team.

"England follows close behind, captained [sic] by the most unattractive player on the planet, Wayne Rooney. The England team do have very beautiful wives and girlfriends, but this is surely due to their bank accounts which certainly makes them a lot more attractive."

The Top 11 ugliest were as follows:

1, Wayne Rooney, England
2, Franck Ribery, France
3, Carlos Tevez, Argentina
4, Vladimir Stojkovic, Serbia
5, Benjamin Huggel, Switzerland
6, Zdenko Strba, Slovakia
7, Rafik Saifi, Algeria
8, Scott Chipperfield, Australia
9, John Terry, England
10, Ryan Nelsen, New Zealand
11, Daniel Agger, Denmark

And these were the Top 11 "most beautiful" players:

1, Fabio Cannavaro, Italy
2, Fernando Torres, Spain
3, David Villa, Spain
4, Landon Donovan, USA
5, Thierry Henry, France
6, Edinson Cavani, Uruguay
7, Kaka, Brazil
8, Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
9, Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast
10, Keisuke Honda, Japan
11, David James, England

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