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World Cup Fever

BandeiraTemperature is rising. As we enter the World Cup week, ripples are turning into waves and everyone is being caught by the peculiar pulse that cannot be denied. Flags are already waving and those who were until now unaware about the gathering start to feel a strong urge to join, or else leave the planet. This year's edition will surely present a new face, or should I say, hundreds of millions of new faces ready to participate directly. We have never before had so prepared an environment for the expanded internationally networked exchange about the games as we have today.

“There are 186 thousand new websites just created for the world cup in Germany in the last few days. The survey was made by Websense.”
Web and CupBlog do Mesquita – Brazil

“There will be tens of millions of people around the globe, watching the games at fever pitch during the competition and the internet will provide a valuable outlet for discussion and information. Thousands of blogs will be written, photos of those lucky people at the games will be shared and enquiries to travel companies about the German cities hosting the games will be made.”
Metatags and metatarsals: the internet World CupInternet Advertising Bureau

“Following the raging popularity of such sites as MySpace.com and Orkut.com in Brazil, Nike executives approached Google with the idea of creating a social-networking site revolving around the world's most popular sport: soccer. Unlike MySpace.com, however, Joga.com will be a community that focuses on one topic and one passion: soccer, or “football,” as it is known outside the U.S.”
Nike, Google Kick Off Social-Networking SiteFrom Istanbul To Sand Hill Road

“As for the overall numbers of people expected to watch the World Cup, 28 billion people in aggregate are expected to tune in at some point during the tournament, with 1.2 billion, or 17 percent of the world’s population, tuning in for the July 9 final. The other 83 percent of will be clicking the remote searching in vain for something more interesting than watching 22 men in shorts kick a ball. I wish them well in their existential efforts.”
Billions of Eyes on the World CupWorld Cup Blog

Inovative news sites mash-ups, collective blogs, live video streamings, videoblogs, contests, online games, online virtual stadiuns, and many other novelties will be launched onto this global stage. All this connecting will help make the 2006 edition not only the most pervasive event ever, but also the most globally shared user experience known to date. What about those few under the sun who do not care about balls and goals? Blogs are talking about those differences as well:

“And from now on, this blog is almost totally devoted to football and the World Cup. As it is the most important competition in the world. It is because it is the World Cup, godammit! And if you don't like football, the problem is yours. Who cares about you?”
#Call me James – Brazil

“From 9 June to 9 July 2006, you should read the sports section of the newspaper so that you are aware of what is going on regarding the World Cup, and that way you will be able to join in the conversations. If you fail to do this, then you will be looked at in a bad way, or you will be totally ignored. DO NOT complain about not receiving any attention..”
AExtremely important advice and recomendations to wives, girlfriends, fiancés, mothers, sisters, daughters, etc. (all women in general)Rotten side – Brazil
Full translation available here.

“As everybody should know by now, the most ‘macho’ event on the planet will soon start: the World Cup! We have to figure out how one must behave with his women… I mean, with each one's woman, that's better. Women have a distorted idea about the event. They think we will only watch Brazil's games, but the world cup has 64 games, which makes 96 hours of play, 5,760 minutes. If they complain, tell them that the world cup happens only once in four years but in four years there are 87,600 minutes of soap-operas. This makes a difference, don't you think?”
FutebolHrtbreak – Brazil

“Sorry, nation. Forgive me, Brazilian people, if I dishonor the only honorable position you believe our country stands for… But I hate football, and I don't give a damn if Brazil doesn't make it… Besides, for me it would be better, as my ears would be saved from those hellish fireworks (which, curiously sound like music to me on New Year's Eve)”
Sorry, ó Brazil!Ai, ai, ai… enough!!! – Brazil

I believe Brazilian fever at these times is unique, as it is fueled by a long history of spectacular wins and a certain kind of developed pride that gets challenged each time the cup is being contested. But some rivalries are so deep and intense, such as with close neighbor Argentina, that they are capable of echoing on the other site of the planet, in far away… Bangladesh!

“That's it. Maradona, the greatest Argentinean player ever, went beyond all rivalries in agreeing to do the commercial, and the result is this funny ad for a Brazilian national soft-drink. It's obvious that our ‘hermanos’ must have noticed this in the airwaves and many must have lost some hours of sleep. After all, Maradona and Pelé are like symbols of a never ending dispute between the two countries. It all turns back to that old line: who is the best? Both are good, but no one can deny our five world titles.”
Maradona in Green and Yellow?Elias’ Space – Brazil

“This commercial has caused big controversy in Argentina, where many considered it a sacrilege to watch Diego with the green-yellow shirt. Considering that the ‘nightmare’ made 180 thousand dollars for Maradona, it's clear that there is nothing a bunch of green notes cannot buy. And you, dear reader, what is your opinion? I am interested in Argentinean comments.
Diego, Hay Diego!!Hey Dude! – Argentina

“World Cup favourites Brazil and Argentina are engaged in an unlikely aerial battle in sports-mad Bangladesh as football fever reaches boiling point in the South Asian nation… Skies of cities, towns and villages across the country were this weekend full of Brazilian and Argentine flags as fans displayed loyalty to their favourite teams. So much is the love for the two teams that at Aminbazar, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of the capital, more than 10,000 villagers have been divided into two blocks of fans.”
Brazil-Argentina battle lines drawn in BangladeshJamaicaobserver.com

“A Bangladeshi cleric has called on Muslims not to fly the flags of any “infidel” nations playing in the World Cup as football fever gripped the sports-mad country… “these acts are un-Islamic”
Daily Times – Pakistan

‘All academic activities of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology have been suspended till July 14,’ said a spokesman for the state-run institution. About 2,000 students held demonstrations on the campus in the capital, demanding a World Cup vacation for viewing all the matches on television. After watching late night televised matches, it would be impossible to concentrate on studies the following morning, argued graduate student Anisul Huq.
‘World Cup vacation’ in Bangladesh varsityIndia e-News

The special aura of immense consequence carried by this peculiar sport modality is being each day more universally acknowledged in the world. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recently stated: ‘As the only sport that is played in every country, and by every race and religion, football is as rare a phenomena in the world as is the United Nations.’ He wished that the same enthusiasm could fuel discussions about the economic development of poor countries, reducing greenhouse gases or combating AIDS. Political scientists repeatedly point out the instrumental use of popular passion, as it is widely known that the sport is used as a tool for populist governments to maintain control over alienated populations.

“The whole society looses with this collective mesmerized staring at the German green fields while other ‘balls’ are rolling in Brazilian Congress. I try to tell them that if Brazil wins or looses any game in this World Cup, even if the championship escapes at the second half's fortieth minute; my life will still be the same! To no avail, I played the cynic to everybody — the one who doesn't believe in anything, who has a hopelessly cold heart.”
Cup, Kitchen, and other ballsWhat about some cooffe? – Brazil

“Apart from victories or losses, the truth is that for the first time in its history — which has not been written because José Eduardo Santos gave priority to writing about the history of his party — Angola is in the World Cup. This is the very thing which Angolans love, making them temporarily forget the suffering, and dry the tear which is always in the corner of the eye waiting for the first chance to roll down through the face.”
From one loss to another till the final victoryThe Araut – Angola

“‘The announcement that Omar Bongo (Gabonese President) decided to offer the World Cup to his country's youth was divulged to the world yesterday by Gabonews — which incomprehensibly has still not adopted the name Bongonews — after René Ndemez Obiang, the Minister for Communications, had announced it exactly in these terms: ‘The President decided to pay for the right to retransmit the games in the name of the whole set of Gabonese TV networks.’ Some quick hand has already published the information in the President's official website (www.omarbongo.org) , the man who's been governing Gabon for almost 40 years, insisting on this ‘offering’ formula. Bongo, who had already ‘offered’ the African Cup games to the Gabonese youth in January, is ‘cool’. If not for his generosity, only the private TV — which paid for the retransmission exclusiveness — could exhibit the games. Bongo, there is only one — Omar and no one more.”
One BongoAfricandar – Angola

The World Cup economics and demographics somehow show that globalization is not only a movement toward uniformity. It also drives corporate and media interests to stimulate and channel emotions that enliven national identities. It seems inevitable that political forces will seek to exploit such an overwhelming hype. The event has carried through the years a heavy weight of financial, cultural, and political baggage but amazingly its vitality survives and keeps growing in its ability to grab attention.

“I am running from the great slaughter. I can't stand any more ‘information’ about the world cup. I am on the verge of getting crazy with the fans, the fans’ opinions, the commentators’ comments, the coaches, the ex-players. I am desperate with the country of professors marcelos that suddenly started to appear. Also the ‘reports’ about the football stars and the showbiz, the wives, the player's girlfriends, the ex-wives and the soon to be girlfriends, the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of the presidents, or the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of the ex-presidents”
The people's happiness is no the opiate of everybotyDaily Writing – Portugal

“Yes, I am not in the full faculties of my mind anymore. It's not normal, but it is stronger than I am. Guessing contests? I already participated in three and I am forming another group. Not to mention the album with world cup chromes. Or the files in ipod, which now carries thousand of goal narrations (the best is Taffarell defending of Ronald de Boer's penalty in 1998) and world cup themes. There are also different version and variations of the Brazilian national anthem – even in forró beat. I think I am with the ball fever. And I am not seeking a cure. Go to hell with everything because now it's official: football is the most important thing in the world.”
Ball FeverTotally without notion – Brazil

The first game is next Friday – Germany and Costa Rica. See you there, or here. We are connected. In the Information Age World Cup Fever is everywhere.

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