Entries in World Cup (9)


South Africans Protest Electronic Road Tolls

iStockphot​o/Thinksto​ck(JOHANNESBURG, South Africa) -- Thousands of people marched in 32 cities across South Africa to protest proposed road tolls.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) organized the marches and according to BBC News, the protests are the biggest in years.

Cosatu officials say the electronic tolls would affect the poor and cause unnecessary burden on an already suffering population.

The government built new roads and highways ahead of the 2010 World Cup and in order to recoup the money spent on construction and improvements to the nation’s infrastructure, the government plans to introduce tolls between Johannesburg and Pretoria starting on April 30.

The introduction of electronic tolling was stalled several times after Cosatu threatened strikes and objections by businesses.

Government officials said they acknowledged opposition to the fees but the system will still be implemented.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


North Korea Upsets Japan in Historic Soccer Match

Pixland/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- The North Korean soccer team led an emotional upset over Japan in a historic World Cup qualifier on Tuesday -- the first played between the teams in Pyongyang in 22 years.

Fifty thousand fans packed Kim Il-Sung Stadium, decked largely in black but waving red North Korean flags. The sound of drums and silver megaphones drowned out the dozens of Japanese fans who were granted special visas for the game and told to support their team quietly.

Pyongyang granted visas to 200 Japanese nationals ahead of the game -- 150 fans, two dozen journalists and diplomats -- along with strict rules accompanying their visit.  Fans were banned from bringing laptops, cellphones and cameras with zoom lenses, as well as drums, vuvuzelas, and Japanese flags.

Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties, and Tokyo has strongly discouraged travel to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) since imposing economic sanctions in 2006 following a North Korean missile launch. But the two sides made an exception in the name of sports.

The match ended 1-0, with North Korea scoring the goal early in the second half.  Despite the loss, Team Japan advances to the final round of qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, while North Korea is out.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan World Cup Soccer Victory Helps Rebuild National Pride

Thorsten Wagner/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Chants of "Nippon!" -- "Japan!" -- echoed throughout Tokyo Monday in the early morning hours, as the Japanese women's national team twice came from behind to force a shootout that they won to capture the country's first World Cup title.

The victory, in which they outscored the United States 3-1 in the shootout after twice tying the game, capped an emotional run for a team that upset local favorite Germany and Sweden to reach their first appearance in the World Cup finals.  In the process, they inspired a nation still reeling from its worst natural disaster and nuclear accident.

"We fought until the very end, I didn't stop running," team captain Homare Sawa said in an interview with Japanese media.  "I've been fighting to be number one for so long -- this just seems unreal to me."

Japan had not beaten the Americans in 25 previous meetings, but the team nicknamed "Nadeshiko" -- the Japanese word for beautiful flower -- played for a purpose greater than soccer this time around.

The team dedicated the tournament to victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which killed 25,000 people.  Their unlikely run lifted a wounded nation, and their success temporarily knocked news about radiation scares and aftershocks off the front pages.

In Tokyo, fans piled into sports bars at 3:45 a.m. Monday to cheer on their beloved team.

At the Footnik sports bar in Ebisu, Yukihiro Kaneta watched nervously as Alex Morgan scored the first American goal in the 67th minute.  By the time Sawa flicked in a corner kick to tie the game 2-2 in the 117th minute, Kaneta was feeling a little hopeful.

The standing room only bar erupted in chants of "Japan" after the United States' Shannon Boxx missed the first kick in the shootout.  Fans embraced each other while others wept quietly after Saki Kumagai successfully kicked a goal to secure the first World cup win for the national team.

"I can't believe what's happening.  It's a miracle," Kaneta said, struggling to drown out the cheers in the room.  "The Japanese team finally made it."

For Leigha Miyata, the stunning victory was symbolic of a team that has come to represent hope for a country uncertain about its future.

More than four months after the disasters, thousands of evacuees remain in shelters, while nearly 100,000 people have been displaced because of radiation concerns.

"I think this is a great starting point for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami," she said.  "They'll see how far Japan can go, even with the odds stacked against them."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Women's World Cup Frenzy Has Gone Intergalactic

Pixland/Thinkstock(FRANKFURT) -- The United States Women's Soccer Team is battling Japan in the World Cup Championship today in Frankfurt, Germany, and soccer fever is sizzling stateside like it never has before.

The U.S. women's soccer team, now the top-ranked team in the world, kicked its way past Brazil and France in thrilling quarter and semifinal games and is now just one game away from winning its third World Cup title.

"I think the success of the USA women's national team has always been top notch, but the manner in which they have done it during this World Cup has absolutely captivated the entire nation," said Alecko Eskandarian, a former player with the L.A. Galaxy of Major League Soccer.

He said the way the United States came back to deafeat Brazil in the quarterfinals alone should change the way Americans think about soccer.

"Their dramatic victory over Brazil was one of the most exciting finishes to a match I had seen in quite some time, regardless of gender," he said. "Much like the heroic goal by Landon Donovan in the World Cup last year on the men's side, Americans are finally starting to recognize the excitement of soccer rather than dismissing it as boring or low-scoring."

Soccer has long been popular in the United States as a youth sport, but that popularity hasn't always translated to interest in the sport on an adult level. Major League Soccer has teams in 18 cities, but in most the game plays second fiddle to other pro sports.

For many young soccer players around the country, the goalkeeper Hope Solo, forward Abby Wambach, midfielder Megan Rapinoe, team captain Christie Rampone and the rest have made their mark.

"To me they've always been my favorite, and they're the best team to me even if they win or lose," Nicole Edwards, a 12-year-old camper at Chicago Storm Soccer Camp in Algonquin, Ill., told ABC station WLS-TV in Chicago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan Cheers Women's Soccer Team to World Cup Finals

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(FRANKFURT, Germany) -- The U.S. women's soccer team secured their spot in the finals with a win over France, while fans in Japan stayed up all night to watch their team advance over Sweden.

"After all we've been through...these women are giving us reason to hope," a fan for Japan says.

Team Japan's success has united a country in desperate need of something to cheer for. Four months after a massive tsunami and earthquake devasted the country's northeast coast, the Japanese continue to deal with daily radiation scares, aftershocks and political fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The women's national soccer team -- nicknamed "Nadeshiko," referring to the unadorned, clean beauty of a Japanese woman -- has dedicated each game to disaster victims in their home country, making the players unlikely heroes.  This will be Japan's first time to the finals, according to FIFA.

The U.S. and Japan face off on Sunday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man-Made Clouds to Shield World Cup Soccer Fans in Qatar's Heat?

Pixland/Thinkstock(DOHA, Qatar) -- With temperatures in the summer sometimes reaching 122 degrees Fahrenheit, government scientists in Qatar are working on ways to keep fans cool ahead of the 2022 World Cup, to be hosted in the country.

Some parts of the open-air stadiums will be cooled with solar-powered air-conditioning units, but the bottom line is that it’s still going to get very hot in the arenas as spectators sweat out the tournament, in more ways than one.  So Qatari scientists have come up with an idea for artificial clouds that will shield the fans from direct sunlight.

The plan is to develop zeppelin-like inflated platforms that move easily and are wind-resistant.  Since they’ll be filled with helium and made from ultra-light fabrics, these "clouds" -- at an estimated cost of $500,000 apiece -- will be about as light as the real ones, and can be moved as necessary to block the sun, providing shade to cover the whole stadium if necessary.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


India Wins: Beats Pakistan in World Cup Cricket Collision

Daniel Berehulak/Getty ImagesREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK BY Nicholas S. Schifrin

(MOHALI, India) -- India has beaten Pakistan in the "thrilla in Mohali," the 2011 semifinal of the Cricket World Cup.

About 1.4 billion people live in the two countries, and hundreds of millions outside of South Asia were watching.

The match, as everyone in this part of the world has been tweeting and Facebooking about for nearly a week, is much more than an eight-hour sporting event. Serious sport, George Orwell once said, is "war without the shooting," as Time magazine's Omar Waraich noted -- and that is never more true than when India and Pakistan meet on the playing field.

The two countries that have fought three wars share culture, religion, history, even families -- and the love of the sport that the British left behind.

To help American readers understand what I'm talking about, consider this thought experiment:

Take baseball, the "national pastime," and everything it represents to U.S. culture -- read the prologue of Underworld, watch Field of Dreams, consider Lou Gehrig's story. Then, take the pre-steroid-era worship of the baseball player: the families around their TVs watching New York's teams (back when they included the Dodgers and the Giants), the four million kids playing Little League today, the image of a father and son sitting behind home plate. And then expand it out. Give every American kid -- rich and poor -- in every small park in every part of the United States a cheap baseball, bat, makeshift bases and a glove, because cricket doesn't need all that equipment. Eliminate basketball and soccer. Replace Babe with Sachin, Cy with Muttiah. Then, you will begin to understand what cricket means to South Asia.

Of course, this match wasn't even only about sport.

"Cricket diplomacy" is a 30-year-old phrase, but it is being practiced again. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited his counterpart, Pakistani Prime Minster Yusuf Raza Gilani, to watch the match together.

They undoubtedly talked a lot about Pakistan's low run rate and a little bit about the major issues that still separate the two countries politically: Kashmir, water, terrorism.

But still, even if there will be no major breakthroughs, South Asians can look back on Wednesday as continuing a legacy that has helped thaw enmities.

In 2004, the Indian national team toured Pakistan, helping reignite the peace process for the first time in 15 years. In 2005, then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf tried to diffuse tensions over Kashmir during meetings with Singh that took place around an India-Pakistan cricket match in New Delhi. In 1987, then-dictator Gen. Zia ul Haq went to Jaipur, India to watch Pakistan play India at a time when both countries massed additional troops at their shared border. And then the opposite: In 2008, after Pakistani militants committed the worst act of terrorism in India's history, India's cricket team cancelled a highly anticipated tour of Pakistan.

As the Indian sports minister asked undiplomatically at the time, "Is it possible for one team to arrive in Mumbai and indulge in mass murder, and have another team go and play cricket in the winter afternoon sun at Lahore immediately after?"

Today, the relationship remains tense but has improved dramatically, and the Pakistan team was as gracious in defeat as the Indian team was gracious in victory. The same went for their fans.

"Congratulations India.... you outbatted and outfielded us..... Well done," wrote a Pakistani on Twitter.

"We won the match, you won our hearts!!" wrote one particularly generous Indian.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


'Paul' The Octopus Is Memorialized

File Image. Image Courtesy - Getty Images(OBERHAUSEN, Germany) -- A fitting tribute to 'Paul' The Octopus has now been established in Germany.
At Oberhausen's Sea Life Aquarium, they've unveiled a six-foot-high replica of Paul clutching a soccer ball in his eight arms and inside the ball is a gold-leafed urn, holding his ashes.

The world's most famous prognosticator from the animal kingdom became a household name last summer with his long string of winning picks during the World Cup.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Russia, Qatar to Host 2018 and 2022 World Cups

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ZURICH) -- FIFA's executive committee announced Thursday that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar will host the following tournament in 2022.

Russia beat out England and joint bids by Spain and Portugal, as well as the Netherlands and Belgium. Russia becomes the first Eastern European country to host the World Cup.

Qatar topped bids from the U.S., Australia, Japan and South Korea.  It becomes the smallest country and the first in the Middle East to host the event.

President Obama commented on the decision saying, "I think it was the wrong decision. But I continue to be optimistic that our team -- wherever we're playing -- is gonna make it to the finals the next time."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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