ENGLAND READY TO MOVE ON

England are getting ready for an international friendly against the World and European Champions, but will have a brave new look about them now that coach Fabio Capello has left out a few of the previously key performers out of the squad.

WIKILEAKS TO TARGET FIFA

In a few hours WikiLeaks will release thousands of secret FIFA documents detailing World Cup match fixing and widespread corruption within football’s governing body.

Never before have such confidential documents been released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into FIFA’s activities on the shores of Lake Zurich.

PRAY TO LIONEL

There is a Church of Maradona in Argentina with 120,000 members, but rumor has it that the Church of Leo Messi has opened its doors and its membership may soon reach into the millions. I’ve lost track of how many hat tricks, foot tricks, long-distance surface-to-air missiles, slaloms, chips, far-post benders, headers and assists Barcelona’s King of Football has given us. Pure joy.

There is hope that the hyper-fit, inverted pyramid, cynical and suffocating football so dominant in recent times will not completely silence the magical qualities of the beautiful game.

WORLD CUP TICKET MESS

600 FNB branches in South Africa failed soccer fans today. I waited at my branch for hours with students, cops, lecturers, government employees, farmers, housewives and South Africans from other walks of life only to be told that ‘the system was down’.

We waited with Job-like patience, hoping against hope that we could buy a ticket for a seat at stadiums built with the people’s tax money.

IT ALL DEPENDS ON ROO

When people ask me ‘Who will win the 2010 World Cup’ I tell them either Spain or England. Loaded with talent in the middle and up front, Spain have been magnificent in the past 3 years, as the Euro 2008 crown and the subsequent winning streak demonstrated.

Meanwhile, Capello has resurrected an English side that didn’t even qualify for Euro 2008, mixing tactical acumen with more traditional Anglo attributes and an experienced player corps.

BECKHAM EXCERPTS

In two weeks time the ageing David Beckham has to return to the United States and play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS (against the New York Red Bulls at Giant Stadium outside New York City). In January this year, Beckham left the MLS mid-season to go play for AC Milan in Italy’s Serie A. Blasphemous to the MLS. Not surprisingly, Beckham has not been very enthusiastic about returning to the US. In 2007 Beckham had arrived, with much fanfare, at the Galaxy.

What happens after the World Cup?

Football is often described as the “beautiful game”. Indeed, it is. As Michael Worsnip pointed out recently (The Witness, June 12), football on the local recreation ground reduces the possibility that young people will be tempted into crime. And, of course, South Africa will host a successful Fifa World Cup next year — if it tries hard enough. All of this is obvious. But what is crucially missing from public debate are a number of awkward political, economic and social questions.

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