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Friday, November 25, 2005

George Best Dies...Eventually

I know this has little to do with World Cup football but the coverage of George Best's death has sickened me. He died - not 'passed over', 'passed away' or 'left us' - DIED today. This has struck me as odd because I've been reading what were, in effect, obituaries of this uniquely talented player all week.

The number of media types who were reporting nothing every day from outside his hospital has made me and - I'm sure- many other people extremely uncomfortable. It may be lazy to draw comparisons with vultures circling a weak and dying animal but in this particular case it's all too accurate.

The media (and that goes for all media - web, TV, print and radio) should have at least given Mr Best some dignity in his last hours, but no - that's too much for them. I'm not one for attacking the media's coverage of football and football personalities as a rule...but this was beyond the pale.

Much kudos goes to Mr Best Senior and the rest of the Best family for showing such dignity. And, of course...George Best, R.I.P.

posted by mark_s at 10:56 PM 0 comments

Iran Coach Under Pressure

Back in the mists of time, someone - probably Jimmy Hill - was the first person to say "'s a funny old game".

Allow me to be the latest. Having managed to qualify for next years' World Cup Finals in Germany, the Iranian national team - under coach Branko Ivankovic - has not performed to expectations . They've been beaten by Japan, South Korea and Macedonia in friendly matches.

The very fact that Ivankovic got such a small nation to the 2006 World Cup is something every Iranian soccer fan should be cheering. The friendlies are largely irrelevant, but it seems that expectation levels have changed dramatically and now people are calling for the coach's head. Luckily - given the nature of Iranian law - not literally.

It still surprises me that anyone should even think about sacking the guy that got them to the World Cup. This is craziness of the highest order.

Give the guy who got you there a chance to prove his quality against the big football nations or Iran will forever be thinking about what could have been.

posted by mark_s at 5:02 PM 0 comments

MSN In We Want Advertisers Money Shocker

Firstly forgive me for the lack of real World Cup football (or soccer if you're from North America) stuff on this blog at the moment. Things will pick up after the draw on December me !

In the meantime, I enjoyed this rare moment of honesty from MSN - as reported in
NetImperative, RevolutionMagazine and others :

"MSN has created a number of football-themed advertising opportunities, letting advertisers link their brand with these players. "

Essentially, there's going to be a whole bunch of unique content related to the 2006 World Cup on various MSN portals from such erudite thinkers as Michael Owen and Edgar Davids. Not to mention that Pulitzer prize winner in waiting Ronaldinho. Eager punters are promised behind the scenes info, insights, diaries and webcasts from what is - not being sarcastic now - a pretty high profile list of names.

It was the transparency of the press release (we're doing this to get some of that old football advertising money) that amused me. More honesty from those who want to cash in on next year's World Cup is definitely needed.

I'd like to see Coca Cola coming out and saying : "Well, as Americans, we don't truly understand soccer at all...but we do know that there's lots of people who do...that's our target market".

I want to see MacDonalds saying "For too long burger vans outside of football stadiums have been stealing potential business from the Global Borg that is MacDonalds...we need to wipe these people from the face of the planet and sell a few more terrible burgers to those lovely soccer...I mean ".

Yup, God bless globalisation !

posted by mark_s at 4:55 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More World Cup Sponsorship Tedium

FIFA are extremely happy to announce that Coca Cola - that flagship of athleticism and healthy living - have signed up as a major sponsor for the 2006 World Cup. Hardly surprising as Coca Cola seem to want to associate their brand with anything and everything.

Far be it from me to suggest that the World Cup Finals doesn't really need "an official drinks partner" and that over-exposing a brand like this will cause 'mental blindness' of the product. I mean what do I know...I'm just a humble punter.

Nevertheless, it's reassuring to see what people could claim are Coca Cola's real brand values coming out. They are already clashing with FIFA over
the use of non-environmentally friendly plastic bottles for their dark gooey, um, drink thing. The German environmental minister isn't happy about this, saying it undermines the 'green initiative' of the 2006 World Cup and I, for one, don't blame him.

Now...back to the football !

posted by mark_s at 12:17 PM 0 comments