Thursday, June 17, 2010

Robbie Earle's 50 free tickets.

Without the T.V. coverage, the majority of planet Earth would miss out on the World Cup. And what a travesty that would be.

The broadcasting of this showpiece is almost as critical as the football itself. It would seem that some of the best television broadcasting for this World Cup is in the United States. ABC shows it free-to-air with much of the other matches on pay-TV in the US with ESPN. ESPN have snapped up the legendary Martyn Tyler who most people will know from Sky in the UK or from his commentary on the Premier League matches broadcast ubiquitously across the globe. He is joined by Ian Darke and co-commentators such as Ally McCoist. Viewers in the States are quite pleased with this as the last time around in Germany the American and Irish commentary teams were below par.

Saying that, a part of me is a bit disappointed with the coverage in the UK. The BBC has long been without Des Lynam but Gary Lineker still doesn't do it for me. Hansen is still a legend but the token blacks included on the panels aren't in there on merit but to impose an African spirit to the showing.

I'd usually hate ITV's coverage and without Motty (not commentating but does some polemic on the highlights show) on BBC, I'd have to say that ITV have surpassed their licence funded rivals. Still, they've fallen for the "we should have black people for the African World Cup" trick as well.

Unusually, they sent home Robbie Earle as you will read. What on earth ITV were doing giving Robbie 50 free tickets I still don't know. 50?

Finally, I've touched upon the fact that Al Jazeera broadcasts in the Gulf and how difficult it has been for viewers there to watch - the fact it is subscription based World Cup viewing is still a bitter pill. But I suppose when FIFA handed out the rights to the World Cup it understood that the region had more disposable income than say an African country. But most or all of the countries around the world with the exception of China will show all or a portion of the matches for free.

It doesn't sit right. Not at all when you consider Al Jazeera broadcasts to the whole of North Africa as well as the rest of the Middle East. So it doesn't just affect the well-to-dos.

Anyway, a nation is on the verge of mourning. Bafana are a work in progress....a large construction no less. Forlan was magic in the hole but saying that he had a lot of time to turn for his first goal and controlled things without having anyone cover him.

As much as I feel sorry for South Africa they aren't ready as a team. They have such a rich heritage in the game but have lagged behind West African teams and North Africans to some extent for a while now. Having lived there, I know how passionate kids are for the game and how talented they are - raw diamonds.

But with the infrastructure they have in South Africa it is criminal that the sport hasn't churned out more Benni McCarthys or Nomvetes or Zumas. With the shift in political power I would have imagined that the mitigating circumstances of a racially divided sports scene would have eroded and there wouldn't be this rawness about the national team. At least they've got their vuvuzelas.

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