Brazilian football team Flamengo are playing a South American cup match in Bolivia. Their opponents, Real Potosi, are based in the high Andes and the stadium is nearly 4000 metres above sea level. In lashing rain, Flamengo fall 2-0 behind. Many of their players need bottled oxygen to alleviate the effects of altitude. Though they eventually fight back for a 2-2 draw, Flamengo announce after the game that they will no longer play matches at altitude.
So began football's "high altitude controversy". Flamengo's case was taken up by the Brazilian Football Confederation, which complained to the world governing body FIFA that venues in the high Andes were not suitable for football. In May 2007, FIFA ruled that "in the interests of player health", international matches could no longer be played above 2500 metres.
If Brazil thought that meant victory, they were not reckoning on a comeback by Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, who complained to FIFA that this would put a stop to international matches in their national stadiums. In response, FIFA suspended the ban pending further studies.
Fast-forward to June 2010 and altitude is again an issue in football. The World Cup in South Africa will be the first for 24 years to stage games at venues significantly above sea level. The main stadium, Soccer City in Johannesburg, is at 1701 metres. That's not quite the high Andes, but it is still high enough to have an effect. Six other venues are at altitude (see map). Will it have a bearing on the tournament?
Technology is set to meet soccer at a smartphone intersection when the World Cup begins June 11. This is a leap forward in technology with a clutch of iPhone apps that will enable fans to track games, watch highlights and glean information on players and teams.
Apple’s United States App Store offers a collection of World Cup and soccer-related programs. Nearly all of the apps (some of which also run on the iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Palm, Android and other devices) provide team-by-team analysis, match schedules, background on the stadiums being used for the tournament and a promise to provide real-time scoring updates once the tournament begins.....Read more here
For four action-packed weeks in June and July 2010, the largest international television audience ever to follow a single event will be watching the FIFA Soccer World Cup in South Africa. But what will happen after the trophy is lifted, the caravans move on, and the dogs stop barking?
International heavyweights like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, construction workers, FIFAs Communications Director, street traders, politicians, and sports celebrities wade into the debate. National pride, corruption and even murder feature in this astonishingly candid film which peels back the glossy media veneer to expose the real concerns of ordinary South Africans: hopes about jobs, the eviction of school children to make way for construction company offices, the removal of an inconvenient community.