Silly Sunday #30 FIFA, World-Cup, Orange, Octopuses & More

11 07 2010

The Netherlands turns orange again, the colour of the Dutch Team. After 32 years, Oranje plays the World Cup final tonight.

A good moment to write a Silly Sunday post, with some silly and some less silly topics.

Lets begin with the serious ones.

It seems that not all African countries love football.

The al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab has banned playing soccer in Somalia. It prohibits broadcasts of the World Cup, describing the sport as “a satanic act” that corrupts Muslims. They threaten Somali soccer players and anyone who has challenged their extreme views. Worse, in the past month, they have killed at least five people for watching the World Cup. Read more at the Washington Post and at (NL)

Despite concerns about South Africa‘s ability to host the World Cup, so far the tournament has gone off without any major incidents.  The major hiccups concerned transport.

I enjoy the football matches, I like the chit-chat at tv about the Dutch team, but I’m not charmed by the way the FIFA keeps the organization in a stranglehold like a giant octopus. And I’m not talking about FIFA’s non-response to wrong decisions of referees nor its unwillingness to introduce new technology to assist the referees. But about the non-transparancy and their too big fingers (or rather arms! aka monopoly) in the pie of football revenues. The latter permits it to extract immense rents from countries (US$1 billion per year, with an additional US$ 3 billion generated in the year when the World Cup is held). Most of its revenue is generated through their control over television and marketing rights for games.
As I’ve experienced in the UK last week, the Dutch NOS-television blocks abroad, because the NOS is under contractual obligation to broadcast only in the Netherlands.  The FIFA also has a strict regulations with respect to advertisements. The entire world could witness that women were arrested because they wore Dutch orange dresses with microscopic Bavaria logos, because official sponsor Budweiser is the only beer company allowed to advertise within FIFA venues (see
More seriously are the consequences of this monopoly for South Africa. Read why the Daily Maverick concludes that “the price of staging this spectacle is that we had to make a deal with the devil. We signed over sovereign rights to foreigners who, secretly, despise us.”

Social Media and Football don’t seem to go hand-in-hand. Mashable reports that besides alcohol and sex, coaches increasingly institute ad hoc bans on social media sites. “So far, players on the teams from Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Holland, Germany, Argentina and England are forbidden to use social services such as Twitter.”

As a link to the humorous part, Dutch can read this  column of Youp van het Hek in the NRC about Budler (and more).

Many Brazilians disliking Brazil’s leading sports announcer, Galvão Bueno, twittered “Cala Boca Galvão.”, which means “shut up Galvão”. It became a trending topic on Twitter and tweople start asking what it meant. Someone made up it meant “Help us save the Galvão birds”. In fact “gavião,” (hawk) resembles Galvão.  Websites and videos were made to substantiate this. The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote on Twitter: “CALA BOCA GALVÃO is the Brazilian version of a homeopathic remedy SILENTIUM GALVANUS.” (sources: NY Times and [nl]). So indirectly animal lovers and animal rights activists helped to spread the word like parrots… A brilliant practical joke.

Speaking about homeopathy, the Octopus Paul who has accurately predicted all knock-out matches till now seems to be an example of a placebo-effect: believing in a certain outcome helps to establish this. People take it very seriously, and threatened to use the octopus as an ingredient in a meal. Not paella, because the octopus has favored Spain as the Winner. However, I seriously doubt the experimental settings, as one of the boxes the octopus can choose from is always closer to the octopus than the other, and he always seems to choose the closest (possibly he is not psychic, but intelligent). Furthermore, the experimenters were not blinded to the outcome and neither was the octopus.
By the way the Octopus has competition of an exotic birdan Aardvark, a chimpanzee and others who all have predicted another outcome of the Final, namely the victory of the Dutch!! However, some have accused the animals of orange bias.
Anyway in support of the Dutch I have changed my avatar on Twitter (right).

By the way I was completely fooled earlier this week by a hoax of the journal the Telegraaf who showed this picture:


Real fanatics can install this Personas Firefox add-on to support your team and compete for the Firefox Cup.

Onion Sports presents an interactive visual guide for the new soccer fans, especially Americans 😉

Here is an updated results scheme for the world cup brand war. Since the brands do supply the goods to enhance natural talent and performance, this may be another way of predicting the outcome. Alas (again), the Dutch are sponsored by Nike, and the Spanish by Adidas. Adidas has won almost all matches till now (except against Holland once) (source:

And here: World Cup 2010 soccer stats as art (more of an infograph) with all kinds of details about the matches.

For some the main question may be: Will it (vuvuzuela) blend? See the answer on this video.

To keep it more in line with the content of this blog a wonderful comparison of Soccer & PhD * from PhD-Comics.

“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham

Finally some humorous twitter-quotes:

  1. Andy Lewis
    lecanardnoir So, as i said. Keep your vuvuzela for the Pope’s visit.
  2. Martin Fenner
    mfenner @elmarveerman Is there a role for vuvuzelas to make a statement about particularly bad presentations? #lnlm10
  3. Laika (Jacqueline)
    laikas RT @noahWG: Paul the octopus has been selecting which manuscripts go out for review at Nature for months now.
  4. Laika (Jacqueline)
    laikas RT @michlr: RT @LVenselaar: LOL! RT @Yoranv: Tip van de dag: OntSPANJE! haha
  5. keith grimaldi
    eurogene Maybe Science shld do same. Nice picture! @laikas: RT @noahWG: Paul the octopus selecting manuscripts 4 review at Nature for months now.

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Good luck boys. You will need it! 😉

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