Tag Archives: World Cup

Soccer 2.0

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Photo: The Offside

In Soccer 1.0 the manager is king. But an Israeli football team is experimenting with a sort of crowd-sourcing, wisdom-of-the-Kop type approach, where fans monitor the game online and suggest starting line-up, tactics and substitutions.

Reuters reports from Tel Aviv that “diehard football fan Moshe Hogeg was so upset when star striker Lionel Messi was left off Argentina’s side for a World Cup match against Germany last year that he teamed up with an online gaming company to buy a club where fans decide over the Internet who will play and in what position.” Hogeg’s company, an Israeli social network for sports fans called Web2sport, teamed up with online backgammon website Play65 to buy Hapoel Kiryat Shalom, a team in Israel’s third amateur division.

Fans log on to the team’s website and make suggestions and vote in poll which are monitored by an assistant to the coach. Ahead of the season’s opening match some 6,000 people tried to log on to make suggestions. The team lost 3-2 to Maccabi Ironi Or Yehuda in injury time.

Needless to say, I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t think crowd-sourcing is going to replace the genius of Wenger, Mourinho or Ferguson. On the other hand, as a Spurs fan, I certainly think manager Martin Jol could do with some help.

Press Release: The First Web 2.0 Football Club in the World

The World Cup Changes

Maybe it’s cos I don’t follow other sports as slowly, but this World Cup is beginning to feel like a media watershed in several different — and surprising — ways.

  • First off, the supply of World Cup footage to YouTube, and “live” commentary by cellphone from those in the stadium to those outside threatens to overturn the tight FIFA controls on coverage and sponsorship. FIFA stewards can stop people wearing clothing or carrying banners that don’t support the official sponsors, but they can’t keep people’s cellphones out of the stadium. Can they?
  • Secondly the best writing has come from blogs, not from the traditional sports pages of newspapers. But these aren’t pure bloggers, they’re journalists blogging for their newspapers’ or TV stations’ websites. The Guardian, for example, has a stable of writers who have been pushing out excellent blogs. My favorite BBC blogger on the World Cup is Paul Mason, who is actually a business correspondent for the Beeb’s flagship program Newsnight. Of course there are other soccer blogs, but these bloggers not only write well, they write regularly and attract interesting comments.
  • It’s not just about the rise of the bottom up. Some lucky cable subscribers are getting very cool new services, such as commentary in different languages to three or four different viewing perspectives. Sadly where I live we don’t get any of these, but I’ve heard they rock. These are good services to provide and it’s great to see some imaginative providers offering them. Soccer coverage has usually been woeful: Not enough long view of the pitch, so the viewer has no real sense of who is where on the pitch, while commentators offer very little extra value. Time to change.
  • Some widgets have made following the World Cup action easier, although they are still somewhat primitive.

I’m sure there are lots of non media bloggers out there, but the mainstream media seems to be finally getting it, and the World Cup is a perfect place and topic to do it. Everyone’s an expert in soccer, and no one is shy about offering an opinion. In some ways it’s a great leveler and a great showcase for participatory journalism.

Watching the World Cup on a Widget

Opera 9 is officially out today, so perhaps now is as good a time as any to offer some FIFA World Cup 2006 plugins:

For Firefox there’s

  • FootieFox, which has actually been around for a year or so. Nice and small, it displays any soccer scores (not just those of the World Cup) in your status bar, and even gives visual and acoustic notification when goals are scored. It also provides a customisable skin, according to your team of preference. Kick-off times in local time, world cup teams in local language:
    Footie1
  • Joga – a slightly fancier offering from Google and Nikefootball, Joga is community of soccer players dedicated to keep the game beautiful. It offers a sidebar that provides updated scores, as well as videos and “communities”:
    Joga1

Both expect you to know your country flags, which is probably no bad thing. (FootieFox’s comparison of the two extensions is here. Certainly FootieFox seems to be lighter and faster.

For Opera there are a couple of widgets:

  • Goal 06 which gives you a desktop window with access to all the usual information, plus photos etc. Seems a bit memory and CPU hungry. There’s a Mini version of this for your smart phone (just open your WAP browser and go to: http://mini.opera.com/goal/ and follow the instructions. The Goal 06 World Cup content is available in the site Bookmarked as “World Cup 06” in the Opera Mini home page.)
  • gCalendar World Cup edition which I must confess I didn’t really understand. Information with these widgets is minimal and barely intelligible. Grumble…

For Yahoo!, there’s a special Widget as well as some more basic (or out of date) ones. For Macs there’s a World Cup schedule widget which you can also get here. Microsoft has a Soccer Scoreboard, so long as you don’t mind validating your computer first.

For Google there’s a special news page module. There’s a collection of Klips if you’re into that. (Not quite as inspiring as I’d hoped; Klips, I thought, would be tailor made for the World Cup). For your Treo there’s the Football 2006 Manager, courtesy of Palm and TinyStocks (thanks, Mark), which is very cool but could be a lot cooler.

In fact, at the risk of sounding spoilt, none of these really jumped out at me. But if you’re working and can’t watch the games live, this might be a second best. Of course, there’s always the BBC website, which remains highly popular.

One Kid, A Tsunami, Nineteen Days At Sea, And A Soccer Match

This is nothing to do with technology, but it’s such a wonderful story I have to share it. Here’s how AP reported it:

Portugal welcomes a special fan: Indonesian tsunami survivor

LISBON, Portugal (AP): When Portugal walks onto the field Saturday to play Slovakia in a World Cup qualifying match, its captain will be holding the hand of a special guest – an 8-year- old Indonesian boy who survived alone for 19 days after the December tsunami.

Martunis, whose second name was not provided, was found on a beach in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, wearing a Portugal soccer shirt – prompting Portuguese soccer officials to invite him to Lisbon. Martunis survived by drinking puddle water and eating dried noodles after his parents were swept away by the tsunami. He was later reunited with his father and grandfather at a hospital.

Martunis, who names Manchester United’s Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, as his favorite player, met with local schoolchildren Wednesday. Portugal’s Brazilian coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, bought Martunis and family a house in Indonesia last year on behalf of the team.

Now, the Portugal soccer federation is giving them euro40,000 (US$49,000) . Martunis will hold the Portugal captain’s hand – likely to be Luis Figo if selected – when the two teams enter the 65,000-seat Stadium of Light arena for the Group 3 match.

He’s an amazing little kid. My friend Tessa related recently how

I had the pleasure of meeting the young lad at the recent launching of a book that [Radio] 68H has published – Lolos dari Maut Tsunami – containing his and other stories from people who survived the tsunami.

68H invited Martunis and his father (his mother and two sisters died in the tsunami) to Jakarta for the book launch. Like every other seven year old boy I have ever met, after about five minutes he was predictably fidgeting in his chair and looking around for better entertainment, all the while sporting his favourite shirt, a Portuguese number 10 football shirt, that of his hero, Rui Costa, the same shirt he was wearing when he was swept away.

If anyone’s interested, I have an English translation of his story from the book. It makes for an extraordinary read, even for those of us who have heard every kind of tsunami escape story.

Footnote: Here’s a picture of him. I haven’t cropped it cos I love the expensive sofa he’s sitting on:

Martunis

(Thanks Tessa)