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2 July 2010 ~


The BBC's World Cup bus has been filing a report every night, generally ending each Troubled South African History piece with the same visual punchline: South Africans smiling and singing (for a better future). There are surely other ways of showing local optimism – trade figures for the last financial year would do, or excerpts from the work of a promising young playwright. Perhaps if we get the World Cup in 2018, other countries will be ending their Broken Britain reports with standard uplifting footage of a English couple refitting their house with retro Scandinavian furniture bought at auction.

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Badge of the week
Inter Baku's badge used to have a football as the central image, a nice know-where-you-are, standard issue football for the eye to focus on and the brain to be comforted by. However, someone obviously decided that was a little too sporty and diverting so they changed the central image to a Clip Art star, probably because they felt the badge was not quite dull and anonymous enough. The whole affair now looks more pleasingly like the logo of a high street bank, the kind of bank that doesn't attract many savers and is long overdue both a rebranding and a national advertising campaign persuading the public that their staff are humorous people who can make a joke with your children. If this badge got any more dull it would be a road sign saying Basingstoke Ring Road (Ringway North), a sign which had to be taken down some years ago as drivers were falling asleep while reading it. Cameron Carter

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Tim Westwood has been providing a "unique take" on the World Cup. Note that he doesn't know how to spell "school" – and him a vicar's son.

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from Roy Cameron
"It occurs to me that the best South African performance at the World Cup was that of Desmond Tutu, whose appearance at the pre-tournament jamboree in the Orlando Stadium had, to channel Alan Hansen momentarily, pace, verve and pep. Strikingly turned out in the South Africa kit, with bobble hat, his demeanour was that of an unmonitored five-year-old in a ball pool. 'We’re all Africans!' he cried. And 'Africa is the cradle of humanity!' He then added a splendid piece of one-upmanship on Baddiel and Skinner with 'Humanity’s coming home!' They've got us there. We invented football. Africa invented people."

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Japan home, 1998
When Japan's new professional league started in 1993, the members wanted to create a splash with their logos and shirts, and as a consequence adopted a series of extremely bright – one might almost say garish – kit designs. The national team took a similar approach with a blue, white and red shirt made by a Japanese company, Asics, on what was an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. But four years later, as Japan won through to France 1998, the new national team shirt design seemed to reflect the development of football as a more mature presence on the country's sporting landscape.

Originally conceived by Adidas for the qualifying tournament, the previous asymmetrical approach to shirt graphics was abandoned for a classic dark blue with a far more discreet red, white and blue wave motif around each arm. By the time the World Cup finals rolled around Japan had returned to Asics, but the design worn in France was virtually identical aside from the addition of some low-key white trim. It was this shirt that became the team's calling card, as players such as Hidetoshi Nakata and Masashi Nakayama took Japanese football on to the global stage for the first time. Mike Innes

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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Chile's Waldo Ponce was one of the many Latin Americans at the World Cup who "nearly moved to Wigan". Pointing this out during the match with Spain, Clive Tyldesley said: "I'm not sure if a player with 'Ponce' on his shirt would go down well in the north west!" Of course if he'd been called "Tripe" or "Whippets" they'd have signed him.

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from Neil Bowes
"I almost admire FIFA's crafty pre-match plug for the Jabulani, having it placed on a podium to be plucked by the referee as the teams walk out. You hope that at least one official will take up a dare to do the rabbit ears behind the ball. Meanwhile, I'm thinking of setting up my breakfast in a similar way. Cereal bowl on a plinth of some kind, ready to be grabbed as I come through the kitchen door. Such a purposeful start to the day will surely make me more productive and indeed is precisely the type of innovation that will get this country back on its feet."

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from Mike Coyle
"What can be done to revive English football? I feel that we need to return to the days when ours was a slum game played in slum stadiums by slum people. All this endless fretwanking and ten-minute solos in Emirates stadiums, for God's sake. We should get back to playing matches behind roped-off factory pitches where you can spit at the players directly in the eye."

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Milovan Rajevac, Vojvodina Fudbaleri I Timovi 1979-80
Throughout Ghana's progress to the World Cup quarter-finals their lugubrious Serbian coach has not yet been seen to smile. The closest he came was during a quick burst of fist-pumping when they clinched qualification for the knockout stage but even then he looked more angry than pleased. Why does Milovan Rajevac seem so tightly buttoned up? A clue may lie in his playing career, the majority of which was spent with Borac Cacak. The small Serbian town was in the news when it became one of the centres of opposition to Slobodan Milosevic – Cacak provided the bulldozers that smashed through the doors of the Yugoslav parliament in the riots that brought down the regime in 2000.

But Cacak's football team has another claim to fame of a sort. No other club spent more seasons in the second division of the former Yugoslavia without winning promotion. Rajevac was a defensive linchpin with Borac's team of mid-table grinders for most of his career. He moved away a couple of times, for a short spell in the first division with Vojvodina and Red Star Belgrade, then a year with the New York Arrows in the US indoor league, where his first name was jazzed up a bit as "Mike". But he kept returning to the security of Borac – never bad enough to go down, but also denied the excitement of a promotion campaign. Safe, secure and a bit dull. Milovan has tried – mambo lessons, card tricks, novelty hats – but his spirits have failed to soar. There may be hope, though. It's been claimed that the corners of his mouth turned up slightly at a Ghana training session yesterday. He could be getting ready to blow.

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