Thursday, January 21, 2010

World Cup

I am a football fan. Or as EP calls it - "soccer" fan. I find the term "soccer" too American-ise (if there's such a thing!). Afterall, "football" should rightly refer to a sport where the players primarily use their feet to play. As compared to the American football, which is a totally different animal altogether - there the players use their hands to catch and throw the ball, much more often than kicking it with their feet.


This is more about the upcoming "Football" (yeah, I insist!) World Cup, or more commonly known as the FIFA World Cup (FIFA being the global governing body/association for the sport). Football fans around the globe know this competition, even the non-fans are aware that every 4 years, their football-crazed husbands, friends, colleagues, etc.. all become midnight owls (and daytime zombies) over the few weeks when the matches are played and telecast live all over the world. It is one of the biggest sporting events, comparable to the Olympics. And since most of the big football nations are in Europe or South America, the World Cup of the past years have generally been hosted by these countries - which explains why Singaporeans become midnigth owls (and daytime zombies!). The only real exception was the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

Enough of history. Back to the present.

Here in Singapore, we've always assumed that an event as grand and as popular as the FIFA World Cup would be telecast live in our country. Afterall, we've heard so many boasts from our government and the telecommunication companies, about how "wired up" our country is; how technologically advanced our infrastructure is; how open our news/information flow is; generally - how we are supposedly a "First World" country. Apparently, when it comes to many things - sports and the arts included - we are still far far behind that of the so-called "Third World" nations.
With all high-speed wiring, internet penetration rate, highly-educated work-force, advanced infrastructure setup, blah blah blah- our people here may not even be able to watch a single match one of the biggest sporting competition in the world?!? Sounds a little ridiculous, doesn't it? Yet, it is a sad truth. According to our telcos, FIFA is demanding a "ransom" for the rights to telecast these live matches. Something in the region of $100 million.... Assuming that is true, it really makes me wonder how those supposedly poorer countries can afford to pay? Our neighbours Malaysia is apparently getting the matches (on their free-to-air channels no less! if that is to be believed...), how is it they could pay up this kind of money that our successful and rich telcos cant? Or unless they are able to convince FIFA to charge them less (which also points to incompetence on our part)?

Some Singaporeans have written to suggest we boycott this World Cup - as a sign of protest that we will not be held ransom by these greedy FIFA folks. Perhaps.

"No live matches, then watch delayed/highlights lor", some say.

"No World Cup, then no World Cup lor... wont die wat", others say.
Sure. But that's like saying to someone who loves eating steak (for example), to give up meat altogether and become a vegetarian. Or for others, it's like telling them to give up sex (ya, wont die wat! ). Huh!


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