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Football and Feminism? "No thanks!"

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Rajan Datar | 11:55 UK time, Friday, 4 June 2010

Too much football and feminism on the BBC World Service?

Those are accusations - from different Over To You listeners, I must stress - that we address in this weekend's typically eclectic edition of the programme.

The first of these protests is only going to increase in intensity, I suspect, over the course of the next few weeks.

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Who will you be cheering for? The World Cup starts on 11 June. Picture: Getty

Listener Simone Ubertino in Burundi thinks there is too much hysteria surrounding the World Cup - and he also points out that just because Africa is hosting a global sporting tournament, it doesn't mean the continent's other rather pressing problems will disappear.

Perfect timing, then, to announce a new spin-off from the World Have Your Say team, dedicated exclusively to - yup, you guessed it - the World Cup.

Actually producer Ben Sutherland can't be faulted for his enthusiasm - and for his reassurance that non-football lovers will be also be engaged by the daily show. 

Listen to the programme and see if what you think.

Me, well I have to confess, I don't need Ben's programme to get me excited about the forthcoming spectacle, but even I felt compelled to ask him whether, as nations drop out, there will still be the same level of global interest towards the end of the four week competition.

First ladies, feisty opinions

Meanwhile Veronique Edwards has been interviewing five "First Ladies" of Africa for a special insight into the lives and views of the wives of Presidents from Ghana, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda and Sierra Leone. They are an interesting cross-section: some politically involved, others dedicated professionals in the worlds of teaching and medicine.

But listener Kenneth from Maseru in Lesotho felt the interviews were bowing to feminism - an agenda he is clearly not keen on. Listen to Veronique's response on the programme.


Massive scoop

And this week the BBC got a scoop by interviewing President Ma of Taiwan on that country's delicate relationship with China - which incidentally doesn't recognise Taiwan as a country and, officially at least, still wants to annexe it to China, but seems to be quite happy to enter into a landmark free trade agreement with it later this month.

The question from us for the head of BBC Chinese, Raymond Li, who anchored the webcast in which listeners' questions were posed to the President: was there any thought of pulling punches or fearing reprisals from Beijing's twitchy censors, during what is, after all, a crucial period in negotiations between the two countries ?

And don't miss the first special contribution written for Over To You by World Service Writer-in-Residence, Hamid Ismailov.

It's about the relationship between the broadcaster and the audience - you'll have to listen to find out if it mentions football or feminism... A clue: he's currently in Africa, so one or other of those topics might well feature...

Rajan Datar is the Presenter, Over To You

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. It airs at 00:40, 03:40 and 12:40 every Sunday (GMT).

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