World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

This blog is now closed

LONDON - Thanks to everyone who contributed to this blog, which is one of a number being trialled across the BBC.

Comments on this blog are now closed. But look out for other BBC Sport blogs - including our on-going editors' blog where you can discuss our coverage, and other forthcoming event blogs we will be running - for instance for the Ryder Cup and the Ashes.

Revealed - your player & team of the tournament

LONDON - The World Cup, all 64 games of it, has been and gone and everyone has had their say.

Including you.

We wanted a new way of rating players' performances, so we asked you to do the punditry.

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And you responded in your hundreds of thousands, giving marks out of 10 to every player in every game throughout the tournament.

As a result, we got to see who you rated as the best and worst players on the pitch at any given game.
We've now collated the information to find the player of the tournament - as voted by you.

You may be surprised by his name. And guess who was the worst? (Clue: he's English..)

Continue reading "Revealed - your player & team of the tournament"

What on earth do we do now??

LONDON - I asked one of the journalists who has been working on the football desk during the World Cup and who normally runs our games section, how he felt about the end of the sport's showpiece...

Got any suggestions to help him get over the void in his life?

By Chris Charles

Germany's footballing soap opera gripped us for 31 days.
Now it’s all over I'm left feeling like I've had a five-week fling with Kate Moss .... and been dumped for Bernard Manning.

Continue reading "What on earth do we do now??"

Formula that shows which countries are under-performing

LONDON - Academics at the Cass Business School in London have devised an alternative set of world rankings - and guess who is top?

Continue reading "Formula that shows which countries are under-performing"

Young Player result announced

LONDON - Those interested in yesterday's post regarding apparent attempts from various quarters to hijack Fifa's Young Player of the tournament award may want to check out today's announcement of the winner.

(Incidentally, Sean Ingle, writing on the Guardian blog today, makes some good points about what to do about the various disappointing aspects of this World Cup, including card-brandishing.)

Fifa have now also announced their Squad of the Tournament - John Terry is the only English player included. What do you make of it?


Vote for your goal of the tournament

LONDON - Time to vote for your goal of the tournament.


If you enter (by phone/text) there's a chance to win a signed England shirt and a behind-the-scenes tour of Match of the Day, and most of the money (70p+ out of £1) goes to Sport Relief.

Best young player of the World Cup?

LONDON - Cristiano Ronaldo - by all accounts the best player on the pitch in Wednesday's semi-final - was apparently leading in the vote on Fifa's website to find the Young Player of the Tournament.

He appears to have been overtaken by Luis Valencia, the Villarreal player from Ecuador, who England beat in the second round.

Something funny going on?

Continue reading "Best young player of the World Cup?"

Why England didn't deserve to win

LONDON - So, penalty heartbreak again. England missed more penalties on Saturday (three out of four) than Germany have missed in all four World Cup penalty shoot-outs in which they've been involved (one out of 18. Who & when was that miss? Answer later.)

What exactly is it England have done to upset the footballing Gods so? Or do fans need to front up to the fact that yet again, despite the hype, the team just weren't good enough. Here's one view. But do you agree?

By Ben Dirs, BBC Sport. This was a joyless World Cup. Joe Cole’s goal against Sweden apart, I can’t think of a single act by an England player that got the veins on my neck bulging or which led to beer raining down on me down the pub.

Continue reading "Why England didn't deserve to win"

Just one man's story

LONDON - Yesterday I asked 29-year-old Antje to blog about her thoughts on German patriotism, which by many accounts has been given unprecedented licence of expression by this World Cup.

Today I pass on the thoughts of someone from the older generation, who left Germany in 1939 and now lives in Costa Rica. I felt Alfred - a regular reader of this blog and now aged 75 - had an interesting story that deserved to be told.

Continue reading "Just one man's story"

Is it ok to wave the German flag?

claire_stocks2.gifLONDON - This blog has many German readers (and indeed readers from all over the world).

So bearing in mind how the country will be gripped for Friday's quarter-final against Argentina in Berlin, I thought it would be interesting to get a take on the issue of German patriotism, which has cropped up in quite a few of our blog debates.

I asked one reader, 29-year-old Antje - who was born in Rostock in the former East Germany but has lived in London for four years - for her thoughts on following her country.

Continue reading "Is it ok to wave the German flag?"

Team of the tournament - as rated by you

team_of_tournament2_203.gifLONDON - For the past two weeks many of you have been judging the performances of every team's World Cup players using our Player Rater.

Yesterday we had a look at how England's players measured up according to your ratings.

Today we've aggregated your votes to show which players have got the highest overall rating in each position, to make up the team of the tournament so far - check it out and tell me if you agree. We've also worked out the overall top 10 best and worst rated players...


Continue reading "Team of the tournament - as rated by you"

Win a table football signed by Sven

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LONDON - In conjunction with Sport Relief, we are offering a first prize of a table football signed by England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and Brazil legend Pele. All you have to do is to answer the following question:

Fletch and Ricco are driving from London Television Centre to Berlin's Olympiastadion for the World Cup final. If they were to drive directly (and they are not!), which of the following three distances is closest to the number of miles they would clock up?

a/ 650 miles
b/ 1000 miles
c/ 1650 miles

To enter just text "Blog" plus your choice of (a) (b) or (c) to 82125

Full competition rules here and best of luck. As a special bonus from Fletch and Ricco, we can now add two special runners-up prizes of signed Shevchenko T-shirts, among other goodies, into the prize pot.


Check out on video when Fletch met Sheva

Blog Editor, Claire S

Biased Chinese commentator apologises

LONDON - China Central Television commentator Huang Jianxiang, who I blogged about yesterday following his over-enthusiastic commentary on Italy's last-minute defeat of Australia, has apologised.
The Associated Press reported the following statement posted on CCTV's website: "In the last minutes of the Italy-Australia game, I added too much personal emotion to my comments. What I said led to the viewers' displeasure, and they have expressed their views and criticisms, and I sincerely apologise."

Anyway, you can re-live every second of his fantastically biased five-minute rant, I mean commentary, here. (Sorry if this is stating the obvious, but it's in Chinese..).
Claire S, blog editor

How BBC & ITV will split quarter-finals

LONDON - The BBC and ITV have agreed the division of games for the quarter finals. The games will be shown on TV in the UK as follows:

Friday 30 June
Germany v Argentina 1600 BST ko. ITV
Italy v Ukraine 2000 BST ko. BBC

Saturday 1 July
England v Portugal 1600 BST ko BBC
Brazil or Ghana v Spain or France 2000 BST ko ITV

The BBC games will also be streamed on broadband (UK only).
If England reach the semi-final stage, both BBC and ITV will show the game live, with ITV showing the remaining semi-final exclusively.
If England do not reach the semi-final stage, ITV will have first pick of the semi-final games, with BBC broadcasting the other match.
Both broadcasters will show the World Cup final live.
All games will be on Five Live, with the commentary streamed on this website (UK only)

Brazil v Ghana - on the mike

LONDON - The Black Stars may not seem to have much of a chance against Brazil (odds = 10-1).

But it's a more even contest in the music stakes - watch hip-hop rapscallion Sway (Ghana) take on beatboxsamba boys Instituto (Brasil) in this rap-off. The Ghanaians certainly do like to party. Our production manager Kofi was born there - and whipped a bongo out from under his desk for a spot of drumming after qualification was secure.

My soul is crumbling

claire_stocks2.gifLONDON - "My soul is crumbling," was how one Australian described the pain of their last-minute defeat to Italy on Radio Five Live.
To some England fans who have suffered decades of heartbreak, often also at the hand of perceived cheating, or penalties, or both, it may seem sweet justice that their Antipodean cousins get to drink from the same sour-tasting cup so early in their fledgling foray into football.
But you have to feel for them, don't you. Don't you..?

Continue reading "My soul is crumbling"

How England can turn it on

LONDON - Phil McNulty's post this morning on England divided opinion.
On a similar theme, Newsnight correspondent Paul Mason has some strong views on what the team need to do to fire on all cylinders.

What's the World Cup like where you are?

claire_stocks2.gifLONDON - Our blog has readers from all over the world, many of whom are forced to go to all sorts of lengths to watch the action.

There is Beaman in Berlin, The Gaffer in Florida, Wes in Melbourne (he's got Ashes tickets!), Working Nomad (an ex corporate slave trying to pay his way around the world via his blog), England fan in Barcelona and Super Si in Sydney (his wife left him after moving there two years ago apparently) to name but a few.

I asked Steve Ditchburn to tell us what it's like in Malta at the moment. If you would like to tell us about what it's like watching the World Cup where you are, get in touch by email or post a comment with a link to your blog.
Claire S, blog editor.

Continue reading "What's the World Cup like where you are?"

Snapping Rooney as he bursts through

Ross Kinnaird is a sports photographer covering the World Cup for Getty Images. He has been sharing some of his photos and the techniques behind them on our blog.

His latest guest entry shows Wayne Rooney muscling his way through the Ecuador defence.

Continue reading "Snapping Rooney as he bursts through"

How we get the footy fixtures to you

LONDON - I know this is the World Cup blog but it's also a notable day for domestic football in that all next season's fixtures were published.

I asked Mark Mitchener, one of the stalwarts of our team of football journalists here in London, to blog about what it takes to get them to you.

To outside observers, the fixtures may seem to appear magically at the appointed hour of 1000 BST on the BBC Sport website and on Ceefax - but the preceding hours are a hive of activity here at BBC Sport Interactive Towers (inside Television Centre in London's White City district).
We are sent the fixtures under strict embargo from the Press Association (PA), around an hour and a half before the publication time, so we can get them ready for 10am. Luckily, we made it - just!

Continue reading "How we get the footy fixtures to you"

Knockout games on BBC

LONDON - We have agreed with ITV which of the knockout games will be shown on which TV channel:

Continue reading "Knockout games on BBC"

Where will you be watching?

LONDON - Joe and his friends have been blogging about their attempts to watch every single World Cup game - and as many as possible in a bar supporting one of the nationalities playing. Their trip to London's Dean Street last night is a sorry tale of disappointment of which all landlords should take note.

Mark, who had the same idea, had more luck in a Sikh pub Southall.

England's 4pm match against Ecuador on Sunday promises to bring bumper takings for the country's pubs.

Continue reading "Where will you be watching?"

Goooooal!

Here's the latest picture post from our guest contributor, sports photographer Ross Kinnaird of Getty Images, who got a great snap of the second Sweden goal last night - red shirts woefully absent!

What makes a good goal picture? For me it's a bit like making a omelette. Eggs, cheese, onion and a little chilli. My perfect omelette! It's the same for a goal picture - there are four main ingredients and when you put them all together you have the "perfect" goal picture (not necessarily the perfect picture).
So, take:

Continue reading "Goooooal!"

Which knockout games will be on the BBC?

We've had a few questions about our coverage going into the knockout phase of the tournament.
So I've got this from the boss, Roger, this morning:

All of England's remaining games are guaranteed to be on BBC television, radio and broadband. In terms of the TV split with ITV: we have the Ecuador game and any England quarter-final to ourselves. An England semi-final or (getting carried away) final would be shown by both of us. We can stream on broadband all BBC TV games - and Five Live has, of course, got the lot. As for all the remaining non-England games in the second round - we don't yet know which will be on the BBC and which will be on ITV - but hope to soon and will let you know when we can.

We'll update our schedule page with the details when we have them.
Claire S, blog editor.

Eye witness account of Cologne skirmish

Joe is a student who has travelled to Cologne for the World Cup and is writing about his experiences on one of the blogs we've been linking to. He was caught up in the trouble last night. Here's an extract:

The riot police ran 20 yards towards the English and were relentless in their clubbing. As I ran out of the way the cover to my phone fell off. After only perhaps 30 seconds of chasing that wave finished. I was recording the events on my phone alongside a Croation news team. Then the police came back in a wave and a riot policeman knocked my to the floor as I searched for my mobile phone cover.

That was the best golfer ever

LONDON - A colleague had the luxury of watching the first half of the Argentina game in a London pub, where they had subtitles on the telly (it was full of old blokes). Chris writes:

Not that I want to have a laugh at the BBC's expense, but there were some absolute classics. Being an old school journalist, I happened to have pen and paper on me and took them down....

Continue reading "That was the best golfer ever"

When Rooney took his World Cup bow

LONDON - Here's the latest entry from our guest blogger, Ross Kinnaird, the Getty Images sports photographer whose last entry created a bit of a debate on the merits, or otherwise, of digitially manipulating images.

His latest snap shows Sven-Goran Eriksson briefing Wayne Rooney as he prepares to make his first appearance versus Trinidad & Tobago.

Continue reading "When Rooney took his World Cup bow"

Bloggers on the block

LONDON - You won't know this yet, but we've set up a friendly prediction league between our bloggers.

There are no prizes. There are no forfeits, just pride among sport journalists. And lot's of it.

We've used Five Live's Challenge Lawro (you know that Mark Lawrenson chap from the TV) to get our league going and the early front runners were Five Live's very own Nigel Adderley and a certain blog editor.

Perhaps more importantly, Fletch is well ahead of Ricco so things could turn nasty in their mobile home Svan. Check out the latest standings here.

Alex T, blog editor

Spanish serenade

Afternoon folks,
Hope you're all enjoying the blog today - I've had a call from Nigel Adderley who is mortified to think anyone reading his blog entry about the Spain Ukraine match last night mistook his comments about Andriy Shevchenko..

Continue reading "Spanish serenade"

How to spot a fake ticket

LONDON - If you are on the lookout for England tickets - check this out before you buy.


How to get a head (shot)

In his latest guest post, Getty Images photographer Ross Kinnaird reveals how he tries to liven up stock media conferences with a more creative approach.

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I’ve been attending quite a few press conferences and training sessions in the build-up to the next England match tomorrow (Thursday) and this image is just one of many I’ve been having some fun with – capturing static head shots can be quite soul-numbing for a sports photographer after a few days so I always like to experiment!
It took me four or five attempts to get this effect, using a 70 - 200 mm lens, shot at a 15th of a second F8 (no flash allowed at the conference). My biggest challenge was to get the camera to swivel on a central and static point. Any lateral movements blur the whole image.

Welsh supporting England or Trinidad?

LONDON - The BBC's North East Wales website is running a debate on whether locals should be supporting England - by virtue of Michael Owen's roots, or Trinidad & Tobago because of 6ft 7in defender Dennis Lawrence, a cult figure with Wrexham FC.

Owen Hargreaves, the Canadian-born Germany-residing England player, gets a lot of stick. I watched him address the media conference this morning and he was very forthright, admitting he's been surprised by the negative reaction. Expect to see his "England fans have not seen the best of me yet," plea making headlines in the tabloids tomorrow.

On the spot for the own-goal

Here's the latest contribution from Ross Kinnaird, the Getty Images photographer who is following the England team and was covering the Paraguay game in Frankfurt.

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It might look as if I was just sitting behind the net but Fifa don't like a dozen or more photographers cluttering up their goal mouths so I was working – honest! We all had to wear our nice green bibs and sit patiently behind the ad boards waiting for the action to begin. Behind the net, I positioned a Canon EOS-1 Mark II camera with a 16-35mm zoom lens, mounted on a mini-tripod. It was triggered by a radio transmitter which went off when I shot the action in and around the penalty area. I set it up just after the teams had finished their warm-up - you don't need £4,500 worth of camera equipment to be used for shooting practice. Once it was all in place I just waited for the ball, keeper and a few players to do their thing – or score an own-goal in this instance!

Saturday snippets

LONDON - Good news for BBC South East's Rob Smith, who is finally on his way to Germany (and should have arrived by now).

Smith, familiar to those in Kent, Surrey & Sussex as a presenter on TV show South East Today, is travelling in a genuine VW camper (unlike Fletch and Ricco who have a big ugly white box thing) - though it appears to have let him down.

Continue reading "Saturday snippets"

Win table football signed by Sven (and Pele)!

svensigns203.jpgSo our dynamic duo (Fletch and Ricco) are already having adventures in their camper van and to celebrate the big K.O. we can announce a fantastic competition.

In conjunction with Sport Relief, we are offering a first prize of a table football signed by England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and Brazil legend Pele. All you have to do is to answer the following question:

Fletch and Ricco are driving from London Television Centre to Berlin's Olympiastadion for the World Cup final. If they were to drive directly (and they are not!), which of the following three distances is closest to the number of miles they would clock up?

a/ 650 miles
b/ 1000 miles
c/ 1650 miles

To enter just text "Blog" plus your choice of (a) (b) or (c) to 82125

Full competition rules here and best of luck.

As a special bonus from Fletch and Ricco, we can now add two special runners-up prizes of signed Shevchenko t-shirts into the prize pot.


Check out on video when Fletch met Sheva

Blog Editor, Alex T.

Photographing Beckham

Here's another snippet from Ross Kinnaird, the Getty Images photographer who is following the England team.

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Beckham warms up during training on 7 June, 2006 in Baden-Baden, Germany.
(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)



Beckham is once again the focus of the photographic brigade. I had to be quick shooting him warming up. It's a full turnout by the media again who are all kept a good distance from 'the action'.
I squeeze a 400mm lens in amongst the pack to pick Beckham out of the crowd. The light is good.
Roll on Saturday when the real fun starts with action goals and lots of Rooney and Sven on the sidelines.

World Cup round up

LONDON - After pleas from some of you to give it a rest on Wayne Rooney, I pledged to bring you some insight into what the rest of the 31 teams have been stressing over.

So here's a little round-up of recent news and mood in the camps, some of which come from some of the BBC News correspondents around the world (and check out our form guide for an overview).
Claire S - blog editor

Continue reading "World Cup round up"

Sven hits back in Rooney row

LONDON - Update from my earlier post regarding Manchester United possibly having a say in Wayne Rooney's participation..
Sven-Goran Eriksson did not mince words at his 11am (BST) media conference.

In one of his most outspoken moments so far, Eriksson stated categorically: "Wayne Rooney is injury free. It's up to us to get him match fit now."
He said he was prepared to "take in any specialist we want to take in, or Manchester United want us to take in", but insisted that "the last say on this situation is Rooney's and mine".

In words uncharacteristically passionate, Sven signed off: "I am doing this in the best interests of Rooney, the England team and 40m England fans."

Claire S - blog editor

Is there a deal on Rooney?

LONDON - So, are Manchester United happy about Wayne Rooney getting the all clear to play (some part) in the World Cup? Make your own mind up.
The news broke around midnight last night. The club put out this statement on its website:

Manchester United can confirm that Wayne Rooney has rejoined the England squad in Germany following his scan in Manchester.
He is now in the care of the England medical team. The expert independent medical view is that Wayne has a good chance of being fit after the group stage.
At that point, the expert independent medical view is that his participation in the tournament will require very careful assessment in order to address his suitability, as he will not have had the opportunity to play in less demanding games.

Five Live correspondent Mike Ingham, who was in the hotel reception when Rooney returned and heard him declare 'The Big Man's Back in Town', is among many journalists pointing to the not entirely enthusiastic phrasing as proof United are not entirely happy their £30m investment is back in Germany.

Continue reading "Is there a deal on Rooney?"

Picture this

Ross Kinnaird, the photographer with Getty Images who is following the England camp, sadly wasn't the chap who got the snap of Wayne Rooney's scissor kick that adorned every back/front page on Tuesday. But I asked Ross for his thoughts on the photo that made a lot of money for someone:

Developments in today’s lenses and camera equipment make taking action shots like these a lot easier if you’re focused on one player for a substantial amount of time. Rooney is undoubtedly at the centre of all the attention at the moment, so the question is not how long it takes to get mid-air shots like this, but more about how long you dare to take the camera off Rooney to shoot enough of the action from the other players in the squad. It can be tricky to juggle!

Ross also had some answers to questions about his Ronaldo picture.

I shot the Ronaldo picture in 1998 with a 400ml lens, at a 15th of a second with an aperture of about F11. The one difference that made this picture so different was that I actually shot it on film. I used up three or four films on Ronaldo alone to get the right image - after processing there were only about three images that were suitable for printing. With digital it’s more about trial and error to get the right shot because the image is naturally accessible immediately.

Ross says if he had to give one top tip on making it as a sports photographer, it would be to "think for yourself and definitely don’t be afraid to be that little bit different and go against ‘the pack’ occasionally. The Ronaldo shot is a perfect example."

On Rooney watch

LONDON - Here's what happened with Wayne Rooney -- arrived for scan at 1200 BST-ish, stayed for 25 minutes, then left Whalley Range in a fast car, last seen heading "towards the M6".

----- UPDATE: 1730 BST: Rooney is back in hospital in Manchester - to get the results of his scan? He spent the afternoon at the house of his girlfriend's parents in Croxteth, Liverpool. --------

Some say the results are expected this evening - but we've heard other reports saying they might not be out until tomorrow. There is one blog already claiming to know the results..

Whatever you read, it's one of those news stories where no-one really knows.

"The scanning room is in between the ladies and gents toilets," is the kind of desperate-for-something-to-say detail we've been getting on the wall-to-wall BBC News 24 coverage.

From early on Wednesday, the hospital was besieged by journalists and photographers - all looking for the definitive snap of him with a 'good news' grin on his face.

It's also probably the reason there is no media conference in Germany today, to prevent anyone asking questions.

Continue reading "On Rooney watch"

Practising penalties!

LONDON - Some snippets from the England camp this morning:
Wayne Rooney trained on his own after whipping the nation into a frenzy of excitement with that picture of him scissor-kicking his way seemingly back to full fitness.

He had a nice soft landing on the pitch - newly laid with turf brought in especially from Holland, from the same batch that was used for the pitch at the stadium in Frankfurt where England play their first game on Saturday.

(Incidentally, which camp are you in? - Paraguay; best player injured, never past the second round = three points, no problem. Or Paraguay; finished third in South American qualifying, we've only won one of our first World Cup games in the last 20 years (2002 Sweden 1-1, 1998 Tunisia 0-2, 1994 DNQ, 1990 Ireland 1-1, 1986 Portugal 1-0) = tricky, very tricky.)

The squad played a small-sided game split into Oldies v Youngsters. It was a draw - the Oldies winning in a sudden-death penalty shootout (keep practising fellas!).

Continue reading "Practising penalties!"

Four days to go

LONDON - Lots of you were happy to hear about our deal to stream the World Cup on broadband, though the main gripe appears to be 'why can't I watch overseas'.

(To repeat: 1. Fifa won't let us. 2. It would cost too much even if they did 3. It's not our money, it comes from UK licence-fee payers)

For those of you living in the States (who seem most disappointed by the UK-only restrictions) there is a good debate running on the New York Times blog on how to watch/listen.

While we of course will be doing it legally, it seems the lawyers are getting heavy with those out there who aren't.

With this World Cup set to be possibly the most watched TV event ever, they'll have their hands full. With only 15 of the games in office hours..

Continue reading "Four days to go"

Behind the lens

LONDON - We have a number of regular blog authors, who are listed with their biographies on the right-hand side. But we will also be having the odd 'now and then' contribution from a few other people, one of whom is Ross Kinnaird, a sports photographer with Getty Images.

Ross has worked for Getty Images for 10 years and this will be his fourth World Cup. His role in Germany will be to follow the England team, so we thought it would be interesting to get some insight from him. For his first post I asked him to pick out his favourite World Cup photo - and here it is, taken at France 1998, with his explanation. If you any questions for Ross, leave them here.

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Football…Brazil…Ronaldo - it doesn’t get any better, especially if you’re a sports photographer covering the World Cup finals. Taking pictures of the best footballers in the world and seeing them in print is a massive buzz. You're so close to the action you can hear a metatarsal crack. All my mates want to swap places with me! This Ronaldo picture shows power and speed in an arty kind of way. Shooting from the stands allows you to see shapes and patterns set against the green grass. I wanted to capture him running from left to right because it looks better in print. To get the shot spot on, I wanted Ronaldo on his own (he’s always tightly marked and not always in the action) so I needed to concentrate on more than just watching the game. It's all worth the effort when it comes off though! ---- Ross Kinnaird

World Cup on BBC broadband

LONDON - We've announced that we will be broadcasting the World Cup on broadband within the UK.
Every BBC game will be live via www.bbc.co.uk/worldcup. In addition there'll be online video highlights of every match.
UPDATE: I have written an FAQ page answering many of the questions raised here, and on our editors' blog.
Claire S - blog editor

Send us your flag photos

LONDON - It's been a bit like the arrival of spring.
You know; the first daffodil, the first gambolling lamb; the first England flag fluttering on a builder's van.

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Now, with temperatures finally warming up on 1st of June, the flag fest is in full flow. Do they bring your heart to a warm patriotic glow? Or do they make you - a true fan - despair of the main eventers who, in the words of my colleague Mark Fleming (one of the guys who runs the football news desk and never one to mince words..), wouldn't know their "Clock End from their Big Match".

I've already experienced one World Cup Willy. He told me: 'If we don't win it this year, I reckon we'll have a chance next year but only if England sort out their left-hand side problem'. I despair!

My dad (a golf and cricket fan) hates the flag wavers and emailed me a rubbish joke about a new DVLA law that says rubbish drivers had to attach a flag to their car. Really rubbish drivers have to attach two...

Anyway, send in your pics of flags, especially those in unusual places or of non-England flags. The one attached was taken on a farm building on the outskirts of Sunbury-on-Thames. Incidentally, we will be encouraging people to send in their photos throughout the World Cup so here's your chance to start practising.
Claire S - blog editor

Apologies

LONDON - Apologies for problems we had on the blog last night.
Our seemingly inoffensive post regarding Trinidad & Tobago shirts kicked off a somewhat foul-mouthed Scottish/English verbal war and we consequently turned off comments on that post.

Apologies to anyone who found some of the comments offensive and apologies to those (many) of you who had genuine things to say which got deleted in the crossfire.

The blog is currently "reactively moderated". Which means a comment appears automatically unless someone complains about it, in which case it will be removed if the complaint is upheld.

We would like to carry on relying on readers to complain before we take action as comments appear quicker and it's a more open form of communication after all. But it maybe that is not possible. We will monitor the situation. Thoughts?

Crouch-bot

claire_stocks.gifLONDON - Photos of Peter Crouch's 80s robot dance are here.
Anfield Red has one better and has video of Crouch in action on the dance floor. Check out the footage of him on the mike too.
But if you want to see how the robot should be done don't miss this.
Wait for the boy in the orange sweater, seriously unbelievable!
Claire S - blog editor

You are my obsession

LONDON - As someone who sometimes thinks they might suffer from mild OCD tendencies (great doc on Radio 4's You and Yours on Monday) , one thing I love about football is how it makes it ok to be obsessive.

So, come on, let's hear your tales of obsession & football...giant_balls203.jpg


Here's a couple to get you started: Mark Poole is Scottish but that hasn't stopped him getting into the spirit of things (incidentally, our boss Roger Mosey is talking about the difficulties of being the British Broadcasting Corporation when only England are in the World Cup on our editor's blog).

Mark plans to find a pub in London that is home to each of the 32 teams competing in the World Cup and watch each game there As he puts it:

I thought Portugal, Poland and Brazil would be easy, but does London have an Angolan community? What about Paraguay? And what sort of venue would Saudis choose to watch the game? Mind you, given my congested fixture list, any break from alcohol would prove very welcome.

But Mark's fixation is surpassed by Gman writing at My Sofa World Cup....

Continue reading "You are my obsession"

Some Friday afternoon entertainment

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LONDON - I’m usually the last to know about stuff so apologies if you have seen this before but hats off to these guys at Manchester Metropolitan University for this video spoof on the Nike football ad.
Did they really fail all their exams as a result? Anyone know any more about them? Perhaps they should enter our very own keepy-uppy competition? Guys - get in touch!

Anyway, thanks for letting me know about your blogs – keep ‘em coming. I’m adding the best to our blog roll.
It’s not about the World Cup, or even sport, or anything really so why did this make me giggle?

If you're going to Germany you may want to get in touch with this merry band of bloggers...
Sadly, we've had to turn down volunteers to join our camper van crew, Fletch and Ricco.
But you can apply to join this lot hanging out in a free flat in Berlin apparently...

Continue reading "Some Friday afternoon entertainment"

Ominous words

ronaldinho203.jpgLONDON - "Now my focus is on the World Cup. . ." These are the ominous words of the world's greatest footballer Ronaldinho, who refuses to bask in the glory of Barcelona's Champions League triumph in his latest blog entry.

A timely reminder, that whether Wayne Rooney is declared fit or not on Thursday, England will probably have to go through Brazil and Ronaldinho to win football's greatest prize.

The defending champs will be training in Switzerland. England are just back from Portugal. So where are the rest of the World Cup teams limbering up? Let us know if you have any inside information - perhaps they are training in your home town.

Alex Trickett, Blog Editor

In answer to your questions. . .

bbcsport_logo.gifLONDON - Nick raised some questions in reply to Ricco's latest entry and I have been in touch with Roger Mosey, director of BBC Sport, to get some answers.

Why do you have Ian Wright as part of your television coverage for the World Cup?

RM: All pundits divide opinion - and they have fans and critics. We believe Ian Wright brings a fresh and different point-of-view to our panels, and he's a good part of the mix.

Why does the BBC feel the need to take 300 people to Germany for the World Cup?

RM: The World Cup will be the BBC's biggest outside broadcast of the year - and it will be covered extensively on television, radio and online as well as by our news services at home and abroad. To do this properly, we need the appropriate number of staff in Germany. But on these kind of major events our staffing levels compare favourably with other international broadcasters, and our priority is delivering quality to our audiences.

Will the total cost of the BBC's World Cup coverage be published?

Continue reading "In answer to your questions. . ."

Your blogs

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A lot of you are already telling us about your blogs which is great and I'm enjoying reading them all.
There is some video of Theo Walcott training here, and two mad fans (an Englishman and a Scot) hosting a daily free fans podcast here .
Phil McThomas, 35 (Middlesbrough fan) and Tony Wildey, 31 (Hearts) say they have an insatiable appetite for football and conceived the idea "in the middle of a rant about the dearth of soccer podcasts".
The favourite thing I've come across is a list of World Cup rules for the fridge on a blog run by a chap called Ian living in Barcelona. It is wildly sexist - but hilarious of course. My favourite is Rule 3:

Continue reading "Your blogs"

Top marks for trying

LONDON - An early contender for 'top World Cup chancer' is a reader of this blog who made the offer below. Sadly we turned him down, not least because of the miles of BBC red tape that would have been involved. But we like his style!

"I'm a freelance football writer but unfortunately was unsuccessful in my attempt to get accreditation for the World Cup (but like the Murphys I'm not bitter).

Anyway, I was wondering if there was any space on the camper van (sorry, motor home) for one more?

I could bring an interesting dimension to the trip given that my country is a footballing non-entity (though Walter's turning things around slowly) and the 'Auld Enemy', England, have a very real chance of winning football's greatest prize.
I'd love to hear from you, all the best
PS: If you agree to this, I promise to do all the cooking for the duration of the trip...and the washing up. I'm sure the boys on the van would appreciate this. Shall I pack my bags then? Or would you like to see some of my work first"

Nice try!
Claire S - blog editor

Welcome to our World Cup blog

bbcsport_logo.gifLONDON - Welcome to BBC Sport's World Cup Blog. Over the next eight weeks, this is where our team of reporters will share all the colour, gossip, anecdotes and emotion of the biggest sporting event in the world.

At the heart of the blog are Fletch and Ricco. We'll roll out the red carpet for their camper van as it trundles out of Television Centre on 7 June bound for Germany. Our dynamic duo have only the roughest of schedules laid out and will fill up their days and nights by acting on your suggestions, tip-offs and questions. Their aim is to be your eyes and ears in Germany, so send in your ideas - left to their own devices they are likely to end up in beer tents and bratwurst parlours...

Fletch and Ricco will be ably assisted by a strong cast of writers from across the BBC, including Match of the Day reporter Celina Hinchcliffe and Five Live correspondent Nigel Adderley. For the first time, they'll be revealing exactly how we bring a World Cup to your televisions, radios, computers, mobiles etc. For a full list of contributors check this link.

But it's not just about our staff in Germany. We're also keen to hear about and link out to the best of your World Cup blogs, so please draw our attention to them by commenting below.

This blog is all about creating a dialogue between you and our bloggers, so please feel free to offer your thoughts at any time. And have a look at our guidelines and house rules.

That's it - my fellow Blog Editors (Claire Stocks and Bridget Chandler) and I will pitch in from time to time with further guidance or help. But in the meantime, happy blogging!
Alex Trickett, blog editor.

About the authors

Paul Fletcher (Fletch):

paul_fletcher.gifI’m a football writer for the BBC website and will be blogging my way around Germany with my co-pilot Martin Richardson (Ricco).

We are very keen to hear your ideas as to what you would like us to do during the tournament, though anything involving lederhosen will be instantly rejected (unless Martin has to wear them).

I follow Preston North End and firmly believe Sir Tom Finney to be the greatest player ever to walk the earth (despite the fact he retired 13 years before I was born). England cricketer Andrew Flintoff once failed to hit me off the square during a junior cricket match, though at 13 he was four years younger than me.

Since moving to London I have been developing my skills as a professional northerner, extolling the virtues of more or less anything from the twin Kingdoms of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

That said, I very much enjoy trying to broaden my horizons through travel and look forward to finding out just how good Martin actually is at speaking German during the World Cup.

Martin Richardson (Ricco):

martin_richardson.gifI work with the multimedia team of the BBC Sport website, providing on-demand videos and live broadcasts for all the sports under the sun, from the Premiership to the Winter Olympics snowboard cross and have been spending my time recently wading through the BBC archives for our World Cup pages.

I came to the BBC via stints in Germany and France and am more than looking forward to returning to the Motherland this summer alongside Paul Fletcher (Fletch) in a camper van built for two, well three actually - with generous disabled access.

But Germany's a big place and we'll be asking for your help to guide us along the way - we want to be the eyes and ears, and most importantly wheels, of all those fans watching on from afar.

I love playing sport and I'll give anything a go as long as it involves a stick or a ball, especially golf and football. When I'm not doing that I suffer from unhealthy obsessions with video games, Deal or No Deal and Girls Aloud.

I expect my biggest challenges during the World Cup will be lasting five weeks in a cosy camper van with a self-confessed professional northerner, and not gorging myself on endless Currywursts - "Mmmmm, lecker" as they might say in Munich.

Nigel Adderley:

nigel_adderley.gifDespite the photo I'm only 34 and this is my first World Cup as a commentator which is very exciting. I was bracing myself for a steady diet of hammerings for Saudi Arabia and Togo so finding out I was doing Brazil's first match in Berlin was a very pleasant surprise!

I think the experience will be very different to South Korea four years ago where I was one of Five Live's reporters. We were swept along on a red tide of emotion and due to the time difference, could stay out all night, sleep until mid-afternoon and still be around to appear on Breakfast. It's taken me until now to lose the weight I piled on eating Korean barbeques at five am.

I've already been to the African Cup of Nations in Egypt this year and assume this tournament won't be the organisational shambles that was. It did allow me to see the five African teams heading to Germany and to be honest Ghana, Togo, Angola and Tunisia didn't really perform at all. But Ivory Coast are the sort of dour, well organised team who could do well. My prediction is they will knock out either Holland or Argentina and reach round two - thoughts?

Away from the job, most time is spent on entertaining my daughter Daisy and cooking from the Nigel Slater book I got for Christmas. Miscellaneous dislikes : smoking, bad manners. Who would I most like to meet : Rod Stewart or The Pope. Best friend in football : I like to think I have many. Thank you.

Paul Atherton:

paul_atherton.gifI work for Match of the Day, Football Focus and Score, running the programme websites and liaising between the television and online teams.

I joined the BBC Sport website five years ago after completing a post-graduate degree in online journalism, initially on the multimedia team (which is responsible for the audio and video on the site), then on the news desk. I've been working with the TV football team for about three years.

I'll be based at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Munich during the World Cup, working alongside the TV production team. I'll attempt to explain exactly what goes on there during my posts (in other words, I'm not quite sure myself!).

Outside of work, you may be surprised to hear football is my number one interest. Manchester United are my team (although I'm from Bolton - there goes my credibility). And my sporting claim to fame is being offered and turning down a trial with PSV when I was 12, but no one seems to believe me.

My ambitions? To finish the season as Man Utd's top goalscorer. That's it.

James Bridgeman:

james_bridgeman.gifI'll be out in Germany as Radio Five Live's Interactive producer - so I'll be trying to give you the inside track on what it's like covering a World Cup with the UK's biggest news and sport radio station.

For those of you who read the words "interactive producer" and immediately look puzzled, here's what it means: I'll be going behind the scenes with the presenters out there - in particular, Nicky Campbell for Breakfast and Victoria Derbyshire in the mid-mornings, with photos, diaries, video diaries and more.

I'm also going to produce our daily World Cup podcast, presented by Simon Mayo, featuring the best of our audio from Germany each day.

Personally, it'll be my first time covering a World Cup, so I'll be doing my best to keep calm and impartial. Honest. And if you've ever had any burning questions about what goes on out there, I'll try to get you some answers.

Tom Geoghegan:

tom_geoghegan.gifI'm a news journalist who will be following England fans during the group stages of the tournament.

My features will be metatarsal-free, you may be relieved to hear, focusing instead on the experiences and passions of England's extraordinary support, which could number 100,000.

So I'll be steering clear of matters on the pitch. After all, what does a Crystal Palace supporter know about football anyway?

The World Cup also coincides with my retirement from competitive football after 25 years, latterly at the Norbury Powerleague in south London. But please, no fuss - let Alan Shearer have his moment.

Claire Heald:

claire_heald66.gifIt'll be a struggle to tear myself away from watching the World Cup on TV with friends. But it's in a good cause - to trail the thousands of fans following England around Germany.

I work on the UK desk of the BBC News website so my usual domain is news. But my all-round sporting knowledge has improved a lot since a (long-ago) trip to the Oval, when friends convinced me Andrew Flintoff was Freddie's identical twin brother.

Not a team player - is it a crime to admit that at work? - my sports are running and cycling. By the time I've covered my desk in bike bits and running gear, it can look like the office is something I fit in between my daily endorphin kicks.

During a spell living and working in Australia, a highlight was covering the Olympic Games and I saw how sport and a worldwide event can transform a country.

Celina Hinchcliffe:

celina_hinchcliffe2.gifI have worked for the BBC for five years, starting as a reporter at BBC Southern Counties. If you told me back then when I was reporting on Crawley Town that I'd be going to the World Cup, I'd have probably keeled over at the Broadfield Stadium.

Football is my passion in life, Sheffield Wednesday my team. So while all of my school mates had pictures of New Kids on the Block and River Phoenix stuck on their leverarch files, I proudly sported a laminated photo of my footballing hero Chris Waddle.

While over in Germany, I'll be on the road presenting from the host cities for the BBC TV's highlights programme. I'd love to hear from readers about what entertaining things are happening in these cities, where to go and what the fans are up to.

It's not just watching football that I'm passionate about - I love playing footy, golf, tennis and skiing.

Phil McNulty:

phil_mcnulty.gifI have been chief football writer for the BBC Sport website for six years, covering the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Euro 2004 in Portugal, and I will be following England again in Germany.

I was born in Liverpool and had previously worked for local and national newspapers, covering the contrasting fortunes of Everton and Liverpool - and with a long enough memory to recall when both were champions and Chelsea were a mere twinkle in Roman Abramovich's eye.

I'll be based in Baden Baden - although not at the fortress that will be England's team hotel - and I'll bring you daily insight on how England's campaign is developing and the mood in the camp.

The height of my football career was "starring" in a Press v Wales match at what is now the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, sharing a pitch (if not the ball) with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Gary Speed and Neville Southall. It's been all downhill since then.

I'm led to believe "Posh" Spice is also staying at my hotel, so there may be gossip for the entertainment pages as well.

Matthew Roberts:

matthew_roberts.gifI'm an Assistant Producer working for BBC TV Sport. I used to work as a journalist for BBC News and, before that, ITV News.

In Germany, I'm looking after one of our roving TV teams as we travel to various locations doing reports on different teams ahead of their matches, as well as going to matches to do interviews and filming for World Cup Match of the Day. There'll be four of us working as part of the team. Ivan Gaskell is the reporter (henceforth known as Gaskers), Cameraman Sean Twamley (Twammers) and picture editor Paul Hagan (you guessed it - Hagers).

We're going to be based in Cologne, in the West. There are 3 World Cup Stadiums in quite a small area (Cologne, Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen) and a lot of teams staying in the area, so we're going to be working flat out (we're already arguing about the driving) and stretching my GCSE German well beyond breaking point.

Personally, I can't wait for the tournament to start. Previous World Cup highlights have included being thrown into a hedge after a misunderstanding (!) with a Japanese satellite engineer, trying to film 5m Korean football fans partying in the streets of Seoul and sharing the breakfast buffet with Nancy Dell'Olio.

A cracking summer awaits. . .

Mandeep Sanghera:

mandeep_sanghera.gifI’m one of the football writers on the website and I’m basically doing what amounts to my dream job. I'll be reporting from some of the biggest non-England matches in Germany.

I was captivated by football during Espana '82 and have been in love with it since.

I got my break in the profession while at university and then had the privilege of working for The Daily Telegraph as a freelance journalist and then could not say no when I had the chance to fulfil one of my lifetime ambitions to work for the BBC.

I did a post-graduate degree in broadcast journalism as well and, although I'm sure you're probably nodding off by now, we have to do this to give you a little insight into ourselves.

My mum and dad will probably be the only ones enjoying it but I promise I'll try and keep you a lot more interested with my tales as I travel around Germany covering the World Cup.

Laura Smith-Spark:

laura_smithspark.gifHi, I'm Laura and I'm more usually found writing for the BBC News website's world desk. I arrived at the BBC three-and-a-half years ago, having kicked off my career on local papers in West Yorkshire.

My sporting claim to fame is having played rugby for England Students (yes, I was a hooker), beating Wales and Scotland in the process. Having peaked at 21, I've been in decline ever since.

However, I saw the sense of swapping an oval ball for a round one and have been playing 11-a-side and five-a-side for the past three years. Despite having no discernible left foot I've mostly been playing left back. I also like running, tennis and skiing and am a recent convert to cycling.

As a Leeds United fan I'm hoping for a return to the glory days. After all, it's not so long ago that we were in the Champions League…

Sam Wilson:

sam_wilson.gifNormally confined to the newsroom in London, as a reporter for the BBC News website's world desk, I can't wait to join the party in Germany.

Unfortunately, I'm not flying in till the later stages, so have fingers crossed that England last that long.

I'm actually following some of the other teams in the tournament, so won't be on the trail of England or their fans (it has been suggested this might not be a bad thing..?)

Reckon Italy look good value at 15/2 for the tournament. (Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about..?)

Blog Editors:

bbcsport_logo.gifThe blog will usually be edited by one of three journalists - either Claire Stocks, Bridget Chandler or Alex Trickett. We'll be sitting in BBC Television Centre, London, while the rest of our blog team works really hard (lives it up??) in Germany.

We may have to get tough from time to time to make sure this blog stays clean and on topic, but we are basically here to help things run smoothly and to be a point of contact between you and the bloggers.

In particular, we'll all be liaising with Fletch and Ricco (who are very much the cornerstone of this blog) on a daily basis to make sure that their camper van odyssey around Germany follows some of the twists and turns that you suggest.

This blog is one of a series being trialled across the BBC so we're also here to field any questions or suggestions about it, or the BBC's approach to blogging in general, so ask away here, or email us.

Happy blogging!

About this blog

Welcome to BBC Sport's World Cup Blog.

Our aim is simple - to share daily behind-the-scenes access to the biggest football tournament on earth. That means plenty of gossip, anecdotes and photos. And our reporters around Germany will also reveal just what it takes to bring a World Cup to your televisions, radios, and computer screens.

Our bloggers include TV reporter Celina Hinchcliffe and Five Live's Nigel Adderley, while dynamic duo "Fletch and Ricco" will be driving across Germany in a camper van, acting on some of your suggestions and presenting a genuine "fan's eye" view of the World Cup. For a full list of contributors, check our "About the authors" page.

For the uninitiated, blogs (or weblogs) work like this:

The most recent posts appear at the top of the page. And at the bottom of every entry are two links:
• "Permalink" allows you to bookmark a particular post, or to send it by e-mail to a friend
• "Comments" invites you to offer your reaction to that entry, or read those of others
Comments are what set a blog apart from a traditional column because they create an immediate dialogue between the audience and author. Our contributors will be reading and responding to some of your comments and acting on some of your suggestions.

On the right hand side of the page, you will see a calendar and a list of authors. Click on a date to see that day's items or on an author to view only his or her contributions to the blog.

You can also use an RSS feed of this blog. For more information, please visit our help page.

Please keep your comments clean. Those which fail our house rules may be removed. If you see a post that is inappropriate, alert us by using the "complain about this post" link and we will act accordingly.

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And do try to keep your comments short and relevant to the posts they answer. We will delete off-topic posts because we want to keep this blog focused on the World Cup experience. Readers looking for longer or broader discussions on the intracacies of England's formation or pre/post-match debate should visit our message boards.

And those who are interested in the way we cover sport, might want to visit our Sport Editors' Blog. For specific complaints about the BBC Sport website, please email us here.

That's it - we hope you enjoy the World Cup blog and look forward to talking to you.

House Rules

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We may also occasionally close comments on a post if we think the discussion has become irrelevant.

The BBC welcomes feedback, both positive and negative, but we want to keep our blog as focused on the tournament, and people's experiences of it, as possible. For this reason, messages not relevant to the post will be removed. Please consider directing coverage comments to our Sport Editors' Blog at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/sporteditors/.

If you have a complaint about anything on the website, please email us here.

Repeatedly posting personal or offensive comments about individual members of the public or people who work for the BBC may be considered harassment. We reserve the right to remove such messages and take action against those responsible.

About the Blog Editors

bbcsport_logo.gifThe blog will usually be edited by one of three journalists - either Claire Stocks, Bridget Chandler or Alex Trickett. We'll be sitting in BBC Television Centre, London, while the rest of our blog team works really hard (lives it up??) in Germany.

We may have to get tough from time to time to make sure this blog stays clean and on topic, but we are basically here to help things run smoothly and to be a point of contact between you and the bloggers.

In particular, we'll all be liaising with Fletch and Ricco (who are very much the cornerstone of this blog) on a daily basis to make sure that their camper van odyssey around Germany follows some of the twists and turns that you suggest.

This blog is one of a series being trialled across the BBC so we're also here to field any questions or suggestions about it, or the BBC's approach to blogging in general, so ask away here, or email us.

Happy blogging!

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