The 2014 FIFA World Cup is happening in Brazil in just a matter of days but did you know that this is not the first time Brazil will be hosting the biggest football event on the planet? It is actually their second time – the first was in 1950 when they lost to Uruguay in the championships. Granted, this second time around, a lot more money has been thrown in, and a lot more controversies are spewing out from the event.
If you keep with the latest news related to the World Cup, you may know that Brazilians are taking to the streets to protest against the exorbitant expenditure the government has been pumping in to make the event happen.
However there may be things that escaped your radar; things like…
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1. First World Cup with goal-line technology
Anyone remembered Frank Lampard’s goal that “didn’t” went in in the previous World Cup? That absolute mess will be a thing of the past starting with this year’s World Cup, thanks to goal-line technology. Goal-line technology assists the referee by employing the use of electronic devices to ascertain whether the ball has actually crossed the goal line or not.
In this World Cup, there will be 14 high speed cameras in the field with seven positioned at each of the two goalmouths. When the ball enters the goal line, the referree would receive an indication through a special watch he wears. If you are a bit sceptical that this technology would work, rest assured that it was tested in the 2013 Confederation Cup and was approved by FIFA themselves.
2. Security: In robots we trust
With the recent outbreak of protests in Brazil and its high crime rate, the authorities are sparing no expanse in security. Besides deploying 15000 troops and police and 20000 security guards, the 12 stadiums will also be manned by military robots called PackBots. The Brazillian government purchased 30 PackBots for $7.2 million from manufacturer iRobot.
The PackBot is programmed to analyze suspicious-looking objects. Each robot is equipped with GPS, video, thermal detection, electronic compass and system diagnostics. The robots are durable enough to withstand a fall onto concrete from two meters up, have a 360-degree rotation range and are compactable to fit into a backpack when folded.
3. "Darth Vader" Police
If security is going to be beefed up, the police might as well get a facelift (sort of). The police force patroling the 12 stadiums will be equipped with masks inspired by Star War’s Darth Vader. The masks are to be used by the anti-riot police in anticipation of protests set to take place during the games.
Don’t be turned off by the appearance of the mask, it is built to offer protection from gas attacks and high temperatures via a visor that does not fog up. On top of that, the mask has a voice amplifier that modifies the wearer’s voice, designed to give a psychological effect. What are the odds that police would go around saying "I am your father"?
(Image source: Latino News)
4. First kick-in by paraplegic teen
Tradition dictates that a celebrity would perform the first ceremonial kick to officiate the World Cup. This year however a paraplegic teenager will perform that honor in a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton. The exoskeleton will enable the teen to get up and walk from his wheelchair despite being paralysed from the waist down.
Developed by Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, the exoskeleton is built with light metal and powered by hydraulics. The person operating the exoskeleton would be wearing a suit and a cap fitted with electrodes to pick up the signals from the brain to transfer to the suit. We could very well be seeing the future where wheelchairs will cease to be this coming opening ceremony.
(Image source: Facebook)
5. The Stadiums that are (or not)
This World Cup is beset with the fact that not all 12 of the stadiums will be completed in time. At the time of writing, 3 of the 12 stadiums are still being constructed, 2 of which are being tested but still require fixing here and there. Ironicly, the final yet-to-be tested stadium is where the opening match will take place.
Of the 12 stadiums, the Mineirão Stadium in the city of Belo Horizonte is the first to be completed and the first to have a solar-powered roof. The stadium has a seating capacity of 62000 and will see about 6 out of the 64 games to be played in the coming World Cup. The other stadiums to have solar-powered technology are the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and the Pernambuco Stadium in Recife.
(Image source: Wikipedia)
6. Iranian players are on Twitter
Iran may have blocked Twitter but it cannot stop Twitter from getting all 32 squads to be represented on the microblogging network. With the help of an Iranian freelance journalist Negar Mortazavi, Iranian defender Hossein Mahini became Iran’s first footballer on Twitter.
— Hossein Mahini (@HosseinMahini) May 15, 2014
Prior to this, although Mahini had a Twitter account, he had only posted a couple of tweets. As the World Cup draws closer Mahini managed to get two other players, Sardar Azmoun and Mohammad Reza Khalatbari, to join the social network site. The three accounts belonging to the Iranian players are now verified.
7. Only 8 countries have won the World Cup
Although there has been 19 World Cup tournaments since 1930, only eight countries have won the championship. The eight countries include this year’s host Brazil, last year’s champions Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Argentina, France and the inaugural champions Uruguay.
Of the eight, Brazil has the most wins with five followed by Italy who won four World Cups. Germany comes in third with three wins. Argentina and Uruguay have both won two tournaments while England, France and Spain have only one win. It’s not surprising that these countries are among the favourites to win this year’s championship.
(Image source: BleacherReport.com)
8. Japan: I Choose you, Pikachu!
The World Cup is the perfect time to get a cute mascot to represent the event. Or in Japan’s case, to represent the team. In collaboration with Adidas and The Pokemon Company, the Japanese have chosen the yellow pocket monster Pikachu to be their team mascot.
In addition, the Japanese even came up with an all-Pokemon football squad with Pikachu as the captain, and the team made up of other Pokemon: Meowth, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Froakie, Chespin, Pancham, Fennekin, Helioptile and Litleo. They are all decked in Japan’s World Cup kit.
9. To beer or not to beer?
For a sporting event, the FIFA World Cup endorses alcohol by serving beer outside the stadiums. This stems from the fact that Budweiser is FIFA’s official beer sponsor on top of beer being a World Cup tradition. However FIFA’s alcoholic requirement clashes with the Brazilian ban of alcoholic drinks within the vicinity of the stadiums.
Brazil has banned alcohol at football matches since 2003 in a bid to curb violence between opposing fans. This has been a headache to FIFA who insisted that beer must be sold as well as for alcohol to be enshrined in the World Cup constitution. To date, Brazil has lifted its alcohol ban, albeit temporarily, to accommodate the World Cup.
(Image source: CapitalFM)
10. Most expensive squads
With the prize money of $567 million to be awarded to the champions, it is not surprising that the winner in turn will become the most expensive team as well. As last year’s champions, Spain is currently the most expensive team on the field.
According to this article, three of Spain’s players namely Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets cost $75.39 million, $67.99 million and $61.42 million respectively. Including the other players, Spain cost a total of $1029.37 million. Following Spain, Germany comes in second at a total of $844.43 million and Brazil is the third most expensive team at $640.81 million.
(Image source: FIFA)
Here’s 2 More!
Strange requests by football teams
If you think superstars make very strange requests, wait til you hear what football teams ask for in their rooms during the World Cup. Some are understandable, like team Algeria asking for a Quran in every room , while others are a little bit cray cray: team Ecuador wants a basket of bananas from Ecuador in every room.
Here’s what the other teams are asking for (this does not include the universal request for video game consoles):
- Japan wants a jacuzzi tub in every room.
- Chile wants every room to have new beds and flat screen TVs.
- Uruguay requested for silent air conditioning in all rooms.
- Switzerland would like to have high-speed Internet and six TV channels in every room.
- Honduras want six Spanish TV stations in their channel guide, including two Honduras channels.
- Australians asked for a selection of newspapers from around the world, every day.
- Colombia want 15 lucky kids to take part in their training sessions (awww).
- France prefers liquid soap (to soap bars) and kosher meat.
- Portugal demands for six bodyguards, of which four will be assigned to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Brazil’s weather is too hot to function
If your mind conjures up images of the hot Brazilian sun and its tropical jungles, you are not far off the mark. Brazil is a humid country. Some regions are especially more humid than the others, like the cities of Manaus, Recife, Fortazela, Natal and Salvador. As these cities are among the 12 where matches will take place, players not accustomed to the weather may struggle to play.
For this reason, referrees are allowed to pause a game for two or three times if the heat gets too much. However this may have been avoided altogether if FIFA did not schedule kick-off times at lunchtime, when the sun is at its hottest. FIFA may have arranged for matches to be played at this time to accommodate European TV screening times, but it just might face legal action for subjecting players to scorching conditions.
(Image source: Wikipedia)