The 6 biggest off-the-field World Cup controversies
Fake North Korean fans, illegal Dutch miniskirts, and a Brazilian Twitter hoax. The drama behind the scenes at the World Cup is almost as scintillating as the action on the pitch
Although some pundits are bemoaning the lack of on-field drama during the first round of the World Cup — only 6 of 32 teams scored more than one goal in their opening matches — there's been plenty of controversy outside the bounds of play. From allegedly fake fans to sexy miniskirt scandals, here's a round-up of World Cup controversies.
1. North Korea's "Chinese" hired-gun fansIn one of the tournament's odder twists, North Korea reportedly set up 1,000 Chinese actors with tickets to support North Korea's games. Facebook and Twitter posters were abuzz at how "sad" it was that North Korea had to hire fans when about 40 apparent enthusiasts decked out in the communist country's red-and-blue colors showed up at its July 15th match against Brazil. It later transpired that North Korea had, in fact, decided to send "about 200" actual citizens to cheer on its team.
2. Dutch beer firms's 'sexy' ambush ad campaignBavaria, a Dutch beer company, attempted to exploit TV-sports cameramen's well-known tendency to highlight sexy female fans by sending 36 women in hypnotically matching, skimpy orange outfits to the June 14 Netherlands-Denmark game. Unfortunately, the stunt broke South African laws against "ambush marketing" and the ringleaders were arrested.
3. Shakira's lack of African bloodAlthough the South American pop star, Shakira, who was chosen to write and perform the World Cup theme song, turned in a number based on a Cameroonian marching chant, "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)," fans were outraged that local talent had been overlooked, and performing unions threatened to boycott the opening ceremony if African musicians were not adequately represented. The South African organizers beefed up the African content in the opening ceremony — but the Columbian starlet still performed the song. (Watch Shakira's controversial performance)
4. French minister's budgeting flubRama Yade, France's 33-year-old junior sports minister, committed a classic political gaffe in the days leading up to the World Cup. Just days after Yade criticized the French soccer team for wasting taxpayers money on "showy" accommodation, it emerged that her own 5-star South African hotel room actually cost more than the players' suites. Yade attempted to defuse the row by saying she is "not known" for her excesses. "People even say that I dress cheaply," she said.
5. Paraguay striker shot in the head before tournamentInjuries sidelined plenty of potential World Cup players, but it's safe to say none were so seriously hurt as Salvador Cabanas, the Paraguayan striker who was shot in the head at point blank range in January in a Mexico City bar, apparently part of a dispute over Cabanas' failure to score more goals for his local team. The player survived, but it is not known whether he will be able to play soccer again.
6. Brazil's Twitter campaign to silence their sports announcerGalvão Bueno is a Brazilian football commentator whose heavy-handed, error-prone manner has left him deeply unpopular in his own country. Brazilian soccer fans took to Twitter on Monday to register their disapproval, and soon the phrase "Cala Boca Galvão" ("Shut up, Galvão") was Twitter's top trending topic. When non-Portuguese-speaking fans expressed confusion, Brazilian jokers claimed the phrase referred either to a new Lady Gaga single, or a campaign to save an endangered species of bird named the Galvao. That both claims were reported as fact in the international media is apparently delighting Brazilian fans.