Thursday, 10 June 2010

Following the World Cup - an alternative guide

Less than 24 hours away and this is the first World Cup-related article on The Cynical Challenge. This is an oversight, much akin to Graham Poll's three yellow cards for Josip Simunic (though not as bad as Ali ben Nasser's failure to spot Maradona's Hand of God).

But I have an excuse. It's difficult to write anything new about the goings-on in South Africa when every media outlet from Al Jazeera to Der Zeit (A-Z: geddit?) is covering it.

So rather than give you my own opinions - and I have many - on what might happen throughout the next month, let me point you in the way of a few choice places where you can get the most out of your viewing and reading experience.

Readers in the UK - and indeed beyond - will probably use the BBC website as their 'one-stop-shop' for World Cup news and live match commentary. Which is fair enough, and the Beeb has justly earned a reputation for reliable, entertaining and sophisticated online coverage. But stick to them and you might be missing out on some really fantastic coverage of the tournament.

If you're still a bit behind on the runners and riders in South Africa, why not head over to Some People Are On The Pitch and check out their World Cup pull-out. They've provided details not just of the teams and players competing, but have put together a fantastic mélange of stats, trivia, downloads and useful links. In short, it's everything you wanted to know about the World Cup but were afraid to ask.

For views and opinions worth reading, check out When Saturday Comes. The monthly magazine has spent a lot more time in recent months getting more out of their website, but thankfully that hasn't come at the expense of good writing and alternative perspectives on the action.

If you want to follow matches online try the brand new ITV Live site. I ought to add a caveat at this stage that I'm working for ITV during the tournament, so I'm not entirely unbiased in this respect - but I'm also one of the few people to have seen ITV Live in action prior to the tournament. It provides live video coverage of ITV's televised matches, plus text commentary of every game of the World Cup. But the really unique feature of ITV Live is that it may be the only place to find in-game video replays online - without having to resort to illegal streaming. Throughout the game ITV will be feeding video replays onto the site in real time, so you won't miss a thing.

If I'm going to plug my own office then I might as well give a shout out to some friends - the team behind the twofootedtackle blog now have their own dedicated World Cup site, Kwaitoball. If it's intelligent, clued-up and slightly cynical opinion you're after, Kwaitoball is the place for you.

And if you're not listening to the Football Ramble podcasts - well, frankly, where have you been? Four guys, a microphone, and a serious amount of football knowledge, delivered with a wit sharper than John Fashanu's elbows. The Ramble are going to be out in Johannesburg for the week of the World Cup Final, and I'm already pinning my colours to the mast by saying they, not the national media, will be breaking the great stories that week.

Hopefully that'll keep you entertained throughout the next month - but don't forget to keep visiting The Cynical Challenge for plenty more.

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Always glad to hear your thoughts. Be nice now! James