This time last year the entire world gathered in front of TV screens to watch the World Cup. According to International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) estimates, 3,178,856 people made their way to South Africa, and around the globe 700 million viewers watched the Spanish victory in the final match.
When he was 15, Maurice Koné dreamed of becoming a great footballer. Adored for his technical skill and eye for goal by fans in Koumassi, a neighbourhood in the south of Abidjan, he dreamed of living the life of a professional overseas.
Weak floodlights barely held back gathering darkness as Somalia met Serbia in the finals of the Poor People's World Cup. A small band of supporters were on hand to see an African side lift the cup in Cape Town's Vygieskraal Stadium.
Football functions on so many levels. It can be big business, moving astronomical quantities of cash, with obscene salaries for owners, coaches and star players. And it can be a widely played sport, found in every park, street or vacant lot. And it can be the common ground for multicultural coexistence.
It’s Friday night, and in a "favela" (shanty town) in this Brazilian city, a group of men relax with a beer after a hard week, while a song can be heard above the rowdy chatter.
The FIFA Football World Cup is presented -- and felt emotionally by millions -- as a contest amongst countries in which national honour is at stake. But it is also a private business, controlled by a small group of people who exploit patriotism and foment rivalries in marketing the "product."
Vivian Howard is a single mother who cooks and cleans like just about any other woman in Liberia - but in her work life she’s in charge of 22 strong, athletic men. The first and only centre female referee in Liberia with a FIFA badge, Howard is standing shoulder to shoulder with the men of Liberia.
Throughout the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, organisers have insisted that the legacy of the event goes far beyond the sporting spectacle. In the dusty streets of a Windhoek township, Deon Namiseb believes this is true.
England coach Fabio Capello has bemoaned the unpredictable trajectory of the Jabulani World Cup ball, calling it "the worst ball"in the history of the tournament. But labour rights groups have a greater complaint.
The Peruvian government is taking advantage of the broadcasts of the World Cup football games in South Africa to air an ad touting a reduction in the poverty rate from 48 to 34 percent between 2005 and 2009 as an achievement of the administration of President Alan García.
Delays in construction to prepare for the 2014 football World Cup, to be hosted by Brazil, bring to mind the budget overruns and the secretive bidding process ahead of the Pan-American Games held in Rio de Janeiro in 2007.
Perhaps Africa's World Cup began in earnest on Jun. 16, when a despondent green and gold-clad crowd began leaving the Loftus Versfeld stadium even before the end of South Africa's heavy defeat to Uruguay. Migrant African fans felt the first touch of cold post-tournament reality.
Football, the most popular sport in Colombia, has been subject to heavy pressures from drug trafficking since the mid-1970s. A new study shows that the illicit trade continues to tarnish the upper echelons of this sport.
Long known as "the football nation," Brazil today is seeking a new title: recognition as a global economic and political power -- though without denying the sport that made it famous.
"Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that," former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said. Uncomfortably close to a bald statement of fact for fans of the beautiful game in Somalia, who risk their lives to watch the World Cup unfolding in South Africa.
No one admits to providing them with support, but hundreds of Argentine football hooligans known as "barras bravas" flew to South Africa for the World Cup and are threatening to cause disturbances if the football clubs do not get them tickets to the games.
The Mexican government and capital city authorities are making the most of the national football team's participation in the FIFA World Cup beginning Friday in South Africa, by using the sport's power to distract public attention away from the economic crisis and the violent battle against drug trafficking.
A new school to train football referees to work amateur-level tournaments in Argentina aims at providing skills and a legitimate source of income for young people from poor homes.
In a country where many poor children dream of "making it big" through football or modeling, retired Brazilian football stars Leonardo and Raí could have simply basked in their fame. But they decided instead to combine sport with education, art and skills training.
South Africa, where the FIFA Football World Cup is to kick off Jun. 11, has introduced cleaner transportation, while Brazil is planning ecological stadiums for the championship it will host in 2014. But these and other initiatives clash with the countries' overall environmental performance.
A fierce debate has erupted over claims that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will fuel the trafficking of women from African and other countries to South Africa for sexual exploitation during the cup, which starts on Jun 11.