All in the game


A world cup miscellany compiled by JOHN O'SULLIVAN

“ I would certainly not want to put anyone down and would simply say that we may not have shown our true personality as a team.”Spain manager Vicente del Bosque suggesting one or two of his players might be in danger after the defeat to Switzerland.

UCD and Shelbourne myths shot down: Dr Socrates never played in Ireland

SÓCRATES Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, or just plain old Socrates to football fans of a certain vintage, was a brilliant midfielder who played with Brazil in the World Cups of 1982 and 1986. At 6ft 4in, he was the playmaking linchpin of the best Brazilian team not to win a World Cup (1982), losing 3-2 to the eventual champions Italy.

In an Irish context, Socrates is the focal point of a couple of urban myths which claim he played reserve team football for UCD in the 1970s while studying at the Royal College of Surgeons, or played for Shelbourne while he was studying at the College of Technology, Kevin Street.

Completing the compendium of rumours is the one which says he won a Sigerson Cup medal.

As far as can be established, none of the above is true, even though Wikipedia suggests otherwise and several newspaper articles (they date back to 1986) claim the Brazilian did play soccer in Ireland.

Unfortunately, Socrates graduated from the Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto in São Paulo rather than from the Royal College of Surgeons.

In UCD’s Hidden History publication, Billy McGrath, who played first team soccer for UCD from 1973 to 1977 (and for a short time with Pegasus, UCD’s graduate team), maintained Sócrates never played for UCD.

There is also the small matter that, when asked about the claims, Socrates pointed out that he had never been to Dublin.

He is a GP in his home town of Ribeirao Preto.

Fennecs eye: English prey

PERHAPS it’s to embody power and speed, but several of the competing soccer teams in the 2010 World Cup boast animal or bird nicknames.

It’s Interesting while some nations go for the characteristics mentioned above, others opt for closer ties. The Algerian team, who take on Fabio Capello’s England side tonight, are known as ‘Les Fennecs’, after a desert fox of the same name.

The Fennec can be found in the Sahara desert, has big ears and very good hearing and is prized locally for its coat. It’s also also the national animal of Alergia.

Vuvuzelas to be blown out: Wimbledon bans trumpets

FANS of vuvuzelas will be dismayed to learn that sports authorities are falling over themselves to ban the three-foot trumpet from their stadia.

The GAA has said the vuvuzelas won’t be allowed at Croke Park, while it won’t be a shock to learn they won’t be heard at Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, either.

The All England club already prohibits noise-making items such as rattles and klaxons, and vuvuzelas fall into that category.

Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club, said: “Out of courtesy to the players and their fellow spectators, we make a point of asking spectators not to bring items which could either cause a distraction or interfere with the enjoyment of the occasion. Rattles, klaxons and vuvuzelas all fall into that category and they will not be allowed into the grounds. Our message is do not bring them in the first place.”


Adidas made the first official Fifa World Cup ball in 1970. The old Buckminster type of design was replaced by the Telstar version – it was more visible on black and white televisions.The most popular variety used comprised of 20 white hexagons and 12 black pentagons.

Making headlines: Beaten hosts and favourites

“Suiza de la Vuelta a Espana”, the headline taken from Spanish paper Diario de Burgos, can be translated as “Switzerland’s Tour of Spain”, which definitely removes some of the impact.

Although in fairness it’s probably an idiom for “Swiss overpower Spain” – or at least you’d like to think so.

The first shock of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was captured in both headline and picture.

Mind you, it’s all a question of perspective, as Swiss broadsheet Tages Anzeigerenthused: “Seventh Heaven in the Indian Ocean”.

El Paissummed up Uruguay’s 3-0 victory over South Africa under the banner “One Giant Step”, while the Nigerian paper Nextcouldn’t resist a little bit of alliteration in lamenting the fate of the hosts, “Bafana, Bafana Battered”. Inside the newspaper have added, “South Africans have had their chips”.


World Cup Willie: The lion is a traditional symbol of English sport, particularly the crest of the English soccer (three lions) and the cricket teams. It was the first time Fifa had adopted a mascot for a World Cup finals tournament and the licensing raised £4million in revenue.