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2010 World Cup Football South Africa Showcases Worldclass Black Talent
Yes, the world is in the midst of soccer fever. The 2010 FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Soccer World Cup, which wows the world every four years, is now in its quarter-final stage and all bets are on who will win the final cup of this year. Will the indomitable Germans defeat the resilient Argentines or will the Netherlands score an upset? The Soccer World Cup is, without a doubt, the biggest and most anticipated sporting event of all time. Two hundred and four nations attempted to qualify for thirty-two spots, with the US qualifying for the first time in decades. The 2006 final match between Italy and France was watched by approximately 715 million. With changing demographics and 21st century technology making borders all but obsolete, this year’s tally is anyone’s guess. The fans arrive at the stadiums, crowd around the televisions, with the fervor of gladiators. Stories are invoked, wars are fought, players are publicly ridiculed and punished. The loyalties of players and countries are etched in stone with blood and sweat.
It is universally known as “the beautiful game,” for its elegant simplicity, the divinely appointed athletic prowess of its players, and its appeal to the common man. The skill of the game, the passion and enduring love for the game creates a brotherhood that transcends the sport. The incomparable, mindless euphoria of the GOOOOOAAAL! Like basketball, it elevates its talented players to the status of gods, while also connecting them to the mortals who live vicariously through them. More than any other sport, soccer is a great equalizer. Because neither the mere color of skin, nor the nationality, nor the Club can dictate ability or greatness. it’s just A boy from a favela in Brazil with a devastating goal or from an obscure town in Côte d’Ivoire can become a striker for a world-class English club. A good number come from extremely difficult circumstances, where getting ahead often means borrowing a pair of cleats and going to a game in a dusty bowl. Today’s black footballers who come from far away countries to play for European clubs like Inter Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United. But for the World Cup, they go back to playing only for their national team. This is not to say that racism in football is not a serious problem. The taunts and behavior of fans can be unspeakably ugly, cruel and primitive, coming from a contingent that remains stubbornly ignorant and primitive. That the players consistently rise above that is a testament to his strength and personal integrity. Gambling has become a way of life that can change the trajectory of lives and communities. The amazing paychecks are often accompanied by high commercial endorsements from Nike, Gillette and others. Players share in their good fortune, donating substantial amounts to build life-saving hospitals, schools, and social service programs.
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is the first to be played on the African continent and has the potential to change global perceptions on several levels. From the Africa Cup of Nations to the 2010 World Cup, footballers of African descent and African nationality have put the world on notice: they are a force to be reckoned with. Just ask Team USA.
And no self-respecting football fan calls it football. It’s football, now and always.
Here are eight of the best and brightest black soccer players in the world from the 2010 World Cup South Africa.
Club: Inter Milan; Cameroon national team
Winnings: $12. 7 million
The world has been put on notice. Undoubtedly one of the best left-backs in the world, Samuel Eto’o’s achievements are momentous for his country and his club. He exemplifies soccer excellence in the vein of great legends and has exceeded expectations at every club he has played for. His performance has always been excellent and he is currently the most decorated African player of all time, including African Player of the Year for three consecutive years. A goalscoring machine, Eto’o scored more than 100 goals in five seasons with FC Barcelona. He is captain of the Cameroonian national team and currently the highest paid soccer player in Africa. He has participated in two World Cups and five African Cups of Nations and is the all-time top scorer in African Cup of Nations history, (capturing championship twice) with 18 goals. At the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Eto’o became joint top scorer
As a member of the Cameroonian national team, he was a gold medalist at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Country: Ivory Coast/Côte d’Ivoire
Earnings: $7.5 million Sponsorships: Pepsi; samsung
Check the name because it is the future of football. Don’t be fooled by Drogba’s late entry into the football arena, he is a powerhouse. Known for breaking down impregnable defences, Drogba is a goalkeeper’s nightmare. Signed by Chelsea for $37 million, he has proven invaluable. He has scored more goals for the club than any other foreign player and is the seventh highest goalscorer in history. most promising African footballers, he is one of the top scorers in the Premier League. Captain and all-time top scorer for the Ivory Coast national football team, Drogba signed for Chelsea for a record £24 million fee, making him the most expensive Ivorian player in the league. history. Drogba rose to fame as one of the world’s greatest forwards in 2006, when he won the league title with Chelsea and captained the national team for the first time. At the 2006 World Cup he scored the Ivory Coast’s first goal in the competition and was voted the 2006 African Footballer of the Year. He is the only player to have scored in six English Cup finals.
But much of this pales in comparison to his humanitarian work for his country. After Côte d’Ivoire qualified for the 2006 World Cup, Drogba called for a ceasefire between the combatants in his country’s deadly five-year civil war, which was enforced shortly thereafter. In 2007, he was named a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador and donated his $4.5 million signing fee for his endorsement of Pepsi for the construction of a hospital in his hometown of Abidjan.
Maicon Douglas Sisenando
Club team: Internazionale AKA Inter Milan
Earnings: $5.4 million
A talented right-back and formidable defender, Maicon is a phenomenon in Brazilian soccer, no easy feat. He excels in defensive games and provides great support to his team. Maicon scored Brazil’s first goal at the 2010 World Cup, a tight angle shot, against Korea in their first game. Maicon’s contribution to Inter Milan has included staunch defense and attacking support, putting him in contention for the 2010 Ballon d’Or, the European Footballer of the Year award. In a nod to his prowess, Real Madrid recently paid £28m for him to join their club.
Club team: Manchester United
Position: Defender, Winger; french captain
Earnings: $4 million
Evra is his own version of the United Nations. Born in Senegal of Guinean heritage and French nationality, he is one of Manchester United’s most valuable players and, interestingly enough, captain of the French national team. Arguably one of the best left-backs in the world and a wicked left-back, Evra has won Premier League and Champions League titles with Manchester United. During United’s 07–08 season, Evra became a key member of United’s defence. But he is not without controversy. Following the expulsion of his teammate Nicolás Anelka from the squad following his falling out with manager Raymond Domenech, Evra led a player riot against the decision and publicly denounced the manager. As a result, Evra was benched for the last match against South Africa. Even so, he returns to a very distinguished career.
Club team: Barcelona; French team
Earnings: Annual salary plus bonus: $6.2 million, Other income: $6.2 million
Sponsorships: Pepsi, Gilette, Reebok
He is one of the most recognized and praised players in soccer and, without a doubt, a worthy distinction for one of the most outstanding strikers in the sport. During his meteoric rise at Arsenal, the phenomenal Henry emerged as the top scorer in nearly every season with 226 goals in all competitions. The phenomenal Frenchman won two league titles and three FA Cups and was nominated twice for FIFA World Player of the Year. Possessed of devastating speed and superhero agility, he remains Europe’s all-time top scorer with 42 goals with a flair for the impossible and dramatic goals. Despite the controversy surrounding Henry’s proclivity for using his hand to set up a goal, he is a footballing institution that has elevated the sport to an art form.
Club team: Chelsea (ENG); French team
Earnings: $5.8 million Sponsorships: Puma
Although his petulance rivals his potential, Anelka has shown tremendous potential as a striker. A relentless goalscorer who is lightning fast with excellent control, Anelka’s goal won France their World Cup match against Ireland. His three-and-a-half-year contract and his reported fee mean more money has been spent on Nicolás’ transfer throughout his career than on any other player in football history.
Sully Muntari Country: Ghana
Club team: Internazionale AKA Inter Milan
Earnings: $5.3 million, endorsements: Puma
If Ghana wins the World Cup, you can bet that Muntari will be instrumental in their victory. A soccer prodigy, Muntari was just 16 when he played for Ghana at the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina. He was voted an All-Star Player during the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations Tournament in Ghana.
Country: Ivory Coast
Club team: Barcelona
Profit: $3.7 million
Toure’s titanic stature and boundless energy combine to make him one of the best midfielders in modern football, perfectly blending physical power with superb technique. He is the first Ivorian player to win the UEFA Champions League, in 2008/09 and one of the driving forces behind the team that rewrote football history by winning six trophies in a single season. He recently transferred from Barcelona to Manchester City for £25 million, where he will join his brother, brother and club captain, Kolo. He was a powerful midfielder for his native Ivory Coast, which made his first appearance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
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