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The World’s BIGGEST Sporting Event

After four years and hundreds of games, 32 soccer teams will battle for the championship of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa
Noah Davis
From the Print Edition:
Chris Noth, May/June 2010

(continued from page 3)

Every game will be broadcast in high definition, a massive quality increase. Soccer benefits from HD treatment because viewers can clearly observe the mind-bending skill of the players on the pitch. It's akin to the difference between watching an NHL game in regular and HD. Additionally, thanks to contracts with Major League Soccer, Spain's La Liga, and the English Premier League, ESPN now has a wealth of experience showing soccer to the American audience.

"[ESPN has] a real focused approach to broadcasting the game as it is broadcast around the world as opposed to Americanizing it and dumbing it down for the general sports consumer," says Don Garber, MLS commissioner and cigar connoisseur. "ESPN is going after the soccer fan and there are more than enough soccer fans to get excited about MLS, to get excited about the World Cup, and the production quality and values are going to reflect that."

The 2010 tournament won't be the tipping point for soccer in the States-how many times have sports pundits claimed that "football" was on the verge of breaking into the mainstream?-but it will be bigger than any previous World Cup. In 20 years, Americans will look back and point to the upcoming tournament as a major step in the sport's evolution in this country. The monthlong event will undoubtedly raise soccer's profile on our shores. It will also show visitors and spectators across the globe how far South Africa has come in two decades. The world is watching and the country is ready.

"When you arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you will see that South Africa is opening its arms and saying, ‘Welcome,' " says Consul General Ndhlovu.

You can almost picture Nelson Mandela standing there, smiling.

Noah Davis covers the United States Men's National Team for


Didier Drogba (Chelsea, English Premier League) Drogba, Africa's best and most visible talent, will shoulder heavy expectations to help carry a loaded Ivory Coast squad deep into the tournament. Their progress will be a major storyline during the World Cup.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool, English Premier League) The Englishman's midfield partner, Frank Lampard, can stake a claim to appearing on this list, but Liverpool's Gerrard is more consistent and versatile.

Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona, La Liga) The Iberian side is just that good. Iniesta provides the creative yin to Xavi's methodical yang.

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