Sunday, July 09, 2006

206 Minus Two

What to say about a match that 1 billion people are watching? "More people, more countries, more passion," is FIFA's angle.

The television rights for the World Cup netted FIFA $1.22 billion, with rights sold to 200 countries and all but one of FIFA's 206 member territories (Saparmurat Niyazov's Turkmenistan is the odd man out).

Aside from Turkmenistan, there is at least one place where the Cup's message has failed to penetrate: Mogadishu. The AP reported this week:
Somalia-Radical Islamic militia fighters in central Somalia shot and killed two people at the screening of a banned World Cup soccer broadcast, an independent radio station reported.

The Islamic fighters, who have banned such entertainment, were dispersing a crowd of teenagers watching the match. They opened fire after the teenagers defied their orders to leave the hall in which a businessman was screening the Germany-Italy match on satellite television, Shabelle Radio reported Wednesday. It said the dead were a girl and the business owner.

Islamic fighters who wrested control of the Somali capital from warlords in June forbade movies and television entertainment in line with their strict interpretation of Islam. The Supreme Islamic Courts Council, originally called the Islamic Courts Union, has expanded its control to other parts of southern Somalia.
The World Cup reaches Africa for the first time in 2010. For national governments and organizers the goal should be that all African citizens will be able to watch the match in peace.


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