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FOR THE WEEK OF JUNE 14, 2010

Month-long World Cup matches put soccer, the most popular sport, on screens everywhere

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Look for coverage that goes beyond scores or standings -- such as player profiles, a host country report or an article about media coverage or advertising.
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See if you spot anything about U.S. soccer at the youth or professional level, even if it doesn't mention the World Cup.
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Check the Sports section for other athletic news outside mainstream summer sports such as golf, baseball, horse racing or NASCAR. Share an example.

The planet's biggest sporting event is under way in South Africa, host to a 32-nation men's soccer championship held every four years. This is more super than the Super Bowl and makes our so-called World Series seem like a local T-ball tournament. Globally, people spend more time watching or playing soccer (called football in most places) than any other sport. The final World Cup match in 2006 drew an estimated 715 million TV viewers.

Soccer is a uniquely democratic team sport. Stars can come from anywhere and be almost any size -- even short or skinny. Brazil has won the World Cup a record five times. Italy, the current champion, has won four titles. The best current player, Lionel Messi of Argentina, is 5 foot, 7 inches tall.
In Team USA's first match, the Americans tied 1-1 with England this past weekend. Clint Dempsey of Texas scored the U.S. goal. Other home country players to watch on ESPN are goalkeeper Tim Howard and scoring threat Landon Donovan.
Youth leagues in just about every community, college scholarships and an 18-team professional network have boosted the sport's popularity here. So has the expanding population of Hispanic-Americans, who embrace it with particular fervor as part of their heritage. At the college level, soccer has the largest number of female athletes among NCAA schools.

For South Africa, the event that began last Friday and runs through July 11 is a chance "to show the world that we are capable," President Jacob Zuma says. More than 350,000 visitors are expected. The tourism and business impact is partly why the United States is among nations competing to host the 2018 World Cup, following the next series in Brazil in four years. Former President Bill Clinton is honorary chair of the bid committee. "If we get it, there will be an economic stimulus estimated between $400 million to $600 million per host city," he says.

President Obama says: "Everybody is going to be rooting for you. Although sometimes we don't remember here in the United States, this is going to be the biggest world stage there is and you're going to be representing all of us." -- Team USA sendoff at White House [see video]

Host official says: "If we can deliver the World Cup, we will have finally dismissed the idea created by apartheid [racial separation] that there are greater and lesser human beings. We will be ready to take our place in the world." -- Danny Jordan, head of South Africa's organizing committee

U.S. team owner says: "Soccer is the only game played around the world. We can't be that different than anyone else in the world." -- Joe Roth, main owner of the Seattle Sounders

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Front Page Talking Points is written by Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2016
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