Sports fans and geopolitical wonks tuned in today for the drawing of groups for the 2010 World Cup. The ceremonies surrounding the draw were a spectacle in and of themselves--actress Charlize Theron participated--but for the hardcore soccer fans, the draw was not about the entertainment: It was a white-knuckle drawing to determine the teams in the so-called "Group of Death," the name given each World Cup to the group containing the greatest number of top contenders. Only two teams from each group get to proceed to the elimination rounds: national fans watch keenly to try to predict how tough of a fight their team will have to advance.
Here's a selection of reactions as they came from livebloggers and tweeting fans.
American observers were delighted with the placement of the U.S. team, in a group with few serious competitors apart from England:
- GrantWahl: "U.S. will be picked to finish second in this group by most pundits behind England, ahead of Slovenia/Algeria."
- Mattyglesias: "Excellent...England...our oldest foe."
- Wingoz: "World cup draw... USA and England in same group. In 1776 we stole your colonies...in 2010 we'll take your sport!"
- Stephencon: "USA has a good chance to go through. Don't fancy England as # 1 seed. They usually find a way to blow it."
- Max Bergmann, The Huffington Post: "WE GET ENGLAND!!! BRING IT!!! ... It is also great to get England first and not in the second or third game. Hopefully they come out a little flat. Teams tend to be more on their game in the second game than the first ... YES!!! ALGERIA PUT INTO OUR GROUP. That was the team out of that pot we were praying for."
- Jeff Carlisle, ESPN chat: "If the US doesn't advance out of this group, then they will have some explaining to do"
Then there were some general reflections, including impatience with the ceremonies preceding the draw:
- Barney Ronay, The Guardian: "Charlize's accent has gone mad. She sounds like Alan Rickman playing a Euro-terrorist. And she's kind of playing it for laughs like it's the Oscars ... Jerome is now explaining what a ball is and how you kick it and what 'a goal' means. Or something. Who do they think is watching this? Martians? Get on with the draw."
- Pgdavid: "Spain, Switzerland, Honduras and Chile. The Swiss better learn some Spanish if they want to have any chances"
- Leander Schaerlaeckens, ESPN chat: "Poor North Koreans. Their savings were wiped out overnight (their currency was revalued) and now they're playing Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast ... I agree with the posters that there isn't really a Group of Death. There's no group where all four teams have the ability to win the group."
- Tomhawthorn: "My group of death: Beelzebub, Grim Reaper, Angel of Death, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"