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Sierra Leone News: Africa Notebook

Let the games begin. Barring any hitch, the FIFA soccer tournament is certain to start on Thursday. For many South Americans, the games took a long time returning. The continent hosted the World Cup in 1978 and for Brazil in particular, the last game there was as far back as 1950.
Running up to the games itself, Brazil is now engulfed in a myriad of workers strikes and small scale demonstrations over high prices, poor public services and political corruption.
Demonstrators in the past months were also criticizing President Dilma Rousseff’s administration for huge spending on the games, while the poor are not addressed.
What ever happened to Brazilian passion for football, one man queried.
With presidential elections due in September, it is uncertain whether Madam Rousseff will have the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off.
Her chances of winning the election hinges on how Brazil fares in the games. If it goes on a winning streak, it could bolster Rousseff’s chances to clinch State House.
Heaven help her if they lose. And worse still, if Brazil gets kicked out in the first round. It would be a penalty against their own government.
FIFA too is having its own dosage and calls for investigation is intensifying as to how the tiny but rich Gulf state of Qatar won the bid to stage the World Cup in 2022.
The giant electronic company, Sony is making the call which seemed to likely dull the shine on the 2014 games. All indications so far, is that the show would go on, perhaps with less glittering lights at the start but will certainly pick up speed as the days and weeks go by.
For both inside Brazil and elsewhere, the mood is that everything else can wait.
The month-long games will come with repercussions. Government and commercial business will operate on half time. There will be less traffic on the road, despite the differences in time zone. Betting shops would have roaring trade, paying out winnings and pocketing the cash from losers.
The hopes are that the massive loss which many gamblers had in the 2010 South African tournament will not be repeated. Gamblers like money but it is doubtful whether they will learn this time.
The fallout of losers in 2010 was astounding. One man it could be recalled committed suicide after losing his four-storey house built out of his pension fund. He backed the losing side. Another, a soccer fanatic, bet his wife without her knowledge…and he lost. I never bothered to find out how it was sorted out.
Looking at the games spread, it is the same African teams that showed up in the 2010 games, so they better go beyond the first round this time.
It has become clear that the brilliance of African players has made the games to be a must-watch event.
For the African teams -Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d”Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria (in alphabetical order), its good luck for the best side to win. It has shown a West African and North African dominance for nearly 30 years or so.
True it was only Ghana that made it through to the quarter final.
Some of the big names in the European leagues and elsewhere, are Africans even though some cheeky spectators will toss the bananas in the sidelines.
Wednesday June 11, 2014

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