England's orphaned soccer dreams

Pavlos Joseph says he was just looking for a bathroom when he wandered into England's locker room after a match.
Pavlos Joseph says he was just looking for a bathroom when he wandered into England's locker room after a match.
Posted: June 21, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - On Saturday, two members of England's national team, Michael Dawson and Matthew Upson, visited the SOS Children's Village, an orphanage housing approximately 80 children.

The orphanage is situated outside Rustenburg, near England's World Cup base camp.

Local radio stations and various websites circulated this (fabricated) quotation from the visit: "It's good to put a smile on the faces of people with no hope, constantly struggling and facing the impossible," said Jamal Umbobo, age 6, of his visit with Dawson and Upson.

England has yet to win a match at this World Cup, tying the United States and Algeria, and finds itself, surprisingly, in the precarious position of possibly not advancing out of the group stage.

According to the Daily Mail, an English newspaper, two houses in the orphanage are funded by the FA and Tottenham, an English Premier League team. One, put up by the FA, was built during South Africa's bidding for the World Cup. Tottenham's was built using fines handed out to players for being late to training or buses.

Overheard. A large Mexican contingent that spends most mornings in the hotel lobby wearing the black, green, and red congregated on Sunday morning and immediately inquired about the location of the closest Catholic church.

Hey, it was Sunday, and Mexico's national team needs only a tie to advance in its Tuesday match against Uruguay.

Not the bathroom. The England fan who wandered into his country's dressing room after Friday night's 0-0 tie with Algeria told the Sunday Mirror that he inadvertently found the locker room while looking for the bathroom.

"The next thing I knew, there was David Beckham standing in front of me," said Pavlos Joseph, the fan.

Finding himself in his team's locker room, Joseph did what any big-time fan would do. He said, "David, we have spent a lot of money coming out here, that was a disgrace, and what are you going to do about it?"

Tourist bonanza. From June 1 to June 13, more than 456,000 international visitors entered South Africa, this according to Danny Jordaan, the chief executive officer for South Africa's local organizing committee.

According to Johannesburg's Sunday Times, the LOC estimated about 300,000 such visitors; Jordaan told the same newspaper that, despite empty seats visible on television broadcasts, 98 percent of the more than three million tickets had been sold. If those numbers hold steady, ticket sales could surpass those of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

A "conservative" estimate said that $18 billion could be pumped into the South African economy.

"How can you put a figure or measure the pictures being broadcast to hundreds of millions of people globally of our country every day?" Jordaan told the Sunday Times.

Legends of Cameroon. With Saturday's disappointing 2-1 loss to Denmark, Cameroon became the first team eliminated from the World Cup. Asked if it was the "greatest disappointment of his legendary career," Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, who plays for Inter Milan, said, "You think my career is legendary?"

OK, that's not what Eto'o said.

He said, "I think so."

Cameroon came into the competition as one of the favorites to advance out of group play, but instead ended with a "horror showing."

Cameroon coach Paul Le Geun said "Me, only me," when asked who should be blamed for the performance.

"I'm very sad for the Cameroon people," Le Geun said.

Getting even. Reports from Ireland indicate that the Irish people, robbed of a World Cup bid by the hand of Frenchman Thierry Henry, have been enjoying France's dismal World Cup performance.

Things have gotten so bad for the French that the players went on strike Sunday in protest at Nicolas Anelka's having been sent home. There was also an altercation between captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne.

According to the Associated Press, one promotion in Ireland offers 5 euros off restaurant meals each time France surrenders a goal, while an electronics chain is offering a discount on televisions using the slogan, "When the French lose, the Irish win."

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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