Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Game Before The Game, World Cup 2014

The World Cup isn’t just about the love of soccer. With close to a billion viewers expected to follow this year’s matches, the world’s largest sporting event inspires sponsors and broadcasters to spend enormous amounts of money to pitch their products to the crowds.

Earlier this month, as they do every four years, both Nike and Adidas unveiled their cinematic commercial campaigns. This time around, however, there’s a new entrant in this strongly contested field.

Last week, Beats by Dr. Dre joined the fray with “The Game Before the Game,” a five-minute spot chronicling the pre-game rituals of athletes like Brazilian star Neymar, who is seen in a phone conversation with his father ahead of Brazil’s opening World Cup match. The video also features Germany’s Mario Götze, Mexico’s Chicharito and other guest stars from Serena Williams to Lil Wayne.

To direct the shoot, Beats called on photographer-turned-filmmaker Nabil Elderkin, who’s made his name directing videos by Kanye West, Bon Iver and Nicki Minaj, among many others. While directing notoriously temperamental musicians can be tricky, bringing athletes together can be a logistical nightmare.

“A music video is generally shot over one or two days, maximum,” Nabil tells TIME. “The artist is confirmed for that day, and there’s a narrative planned for the shoot. I also can talk with the musicians about the videos to make sure we’re on the same page. With the Beats spot, we had to work around these athletes’ schedules, which can change daily as they have intense schedules during the season, especially leading up to the World Cup. I also hadn’t met them prior to the shoot.” Yet, says Nabil, it all went smoothly.

“The feeling I got from the get-go was that the whole project was driven by the tight relationships Beats has with these talents. The athletes and musicians worked with us as if we were all part of the same family. It didn’t feel like they were just sponsored athletes endorsing a product. They were happy to be involved and this really made the shooting environment much more relaxed and intimate.”

“The Game Before the Game” was filmed and post-produced over six weeks. “I worked with Omar Johnson, Beats’ vice-president of marketing. His goal was to keep the team lean, agile and aggressive. He didn’t want a large production because we knew that we would need to be opportunistic. I feel this approach really helped in creating an intimate setting where these players were comfortable to share with us their actual pre-game rituals, which are very personal. It also helped us in being able to bounce around the world efficiently.” Nabil worked days and nights for a month across eight different time zones. 

“The lack of sleep never helps you stay as creative as you want, but we went for it. The cinematographer, Danny Hiele, and I had a few hairy moments in the helicopter over Rio when the weather was windy and stormy – altitude drops when flying in a helicopter are definitely ‘God-help-me’ moments. Danny was literally hanging out of the plane with a massive camera and just a single-strap seatbelt holding him in.”

The results, however, have evidently been worth the effort. The clip has already accrued 7 million views on YouTube and stands out from, for example, Adidas’s official 2014 clip — in part, says Nabil, thanks to Beats’ take on the film’s production. 

“Beats wanted to do it more like a music video as opposed to a commercial. In the end, music wins.” And for Nabil, music has always been an integral part of his life. He got his first break when, in 2000, he registered the domain name That was before the rapper had signed his first label. The two became friends, and when the photographer looked to expand his horizons with video, West hired him to direct a few of his songs. “Kanye and John Legend gave me the opportunity to try my own video,” he says. 

“These videos had low budgets and were for non-single songs, but that gave me a little more freedom to play around, which really was a great learning experience. I did some weird videos. When I listen to music that moves me, it conjures stories and imagery. Weird things happen in my head.” Now, the photographer is looking to direct his first feature film. But in the meantime, he wouldn’t say no to “a good surfing trip with some of my friends,” he says. “I’ve been talking about doing that for the past seven years. It’s about time.” 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Euro 2012 Betting Odds

The 14th European Championship will take place beginning June 8th in Warsaw, Poland and will end on July 1st in Kiev, Ukraine. Defending European and world champions Spain are favorites, but three-time winners Germany are in second-place, followed by the Netherlands, England and France.

Anticipation of this event is huge, and the event will receive global media attention.

The following is a consensus of bookmakers predictions betting odds for Euro 2012:
  1. Spain
  2. Germany
  3. Netherlands
  4. France
  5. England
  6. Italy
  7. Portugal
  8. Russia
  9. Poland
  10. Ukraine
  11. Croatia
  12. Sweden
  13. Czech Republic
  14. Denmark
  15. Republic of Ireland
  16. Greece
 Experience World Cup predicts the final four teams will be: Spain, Germany, France, Russia.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Spain's David Villa Doubtful For Euro Cup

Barcelona player David Villa (C) is stretchered from the field during their semi-final football match against Al Sadd of the Club World Cup in Yokohama on December 15, 2011.
Spanish forward David Villa on Thursday broke his leg in Barcelona's World Club Cup semi-final match against Qatar's Al Sadd, and is now doubtful for Euro 2012.
Barca won the match 4-0, with two goals from Adriano and one apiece from Seydou Keita and Maxwell, and will face Brazilian team Santos in Sunday's final.

Villa was carried off the field after injuring himself during a challenge late in the first half of Thursday's match.

Dr. Pedro Guilen, one of Spain's leading specialists in football injuries, told Radio Marca that he thinks Villa will be out of action for around six months.

Guillen also said he was sure that Villa will miss the Euro 2012 tournament, to be held in Poland and Ukraine in June.

"I am convinced that he will not go (to Euro 2012)," said Guillen.

Meanwhile, Alfonso del Corral, the former head of Real Madrid's medical services, told radio station Cadena COPE that Villa will be out for six months "even as an optimistic prediction. This is the usual time frame for an injury like this."

Villa was important in Spain's triumphs at the 2010 World Cup and at Euro 2008.

"Bad news for David Villa and Barca, the striker's left tibia is fractured," Barca said on its Twitter feed.
Barca said that the Spain striker had been taken to Yokohama's Rosa Hospital for further tests. Barca coach Pep Guardiola said after the game that Villa will return to Barcelona as soon as possible for surgery.

Villa did not start for Barca in the 3-1 Clasico defeat of Real Madrid last Saturday, which had provoked speculation about his future at the club and rumours about a possible departure.
He had complained about pain in his left leg since November.

Villa, 30, joined Barca from Valencia in 2010. He started his career at local club Sporting Gijon, before moving on to Zaragoza then Valencia.

The striker might not be the only Barca player missing from the final, because South Americans Alexis Sanchez and Javier Mascherano both finished the semi-final with pulled muscles.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Crisis? What Crisis? FIFA Chief Refuses to Leave

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has shrugged off the corruption allegations engulfing football's governing body, denying the sport is in crisis and ruling out a new vote for the 2022 World Cup.

After days of widespread claims and counter-claims of corruption that saw two top officials suspended pending a bribery investigation, Blatter broke his silence in a stormy solo press conference at FIFA headquarters on Monday.

"Crisis, what is a crisis?" a clearly irritated Blatter said. "We are not in a crisis. We are only in some difficulties and these will be solved."

Blatter also rejected suggestions that the vote for the 2022 World Cup -- controversially awarded to the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar -- should be held again amid mounting allegations of bribery involving the bid.

"There is no issue for the World Cup in 2022," the 75-year-old Swiss said. "I believe that the decision taken for the World Cup in 2022 was done exactly in the same pattern and in the same way as the 2018 tournament."

Blatter was speaking two days before he is due to be re-elected unopposed by FIFA's congress following the stunning withdrawal of Qatari election rival Mohamed bin Hammam on Sunday.
Bin Hammam pulled out of the bitterly acrimonious election race just hours before FIFA's ethics committee suspended him and Jack Warner, the influential head of the Caribbean, North and Central American federation (CONCACAF).

Asian Football Confederation chief bin Hammam -- who has vowed to appeal his suspension -- and FIFA vice president Warner were accused of attempting to bribe voters in the election with cash payments of up to $40,000.

Blatter said the absence of bin Hammam from the election was no reason to postpone Wednesday's vote, where he will be seeking a final and fourth term following 13 years in power.

"If somebody wants to change something in the election on Wednesday, this is for the members of FIFA. It cannot be done by anybody else," said Blatter, who engaged in several testy exchanges with journalists during the press conference.

"We are not in a bazaar," he replied at one point as reporters shouted out questions to him.
Blatter's appearance followed another day of frenzied mud-slinging, where both Warner and bin Hammam railed against the leadership of the 75-year-old Swiss official.

"At the end of the day, Blatter has to be stopped," Warner said earlier, after accusing the FIFA chief of giving one regional confederation $1 million with no questions asked at a meeting earlier this month.
Warner also released an email from FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke in which the official said he believed Qatar had "bought" the hosting rights to the 2022 tournament, prompting a furious denial from Qatar's 2022 bid team.

"Qatar 2022 categorically deny any wrongdoing in connection with their winning bid," the bid committee said in a statement.

Valcke, who admitted sending the email, later said his comments had been misconstrued. "What I wanted to say is that the winning bid used their financial strength to lobby for support," he said in a statement.

He also rejected a suggestion by bin Hammam that he had had undue influence on the proceedings against him.

"It is fully incorrect -- and quite disappointing -- to say that I have an influence on the FIFA Ethics Committee and its proceedings," he said.

Bin Hammam meanwhile accused the corruption investigation facing him of being politically motivated as he confirmed plans to appeal.

"The way these proceedings have been conducted is absolutely not compliant with any principles of justice," bin Hammam said.

"I am punished before I am found guilty."

The recent revelations have stemmed from the race to host the 2018 and 2022 editions of the World Cup -- the globe's biggest sports extravaganza -- which were won by Russia and Qatar in December.
Two FIFA officials were suspended after a newspaper sting found they offered to sell their votes, while England's former 2018 bid chief said he witnessed "improper and unethical" behaviour by four FIFA voters, including Warner.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

FIFA follows Oil Money in 2018 & 2022

The big wins for Russia and Qatar - securing the right to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups - mirror the monumental shift from slow-growth, budget-choked developed economies to fast-growing, often resource-rich nations with deep global ambitions.

Thursday's awarding of the coveted hosting prize is not just an embarrassment for such traditional sports hosts as England and the United States, which trotted out Prince William and Bill Clinton, respectively, to jazz up their cause.

It's a reflection of the tilting of the world's power base into zippier emerging markets, as shown by the recent hosting of major events by China, South Africa and India, continuing with Brazil's hosting of the 2016 Olympics and World Cup in 2014, and now, on to Russia and Qatar.

This new world order as reflected by global sporting events would have been tough to imagine a decade or two ago, when most spectacles Ping-Ponged between Western Europe and North America. Economists have touted this shift for years, and now, it seems, the sports community is catching on.

The decision has huge symbolism, and benefits, on the geopolitical stage. No Eastern European or Middle Eastern country has hosted this kind of event before. For Russia, roiled by WikiLeaks allegations this week calling it a "virtual mafia state," the announcement could not have come at a better time. Qatar's surprise win, meantime, is expected to boost the profile of the whole region.
"If Qatar can pull it off, it can show the rest of the world that the Gulf region is about more than just the traditional image of very conservative, oil-rich countries where there's nothing but sand and a few high-rise buildings," said Jacob Kirkegaard, research fellow, economist and soccer fan at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics. "It's the branding of the broader Middle East."

Qatar is, indeed, trying to establish itself as a more moderate cultural force in a part of the world that, as WikiLeaks underscored, is replete with tension. And in the heated regional race for dominance against Dubai, "Qatar's probably feeling pretty smug today."

Several factors nudged the decision in favour of Russia and Qatar. One, FIFA is trying to shift the World Cup into new markets, moving away from traditional venues. As FIFA president Sepp Blatter said after the vote, "We go to new lands."

And two - setting both countries apart from their rivals - they had 100-per-cent government support, backed by gobs of cash, Mr. Kirkegaard points out. It's a contrast to most G8 countries, where governments are seriously distracted by deficit-cutting austerity measures.

Oil plays a big, if murky role in the next three successful bids. Brazil, Russia and Qatar are all hefty oil exporters, and that wealth, in good part, is helping them write the cheques. Brazil is spending $2.8-billion (U.S.) and Russia $3.82-billion. Tiny Qatar (population: 1.7 million, though expected to have the world's fastest-growing economy this year) is spending $3-billion for air-conditioned, zero-emissions stadiums - and is set to invest an eye-watering $100-billion in infrastructure in the next few years.

The announcement came amid plenty of fireworks, before and after. Last month, FIFA officials suspended and fined two executive committee members for voting on the 2018 and 2022 hosting amid allegations they had offered to sell their votes. On Thursday, meantime, the announcement of Qatar's victory over the mighty U.S. shocked many observers.

Yet the decisions are a reflection of the post-recession world. The BRIC term - for Brazil, Russia, India and China - coined by Goldman Sachs in 2001, has now entered the mainstream lexicon. With good reason - in the past decade, the four countries alone have contributed more than a third of global GDP growth, and now account for nearly a quarter of the world economy from one sixth, according to Goldman. It thinks that trend will get even more pronounced in the coming decade.

Now, the race is on to create a nifty new term. Goldman has identified the Next Eleven, 11 countries it figures have the potential to be among the world's largest economies, along with the BRICs - Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam.

Not to be outdone, the global bank HSBC has coined the CIVETS - not cats, but rather six countries poised to blast off in the next decade: Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa.

Not everyone's so sure that the BRIC acronym is still apt. A growing number of economists say Russia, blighted by corruption woes and a declining population, should be thrown out in favour of younger, thriving Indonesia (though, the term just doesn't have the same ring - BICI? ICIB?).
For now, victory is sweet for Russia, given many of the recent unsavoury headlines on bribery and organized crime. "A day for rejoicing," said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"We are building a new Russia ...we can achieve this better and quicker with your help," said First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

As for Qatar, citizens danced in the streets and blew vuvuzelas last night. The Emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, thanked FIFA for "believing in change."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sealing the World Cup With a Kiss

A fan’s remix of a post-game interview between Spain’s captain, Iker Casillas, and his girlfriend, Sara Carbonero on Sunday night,

Soon after Spain won the World Cup on Sunday in South Africa, the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco sent its star sideline reporter, Sara Carbonero, to interview the national team’s goalkeeper and captain, Iker Casillas — who also happens to be her boyfriend. The interview was a sequel of sorts to a far more awkward one between the journalist and the player after the team opened the tournament with a loss.

The earlier interview was at first little remarked in Spain, where both participants were judged to have acquitted themselves with professionalism. But, thanks to a poorly-sourced report in the British press, it soon sparked a wave of speculation in the English-speaking world about whether the goalkeeper’s fetching girlfriend was a distraction to the player — or “hen-pecking” him on camera — and so was to blame for the team’s loss.

Even though the Spanish press roundly denounced the reports by their British colleagues as “nonsense,” and defended Ms. Carbonero’s right to do her job despite her relationship with Spain’s captain, the idea that she was somehow at fault for Spain’s stuttering start to the tournament lingered for weeks.

So on Sunday night, Telecinco proudly posted an article on its Web site with video of their reporter’s post-game interview with her boyfriend, minutes after he had hoisted the World Cup above his head, which ended with a sudden kiss on the lips.

The soccer blog Kickette reports:

Basically, here’s the translation from Iker: he repeats how happy he is about 40,000 times before he thanks his parents, his (hot, younger, French-speaking) brother, and then pauses to shed a tear. After he collects himself he says, ‘and you’, before going in for the kill.

Telecinco explains that a shocked Ms. Carbonero, before regaining her composure and tossing back to her colleagues, could only respond, “madre mía,” — which is Spanish for “mama mia.”

So, a happy ending to one of the World Cup’s many subplots. In other news, the Spanish victory, coupled with Germany’s win in Saturday’s contest for third place, meant that “the Oracle of Obehausen,” Paul the octopus, finished the tournament with a perfect record having indicated which team would win before all eight matches he was consulted on.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Brazil Fires Dunga After Early Departure From World Cup

Dunga is out as coach of Brazil's national soccer team.

The coach and his staff were fired Sunday, two days after Brazil was beaten by the Netherlands in the World Cup quarterfinals.

The announcement was made by the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF). The decision was widely expected after the 2-1 loss to the Dutch. Brazil led 1-0 on Robinho's first-half goal, but allowed two goals and had a player sent off in a dismal second-half performance in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

"With the closing of the work cycle that started in August 2006 and ended with the elimination of Brazil from the World Cup in South Africa, the CBF announces the dismissal of the Technical Commission of the Brazilian team," the federation said in a statement.

A new coach will be appointed before the end of the month, CBF said.

Former Brazil player Mano Menezes, AC Milan coach Leonardo and Wanderley Luxemburgo are being mentioned as potential successors to Dunga.

Luiz Felipe Scolari, who coached Brazil to its fifth World Cup title in 2002, had been mentioned as a successor, but he has signed a two-year deal to be with the Brazilian club Palmeiras.

The new coach and his staff are likely to face several exhibition matches in the next few months and then the South American championship – the Copa America – in 2011 in Argentina.

Dunga returned to Brazil with the team early Sunday and was met with applause and cheering by fans in his native Porto Alegre in southern Brazil.