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Uruguay were once the greatest force in world football, revolutionising the way the sport was played, and putting South America on the map in the 1920s and 1930s. They remain the smallest country to ever win the World Cup, with a population under four million.
I have a long-held desire to visit the crumbling but historic Estadio Centenario, the stadium in Montevideo that played host to the first ever World Cup final in 1930, in the 100th year of Uruguayan independence, as Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2, sparking off days of wild celebration.
And the now rather decrepit Estadio Centenario is where tonight 60,000 will pack in for the visit of Argentina in a winner-takes-a-ticket-to-the-World-Cup contest. 3,000 Argentinian fans will cross the sliver of the River Plate separating the two countries, from a nation with ten times the population and one which in the decades since their famous early footballing clashes has come to dominate football in South America, Brazil aside, as Uruguay have fallen off the map.
But even Brazil have won only twice in twenty-odd games at the Estadio Centenario and Uruguay have won four Copa Americas finals at the stadium over the decades since 1930. I for one hope this proud football nation and historic venue has one more glory night in it, and sends Diego and the mess he’s made of Argentina packing to the playoffs.
- Given the amount of money in top-flight English football, and the further benefits to the profile of the game and elite infrastructure a successful World Cup by England would bring, doesn’t it seem awfully greedy for the World Cup Bid Committee to be complaining the British government is only giving them £2.5m towards the bid, instead of the £5m they had apparently been promised? Surely private finance could fund the entire bid. Meanwhile, the Bid Committee seems to think adding diversity is as simple as employing a pornographer’s long-time right-hand woman (who was also last year arrested for fraud, but later cleared): Karren Brady hitches on board.
- The terrible news of US forward Charlie Davies’ injuries from a car crash yesterday was weird in many ways. For those of us who follow a number of US-based soccer friends on Twitter, the flood of instant news, sorrowful updates, rumours, and links was almost overwhelming throughout the day — even before blogs, let alone mainstream media, had time to comment (indeed, reporters broke the news first via tweets). 99.99% reflected genuine concern and a touching feeling of community over the tragedy. Perhaps most strange, though, were the brief, sad updates from Davies’ friends on Twitter — players hearing the same news at the same time and reflecting their shock. An odd experience, and I felt I was intruding on something at times following along.
- Turns out the rumour that Sven was set to manage North Korea at the 2010 World Cup is not going to happen. Still, the news stayed alive long enough for the Telegraph to put together its list of the top ten weirdest appointments of all time.
- The U-20 World Cup on Friday looks set to be a cracker, with the tournament’s most exciting teams, Ghana and Brazil, making the final. 101 Great Goals has an excellent preview.
- How high can MLS ticket prices go, asks Fake Sigi, given the need for the league to raise revenue without scaring everyone away? Good question, but considering a scary proportion of the attendees at most MLS games are comps anyway, perhaps the key is to start selling more tickets at some price rather than raising prices, meaning those who are already paying aren’t always subsidising the entire event for others.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.