When soccer takes centre stage

HARARE - The current Brazil World Cup tournament will affect the social life of many Zimbabwean households, for better or for worse, depending on which side you are on.

Every four years, Zimbabweans go crazy when it is time for the soccer World Cup, with life literally changing. For a whole month, lifestyles are dependent on what is happening in the host country.

Popular among Zimbabweans, this particular tournament will be different, because it is happening in Brazil, literally the other side of the world, which have seen many of the games starting very late due to different time zones.

This means the majority of those who watch soccer, will not have excuses to disappear for long periods on end, with the excuse that they were watching World Cup matches with the boys!
Some of the really big games, and most of those featuring African teams, will start late.

If times were normal with the matches happening late afternoon, local bars would be filled with fans singing and chanting in their native languages, cheering as if they were in the stadium. But these are spectators watching the game from thousands of kilometres away.

The pubs will be affected by the match time schedules as not many will be willing to stay the whole night. Watching soccer away from home, with this biting cold weather is unconformable.

The time difference between Zimbabwe and Brazil means Zimbabwean fans will have to stay up until morning, a situation that will result in bleary eyes as they have to report for work or school, what with 43 of the 64 matches taking place during weekdays.

But on a positive note, the local screening times will result in fewer fights over television channels as the World Cup shares the stage with other world class events such as the NBA Playoffs, X Games, US Open Golf and Wimbledon.

In households, there are others who do not like soccer and enjoy watching soapies and African movies, but luckily, most would have retired to bed by the time the matches are screened.

The popular television soap Big Brother Africa (BBA) 2014, which was supposed to be happening now, has been moved to September to accommodate the Fifa World Cup.

Liz Dziva, Multichoice Zimbabwe’s public relations and publicity manager, says organisers of Africa’s most popular reality TV show did not want it to clash with the World Cup.

They decided to move the show (BBA) because holding it at the same time as the World Cup would affect viewership.

With all 64 World Cup soccer matches airing live, a lot of soccer fans will relocate with their blankets to the television room. So it might prove to be a very cold night for most wives.

In several well-to-do households, larger screens have been bought. Just like in 2010 when high definition decoders were sold out, the trend is repeating.

While Zimbabweans would be enjoying watching the tournament from whichever venue they so wish, World Cup screening venues in 10 countries — Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Iraq, Tanzania, Uganda, Djibouti, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tunisia — face risk of attack, according to Robert Besseling, the lead Africa analyst at the consulting firm IHS Country Risk.

Besseling wrote that there will “almost certainly” be attacks in Nigeria and that “the most likely locations where foreigners will be targeted are Kenya and Tanzania.”

The US embassy in Kenya this month warned its citizens to “exercise caution” at venues with World Cup crowds in the country, which has seen a sharp rise in militant attacks.The British government warned that in Nigeria “terrorists have previously targeted places where football matches are being viewed.”"

Ugandan police and the US Embassy in Kampala have issued alerts about impending attacks.

Ugandan authorities are urging vigilance, and police have been visiting sports bars to check on security measures. Some places were found to have lax security and were threatened with closure, said police spokesman Fred Enanga.

In Nigeria, Defence ministry spokesperson Major General Chris Olukolade said citizens should look out for strange parcels or objects.

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