Leipzig, Germany | Each window of the world’s largest free-standing Advent calendar, this year devoted to the World Cup, covers some six square meters. The calendar has entered the Guinness Book of World Records since being erected in 1997. The World Cup draw on Dec 9, too, seemed larger than life, with celebrities selecting teams and group positions from freshly Windexed goblets. The stars even caught some flak for making poor selections. Lotthar Matthäus, coach of Hungary and former German international, had to defend himself against charges that he had participated in a rigged draw for Group E. Italian broadcaster Sky Italia theorized that the balls in Matthäus’s goblet had been temperature-varied to enable selection of the United States for the final group slot, ensuring the Italians a so-called Group of Death (Ger., Todesgruppe) with the Czech Republic and Ghana.
Belgrade daily Blic would not let model Heidi Klum forget that she had her mitts on Serbia and Montenegro’s fortunes as it was placed in Group C with Argentina, Côte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands. The Serbians had merited special treatment with placement in Pot “X,” given their status as the tournament’s lowest-ranked European side. “Heidi Klum has sent us to hell,” the Belgrade paper said.
The media also took interest in the seemingly inevitable matchups between colonizer and the once-colonized. Andrew O’Hehir of online magazine Salon branded France–Senegal in the 2002 opener the Frantz Fanon Cup, with a nod to the Martinique-born author of Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth. Portugal vs. Angola in Group D, O’Hehir writes, “has the potential to be one of the ugliest colonial-oppressor-vs.-former-colony matches in soccer history.”