2,063 goals, but this was the first | Readings for 17 November 2006

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Barrio Pocitos in 1930. (puntavip.com)

Montevideo, Uruguay | Plying press reports, meteorological data and memory, researchers have determined the precise spot where the first World Cup goal was scored in Estadio Pocitos on 13 July 1930. Artists plan a memorial for the site, now unrecognizable as a football ground due to the housing that covers this barrio alongside the Rio de la Plata estuary. Lucien Laurent of France scored the first goal, on a cross from Ernest Liberati, at approximately 3:19 p.m. France defeated Mexico 4–1. Laurent beat the Mexico players to the goal (2,063 goals have been scored in World Cups through 2006), as well as players from Belgium and the United States, who were competing simultaneously at Parque Central.

Daniel Schweimler, the BBC reporter, stands on the spot from which Laurent struck. “A little old lady,” he says, “has just asked me to stop blocking the pavement.” (BBC World Football, 11 Nov 06; the link is to an audio file, available through Nov 17, with the Uruguay segment beginning at the 19-minute mark)

South Africa | World Cup airport ‘threatens swallow population’

Barn swallow

Construction of King Shaka International Airport outside Durban, part of plans for the 2010 World Cup, would threaten millions of barn swallows as well as lesser kestrels, corncrakes and crowned eagles who congregate in a nearby reedbed, according to environmentalists. Due to hazards the birds would pose to air traffic, the reedbed likely would be destroyed. The project is scheduled to begin in 2007.

Each evening the birds swoop and dive over the 250 sq metre area in the province of KwaZulu Natal in eastern South Africa, before plunging down to night-time safety in dense vegetation. Their performance is considered one of the best wildlife spectacles in South Africa. (Guardian, 16 Nov 06)

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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