The Japanese Bhoy done good | Readings for 27 November 2006

One of the Nakamura-inspired designs available from the Tokyo Celtic Supporters’ Club.

Tokyo | Shunsuke Nakamura‘s run of form, especially the winning free kick versus Manchester United in the Champions League group stage on Nov 21, has given a further boost to the Tokyo Celtic Supporters’ Club. Known as “Shun-chan,” Nakamura has received tribute with production of a Lego character and with frequent downloads of his face for use as an avatar on mobile phones. Celtic-watching venues include Paddy Foley’s bar in the Roppongi district in central Tokyo. Writes Julian Ryall:

The drinkers here are an odd mixture of expat Scots and Japanese football fans who have adopted Celtic as their team. There is not a single Rangers shirt to be seen. (Scotsman, 24 Nov 06)

Australia | The lowdown on Frank Lowy

Chairman of Football Federation Australia sees Canberra, Wollongong and North Queensland as sites for A-League expansion teams. The New Zealand representative, New Zealand Knights FC, struggles, but Lowy hopes to retain the league’s “international flavour.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Nov 06)

Iceland | The Vikings are coming

With the £85 million purchase of West Ham financed by Icelandic billionaire Björgólfur Guí°mundsson, the volcanic isle’s influence on UK life appears to be increasing. The most sparsely populated nation in Europe, with four-fifths of the territory uninhabited, has been pulling beyond its weight due to recent financial reforms and native creativity. Says Daisy Neijmann, Halldór Laxness Lecturer in Modern Icelandic Language and Literature at University College London:

Because it is an island nation on the periphery, Icelanders look at themselves differently. They are viewed as a bit eccentric by other nations and they are proud of that. It is a small society, which can be limiting, but it has always been outward looking. It is a mark of pride for Icelanders that they go out and achieve things, but they maintain strong bonds with home.

Yet riches may mean Iceland’s “exotic novelty” is wearing off. Sigrun Birgisdottir of the Icelandic Society in London says the West Ham deal got a “cooler reception” than, say, that granted Björk‘s latest release. (BBC, 23 Nov 06)

Bost

South Africa | 2010 in danger, warns US envoy

U.S. Ambassador Eric Bost says concerns over crime would limit visitors to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Admitting that he views issues “somewhat simplistically on occasion,” the envoy draws on anecdotal evidence to make his statements. Bost mentions a group of tour operators from Germany who became crime victims, then adds:

In the three and a half months that I have been here, I have never, ever seen a local police officer just drive through [my neighbourhood] in a car. I’m not there a lot, but on occasion you would think that just through happenstance you would see somebody—just once or twice. (Sunday Times, Johannesburg, 26 Nov 06)

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