World Cup television coverage breaks viewing records
Japan’s clash against Ivory Coast was one of the most viewed games of the 2014 World Cup so far as television coverage shattered a host of records during the first round of group matches, FIFA said on Friday.
As many as 34.1 million viewers in Japan watched the team’s 2-1 defeat by the Ivorians on the NHK channel at 10 a.m. local time, while 42.9 million in Brazil saw the hosts beat Croatia 3-1 in the tournament’s opener on TV Globo.
The match between the US and Ghana was watched by 11.1 million on ESPN in the United States, setting a new record for ESPN coverage of a men’s World Cup match.
“These record-breaking figures show just how popular football and the FIFA World Cup is across the world, from Japan to Argentina,” said FIFA TV director Niclas Ericson.
“We are seeing highly encouraging growth in interest in markets such as the United States and Australia.”
England’s 2-1 defeat by Italy in the Amazon city of Manaus attracted 14.2 million on BBC 1 in the UK and 12.8 million on RAI 1, the highest TV audiences in both countries in 2014.
Germany’s ARD channel had 26.4 million watching the country’s 4-0 win over Portugal.
Brazil bemused by interview with ‘fake Scolari’
In the middle of a World Cup in Brazil, an exclusive interview with the coach of the country’s national team is probably one of the greatest scoops a Brazilian journalist could hope for.
So experienced columnist and TV presenter Mario Sergio Conti thought his luck was in last Wednesday, when he boarded a flight from Rio to Sao Paulo only to discover that Luiz Felipe Scolari, widely known in Brazil as Felipao, was sitting next to him.
The man answered some of his questions and an interview was published on the website of two of the leading newspapers in Brazil – Folha de S. Paulo and O Globo – where Conti writes occasional columns.
The problem was that the passenger at Conti’s side was not the real Scolari, but a look-a-like called Wladimir Palomo, who had gone to Rio to take part in a TV comedy programme – where naturally, he plays Scolari.
“Everything was a huge misunderstanding,” Palomo told the BBC on Friday.
He was travelling with a look-a-like of Brazil’s star forward Neymar – who was on the same flight – and whom the journalist also mistook for the real player.
After it emerged that the real Felipao had not left Fortaleza – where Brazil played against Mexico on Tuesday – the two newspapers had to apologise for the mistake.
Police smash major World Cup betting ring in Macau
Macau police have busted a bookmaking racket that allegedly took HK$5 billion ($645 million) in illegal bets – including a single HK$40 million bet – on World Cup football matches in a week, the South China Morning Post reported on Saturday.
Police have arrested 22 suspects from what they say is the biggest illicit football-betting ring uncovered in the gambling haven following a raid of a hotel on Thursday, the newspaper said.
The syndicate, operating out of three rooms in the hotel, took online bets and telephone orders from around the world, the report said.
Initial investigations showed that about HK$5 billion in World Cup bets had been taken and officers had found evidence of a single HK$40 million bet on one match, it cited Macau police spokesman Suen Kam-fai as saying.
Investigators seized more than HK$2 million in cash, along with 17 computers as well as more than 10mobile phones and betting slips from the rooms, the paper said.
Authorities in Macau, the world’s largest casino market, Hong Kong and the neighbouring province of Guangdong have been collaborating to crack down on illegal football betting in southern China since the World Cup kicked off in Brazil last week.
Hong Kong police have set up a task force with Macau and Guangdong authorities and are also working with Interpol across eight Asian countries to fight illegal betting during the World Cup, it said.
Over the past week, Hong Kong police have arrested 39 suspected illegal bookmakers and confiscated betting slips worth nearly HK$85 million, the report said. In the first four months of the year, records seized during raids on illegal bookies showed they had taken HK$54.2 million worth of bets on football.