The Copa of Eastern Promise

One of the most interesting things about the Copa America is how it attracts attention from the oddest places. There are an incredible 7000 journalists accredited for this tournament and some of them come from nations with little or no footballing culture.

The Chinese Xinhua Agency has 11 people here, which may not be that surprising given that they have hundreds of millions of readers. But there are also hacks from countries with no links to the tournament, places like Egypt, Denmark, Scotland and Thailand.

“This tournament is attractive to us because it is one in which teams still attack,” said Akaraj Nitikutskul, one of three multimedia reporters here with the Siam Sports Agency. “In Europe the tactics make a lot of the games boring. Just look at Italy, they are world champions but they are very defensive. Football should be entertaining and here it is.”

The always organised Asians are a little overwhelmed by the chaos, heat and noise that is Venezuela.

“The organization is, er, confused and unsatisfactory” said Xinhua’s Zheng Jiandong, who is staying in a mobile trailer because there are not enough hotel rooms to go round. “It is intense and huge and difficult.”

However, Jiandong is lucky, he has flights to see some of the other games. Many reporters have been unable to find transport and the large distances between venues makes traveling by road difficult.

Luckily, the football on offer has so far served to ameliorate any discontent about the facilities.


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