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2010 World Cup Football South Africa Showcases Worldclass Black Talent

Yes, the world is in the throes of football fever. The 2010 FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) World Cup, which wows the world every four years, is now in its quarter-final stage and all bets are on to see who will win the final cup of this year. Will the indomitable Germans beat the resilient Argentinians or will the Netherlands surprise? The FIFA World Cup is arguably the most important and anticipated sporting event of all time. Two hundred and four nations attempted to qualify for thirty-two spots, with the United States qualifying for the first time in decades. The 2006 final between Italy and France was watched by an estimated 715 million people. With changing demographics and 21st century technology making borders all but obsolete, this year’s tally is anyone’s guess. Aficionados flock to stadiums, crowd around television sets, with gladiator-like fervor. Stories are invoked, wars fought, players pilloried and publicly chastised. Allegiances for players and countries are set in stone with blood and sweat.

It is universally known as “the beautiful game”, for its elegant simplicity, the divinely appointed athletic prowess of its players, and its appeal to the common man. Skill of the game, passion and enduring love for the game create a brotherhood that transcends sport. The unequaled and insane exhilaration of GOOOOOAAAL! Much like basketball, it elevates its gifted players to godhood status, while simultaneously connecting them with the mortals who live vicariously through them. More than any other sport, football is a great equaliser. Because it’s not mere skin color, nationality or club that can dictate ability or greatness. It is simply. A boy from a favela in Brazil with a devastating strike or from an obscure village in the Ivory Coast can become a striker for a world-class English club. A good number come from extremely difficult circumstances, where getting up by the bootstraps often means borrowing a pair of cleats and heading to a match on a dusty bowl. Today’s black footballers who come from distant countries to play in European clubs such as Inter Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United. But for the World Cup, they return to play only for their national team. That’s not to say that racism in football isn’t a serious problem. Fan taunts and behavior can be unspeakably ugly, cruel and primitive, coming from a contingent that remains stubbornly ignorant and primitive. The fact that the players consistently rise above this speaks to their personal strength and integrity. Gaming has become a way of life that can change the trajectory of lives and communities. Sky-high paychecks often come with high business endorsement from Nike, Gillette, and others. Players share their good fortune by making substantial donations to build hospitals, schools, and vital social service programs.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is the first to be played on the African continent and has the potential to change global perceptions on many levels. From the Africa Cup of Nations to the 2010 World Cup, footballers of African descent and nationality have warned the world that they are a force to be reckoned with. Ask Team USA.

And no self-respecting football fan ever calls it football. It’s football, now and always.

Here are eight of the best and brightest black football players in the world from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Samuel Eto’o

Country: Cameroon

Club: Inter Milan; Cameroon national team

Position: Striker

Payout: $12. 7 million

The world has been warned. By far one of the best left-backs in the world, Samuel Eto’o’s achievements are momentous for his country and his club. He epitomizes footballing excellence in the vein of great legends and has exceeded expectations at every club he has played for. His performances have always been excellent and he is currently the most decorated African player of all time, including African Player of the Year for three consecutive years. A goal-scoring machine, Eto’o scored more than 100 goals in five seasons with FC Barcelona. He is the captain of the Cameroon national team and currently the highest paid football player in Africa. He has appeared in two World Cups and five Africa Cups of Nations and is the all-time top scorer in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations (winning the league twice) with 18 goals. At the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Eto’o became co-top scorer

As a member of the Cameroon national team, he was a gold medalist at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Didier drogba:

Country: Ivory Coast/Ivory Coast

Club: Chelsea

Position: Striker

Earnings: $7.5 million Endorsements: Pepsi; Nike, Samsung

Tag the name because it’s the future of football. Don’t be fooled by Drogba’s late entry into the football arena, him into a powerhouse. Known for breaking through impregnable defences, Drogba is a goalkeeping nightmare. Signed by Chelsea for $37 million, he proved invaluable. He has scored more goals for the club than any other foreign player and is the 7th highest goalscorer of all time. the most promising African footballer, he is one of the best scorers in the Premier League. Captain and all-time top scorer for the Ivory Coast national football team, Drogba was signed to Chelsea for a club-record fee of £24m, making him the most expensive Ivorian player in the league. story. Drogba rose to prominence as one of the best strikers in the world in 2006 when he won the league title with Chelsea and captained the national team for the first time. During the 2006 World Cup, he scored the very first goal in the Ivorian competition and was voted African Footballer of the Year 2006. He is the only player to have scored in six FA Cup finals.

But much of that pales in comparison to his humanitarian work for his country. After Ivory Coast qualified for the 2006 World Cup, Drogba pleaded for a ceasefire between fighters in his country’s deadly 5-year civil war, which was honored soon after. In 2007, he was named a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and donated his $4.5 million signing fee for his endorsement of Pepsi for the construction of a hospital in his home town of Abidjan.

Maicon Douglas Sisenando

Country: Brazil

Club Team: Internazionale AKA Inter Milan

Position: Defender

Gain: $5.4 million

A gifted right-back and formidable full-back, Maicon is a phenomenon in Brazilian football – no easy feat. He excels in defensive plays and provides excellent support to his team. Maicon scored Brazil’s first goal in the 2010 World Cup – a tight angle shot – against Korea in their first match. Maicon’s contribution to Inter Milan included unwavering defensive and attacking support, putting him in contention for the 2010 Ballon d’Or, the award for European Footballer of the Year. In a nod to his prowess, Real Madrid recently paid £28million for him to join their club.

Patrice Eva:

Country: France

Club team: Manchester United

Position: Defender, Full-back; french captain

Earnings: $4 million

Evra is her own version of the United Nations. Born in Senegal of Guinean origin and French nationality, he is one of Manchester United’s most valuable players and curiously, captain of the France team. Arguably one of the best left backs in the world and a wicked left winger, Evra has won Premier League and Champions League titles with Manchester United. During United’s 07-08 season, Evra became a key member of United’s defence. But it is not without controversy. Following the dismissal of his teammate, Nicolas Anelka from the team after his fight with coach Raymond Domenech, Evra led a player mutiny against the decision and publicly denounced the coach. As a result, Evra was benched for the final game against South Africa. Despite everything, he returned to a very distinguished career.

Thierry Henry

Country: France

Club team: Barcelona; French team

Position: Striker

Earnings: Annual salary plus bonus: $6.2 million, Other income: $6.2 million

Approvals: Pepsi, Gilette, Reebok

He is one of football’s most recognized and praised players and certainly a worthy accolade for one of the sport’s most prominent strikers. During his meteoric rise at Arsenal, the phenomenal Henry became top scorer almost every season with 226 goals in all competitions. The phenomenal Frenchman has won two league titles and three FA Cups and was twice nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year award. Possessing devastating speed and superhero agility, he remains Europe’s all-time top scorer with 42 goals with a flair for impossible and dramatic goals. Despite the controversy surrounding Henry’s propensity to use his hand to score a goal, he is a footballing institution that has elevated the sport to art.

Nicolas Anelka

Country: France

Club team: Chelsea (ENG); French team

Position: Striker

Earnings: $5.8 million Endorsements: Puma

Although his petulance rivals his potential, Anelka has shown enormous potential as a striker. A relentless goalscorer who is lightning fast with superb control, Anelka’s goal helped France win their World Cup match against Ireland. His three-and-a-half-year contract and reported fee means more money has been spent on Nicolas’ transfer during his career than any other player in football history.

Sully Muntari Country: Ghana

Club team: Internazionale AKA Inter Milan

Position: Midfielder

Earnings: $5.3 million, endorsements: Puma

If Ghana win the World Cup, you can bet Muntari will be instrumental in their victory. A footballing prodigy, Muntari was just 16 when he played for Ghana in the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina. He was voted star player at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Ghana.

Yaya Toure

Ivory Coast

Club team: Barcelona

Position: Midfielder

Prize: $3.7 million

Toure’s titanic stature and boundless energy combine to make him one of the finest midfielders in modern football, with a perfect combination of physical power and superb technique. He is the first Ivorian player to win the UEFA Champions League, in 2008/09, and one of the driving forces behind the team which rewrote footballing history by winning six trophies in a single season. He was recently transferred from Barcelona to Manchester City for £25m, where he will join his brother, brother and club captain Kolo. He was a powerful midfielder for his native Ivory Coast, which made its first appearance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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