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The Ball 2002 is kicked over the Great Wall of China on its way to Korea & Japan

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Hello from Japan from Oz

A word from your England correspondent making his maiden speech all the way from Cairns, Australia.

After arriving in Japan tired, ticketless and homeless, I was immediately buoyed by learning that the French had been beaten by Senegal. From that moment on started an eighteen day rollercoaster ride of Japanese culture and a feast of football that is the World Cup.

Fast forwarding two weeks from my arrival, the England bug has found it’s way into my system after managing to see two out of the three England games – but would I get to Saturday night’s match against Denmark?

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The Great Firewall of China

From now on, Beijing will not encourage the development of internet bars
Mayor Liu Qi

Sad news today… the internet cafes which helped us create and maintain this site in China are closed or about to close as a result of a fire in a PC bar in Beijing. So I guess this’ll be one of the last messages I can get through to all the good people we met in the “People’s” Republic. See you on the other side of the firewall, my friends…

Read the BBC news report here, or if you live in China (where the BBC’s site is blocked) email me and I’ll send you a copy.

There is nothing like the World Cup

There is nothing like the World Cup to bring out the xenophobe in even the most enlightened of us. The classic always used to be that African teams were “defensively naive,” with additions, famously from Big Ron who was standing in for HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. With a new century comes another classic. Orientals are short. During a Reith Lecture I heard on the radio the other day, one that was occasionally interrupted by the commentary on some match featuring the Belgiums (sic), I learnt that the entire population of the Orient, if stood on one another’s shoulders would not be as tall as Jan Koller. So join in and start slagging the world…

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Hangin’ in Hangzhou

Rob Davis reports on the World Cup opening from Hangzhou, China:

It was a warm evening in Hagzhou last night as I set out to get some measure of China’s reaction to the World Cup opening in this scenic town two hours South of Shanghai. The lake around which the town was built has inspired many great Chinese poets and writers over the years – would it have inspired a similar fondness for football?

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In defence… of the Birthplace of Football

don't watch the adverts
If you watch the games, don’t watch the adverts

As an aside to our trip, but of significant consequence to it, I’d like to mention the Football Fan’s Union and their campaign to ‘Can the Commercials‘. It seems that as many as 30 English football clubs face ruin because the Football League are owed UKP178.5million by ITV Digital. So if you watch the Opening Ceremony in England, don’t watch the adverts, but do go to the site and register your support. Simple as that.

Rob signing in!

Hello everyone from Rob – the infamous Battersea Park football fouler.

Chris adds: here’s an action replay, as if you needed reminding ;-)

The Infamous Battersea Park Fouler about to get his name
The Infamous Battersea Park Fouler about to get his name

The Infamous Battersea Park Fouler's destiny is decided
The Infamous Battersea Park Fouler’s destiny is decided

I’m currently packing my bags to join Phil and Chris in Xiahe, near Lanzhou. I’ve already had my first taste of Chinese officialdom facing the stern woman behind the glass at the Chinese Embassy in London last Thursday morning. She grabbed my forms without a word and refused to answer any of my questions about bits of the visa application form I couldn’t complete. As I left the embassy to wait two hours for them to express process my application, I met three travellers on the steps who had been refused a visa, despite having submitted airline tickets, full itinery and contacts in China. I hadn’t submitted any of this information; I hadn’t even bought a flight yet, so I wasn’t very hopeful.

I returned two hours later to face another stern woman behind glass and…

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The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.