Thursday, 12 January 2012

World Cup lifesyle article in The Daily Yomiuri on 3rd June 2006

A strip to pay for--warming up for the World Cup
By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

The first soccer World Cup I can recall was in 1970 and, memorable as it was for the scintillating skills of perhaps the greatest Brazilian team to walk onto a football field, it was also notable for the relative lack of commercialism compared with modern times.

Tracking down a replica Brazil shirt proved impossible in my part of Britain at that time and the only solution was to customize a plain yellow top with a blue trim. Suffice to say, the result was less than satisfactory.

These days, such a task is considerably easier. The availability of an Angolan or Saudi Arabian top might still prove a little tough to obtain, but those of the major football nations, such as Brazil, England, Germany, Italy and, of course, Japan, are likely to fly off the shelves as fast as a Brazilian free kick hits the back of the net.

If you don't feel like shelling out for a new shirt, you can go window shopping at an exhibition of soccer strips at Parco department store's Logos Gallery, near Tokyo's Shibuya Station.

The National Team Uniform Collections is one of a number of World Cup-related attractions to whet the appetite of local football fans. The exhibition features the soccer strips and information relating to some of the teams participating in this year's World Cup.

Among the more notable exhibits are the colorful strips of teams debuting at this year's World Cup. A team badge is an essential part of any national shirt but Cote d'Ivoire will mark their first appearance at the finals by reminding the TV masses of their nickname by brandishing a large image of an elephant on their tops, while two other African newcomers, Ghana and Togo, have opted to display depictions of a black star and sparrow hawk, respectively.

Of the more familiar kits, one major difference sees Germany adopting red as their change strip.
It is rumored that coach Jurgen Klinsmann would like to see the away kit upgraded to the side's first choice, which throws up the prospect of an interesting sartorial role-reversal should they meet old rivals England in the knockout stage.

The exhibition was organized in collaboration with the publishers of World Soccer Collection 2006, a book about soccer strips that features a plethora of soccer data. The book, which is on sale at the exhibition, is mainly written in Japanese but the squad members' names are in Roman letters and the photographs speak for themselves.

Various soccer-related goods will be on sale at the exhibition, including T-shirts based on the playing tops of countries playing in the upcoming World Cup, but no official strips will be on sale.

If all this soccer strip viewing makes you feel in need of refreshment but you want to remain surrounded by soccer memorabilia, the Football Park Cafe is one place to head for--and there you can buy an official soccer strip for the World Cup so long as it's Japan's you're after.

The cafe is located in the Marunouchi building near JR Tokyo Station, and its enormous photograph of Japan national team captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto above the entrance leaves you in no doubt as to who is promoting the place.

Customers can choose to dine either inside or out on the terrace, surrounded by photographs and memorabilia of the popular Gamba Osaka player.

The cafe has a big screen and several smaller screens showing soccer action. Like the main event in Germany, the cafe will close its doors on July 9.

If all this viewing of soccer strips has made you decide to buy your favorite World Cup soccer strip after all, you'll probably find it at one of the nation's outlets of soccer shop Kamo along with various other World Cup-related goods such as bags and keyholders.

People still say that football is only a game but nowadays there's far more to it than that and the popularity of official merchandise shows that the commercial side of the FIFA World Cup is alive and kicking.

All that's necessary now is for the 32 teams involved to dish up a spectacle to match the pre-tournament hype and the amount of cash forked out on World Cup memorabilia.

Now how much was that Brazilian strip?

"National Team Uniform Collections" will run June 9-22, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. at Logos Gallery in Parco Part 1 department store, Shibuya, Tokyo, (03) 3496-1287; Football Park Cafe, will be open through July 9, 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. (until midnight on Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays), in the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo Station, Tokyo, (03) 5218-5508; Kamo Sports visit

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