As the World Cup gets underway and helps to define a new era for South Africa (and even the entire continent), it's tough not to get swept up in the international excitement surrounding football's biggest event. Tim Yu, our man on the ground, reports a three-hour walk through standstill traffic in Johannesburg to get to the opening game today, and that the sound of vuvuzelas is "everywhere and overwhelming."
To read more up-to-the-second news online, we recommend this well-organized Twitter site (which also has schedules for all the matches), but—in addition to our earlier round-up of the products and goings-on—learn more about our favorite great ideas inspired by this awesome cultural moment below.
1. World Cup Flashbacks
Online travel mag Wejetset leads us to the inspirational football photo archive from National Geographic, who remind us of the innocence and enjoyment the competitive sport brings to so many around the world.
2. World Cup Poster
Injecting bright colors into the oft-boring brackets filled out by attentive fans, designer David Watson's bold poster allows for even more fun while tracking the leading teams. Pointed out by Wallpaper Mag, the poster sells for £7 with proceeds benefiting Soccer Aid, a British charity raising money for Unicef.
3. Vuvuzela 2010
A simple, to-the-point free iPhone app, Vuvuzela 2010 channels the traditional blowing horn flooding the football arenas of South Africa. Pick a uniform color and tap the horn for a surprisingly loud digital cheering effect.
4. Video of the World Cup Underwear Shoot for Vanity Fair
Nine World Cup Adonises reveal what's under their football kits in a flag-inspired underwear spread for Vanity Fair. A bonus video goes behind the scenes of the Annie Leibovitz shoot.
5. Atypyk Non-Official Soccer Ball
Known for its cleverly unconventional product design, France's Atypyk remakes the World Cup soccer ball as a sphere divided in black and white.
6. Zon Human LCD Screen
Putting "the wave" to shame, 1,300 football spectators in a Portuguese commercialfrom Zon form a human LCD screen, switching into various World Cup team jerseys to change colors and formations.
7. Diem Chau
Following their highly successful "Write the Future" campaign video, W+K for Nike have now teamed up with artist Diem Chau in order to create this year's World Cup press kits. Each of the 11 kits features miniature models of six of the sport's biggest stars, all hand-carved out of Crayola crayons.
8. ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup App
With the 2.0 version of ESPN's World Cup App, keeping up with the tournament sans TV becomes even easier. Featuring news and descriptions of every World Cup in history, as well as every current player, along with live commentary and video highlights, this app is worth the $8 it costs on iTunes. Thanks to Trend Central for spotting the upgrade.
9. South Africa
For the past six years, South Africa has been preparing for the next month. Until 11 July 2010, the country represented by team Bafana Bafana will be hosting the FIFA World Cup, but the celebration is not limited to the next 30 or so days. In the past six years, since South Africa was chosen to be host of the tournament for 2010, they have built or renovated ten soccer stadiums, tirelessly rehearsed the Opening Ceremony, and celebrated with performances, parades, and plenty of vuvuzelas.
Reminiscent of the ever-parodied John & Paul & Ringo & George t-shirt by Experimental Jetset, Didi has created a new series of tees fitting for any World Cup fan. Featuring popular teams such as USA, Italy, England and Brazil, each shirt comes in flag-appropriate colors, listing the names of six or so of their more famous players. Tees sell for $20 each on Didi's website.
11. The Beauty of Jozi
Mpumi Mcata of South African band the BLK JKS shares his favorite things to see and do in Johannesburg—one of this year's World Cup hosts—with
Theme magazine, including tips like spots with free Wi-Fi and what to do if you have only 24 hours there.
12. Edun "Grow to Sew"
Edun commemorates the World Cup 2010 with their "Grow to Sew" collection, a special-edition line of graphic tees that benefits organic-cotton farming in Uganda.
13. World in Motion
The folks over at It's Nice That remind the world of New Order's 1990 hit "World in Motion." Originally produced for England's 1990 World Cup campaign, the song features several of the squad's original players, as well as game highlights in the video.
14. Arktip x Chinatown Soccer Club
The newest issue of the art magazine Arktip celebrates the 2010 World Cup with help from the Chinatown Soccer Club of NYC and its members' passion for the sport. The club members, which meet year-round in Chinatown for informal matches, show their team pride and love of soccer over the course of 160+ artfully shot and designed pages.
PostCarden, the company responsible for bringing green plant gardens to the world of greeting cards, has also caught World Cup fever. The newest soccer-inspired card features a retro cover and opens to a mini-green soccer field, complete with flickable ball and pop-up goal.
16. The WAGs of the World Cup Slideshow
A racy slideshow on UrbanDaddy shows that the wives and girlfriends of World Cup players are just as fit as their athletic counterparts.