Durban-based morning daily, The Mercury, has embraced the beautiful game, giving over its masthead to countries playing or staying in Durban over the World Cup.
The region's foremost daily English newspaper, The Mercury
, is giving readers and advertisers a 'head start' to the international football spectacle.
"KZN's got a 'dream draw'," says The Mercury
Editor, Angela Quintal. "Five of the world's top soccer nations with the best fans are playing in Durban - giving The Mercury
a strong dose of 'soccer fever' and an abundance of rich content on which to draw.
"Spain, Brazil, Netherlands, Portugal and Germany are playing first round matches at our magnificent Moses Mabhida stadium. Nigeria's Super Eagles may also spring a surprise.
"And, of course, we've got the group's hottest ticket - Portugal vs. Brazil - on June 25."
Excitement around the clash of these two Portuguese-speaking soccer giants is already high, tickets are scarce and, with Category 1 seats to give away, The Mercury
has a promotional coup.
"In addition to strong local support, Durban is going to be flooded with Portuguese and Brazilian fans and a large contingent of journalists feeding the soccer-crazy fans back home," says Quintal.
"I don't want to give too much away, but our edition on the day of the match is going to be a real celebration - for both English and Portuguese readers. There's a vibrant Portuguese community in Durban and we've had fantastic support from them," says Quintal.
"We've uncovered some fascinating links between our countries - for example, the celebrated nineteenth-century Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, had his first poem published in The Mercury
in the 1800s. There are numerous soccer players, coaches and team links we'll be investigating and, for a bit of fun, we'll be weighing up the talent on Durban's beaches against that spotted on the beaches of Ipanema," says Quintal.
As a popular, respected source of daily news and information, The Mercury
has given readers the heads up on the countries playing in Durban or staying in KwaZulu-Natal. Every Monday for 14 weeks, the title's masthead has been annexed by one of the countries.
"With an overview of the featured country's demographics, history, cuisine, famous soccer stars and their road to the World Cup, we have brought pupils, parents and teachers and those of our readers who are not necessarily soccer followers, into the fold," says Quintal.
The pages were particularly popular with schools, and The Mercury
is driving another project with the help of the World Association of Newspapers.
The World Football Reading Passport is an exciting project that will complement other education initiatives at Independent Newspapers.
It provides editorial content that allows our newspapers to stimulate young or new readers to read our editorial content and develop a deeper awareness of current events through an emphasis on the world's 'beautiful game'.
"As many a teacher and parent with young children will know and dread, the extra long holiday over the World Cup is going to be a challenge.
"How will they keep children occupied and off the streets and malls, or pry them away from the television? The Passport may just be the answer. Teachers in particular will be relieved that pupils will have an opportunity to learn without them thinking it's a drag."
Quintal says the World Cup has also given The Mercury
an opportunity to form new relationships. "We have partnered with the City and Gagasi FM, to give away a Jabulani ball every day for 100 days," says Quintal.The Mercury
has embraced the beautiful game and taken the opportunity to give the 157-year-old title an international flavour - to the benefit of both readers and advertisers.
During the tournament, The Mercury
's readers can look forward to guest editorials and content from a range of top international newspapers, including Spain's El Pais
, Switzerland's La Liberte
, Germany's Bild Zeitung
and Australia's Sydney Morning Herald