|Left to Right: Peter Clottey, Joao Santarita, Andre Mendes, and Sonny Young discuss the World Cup on Penalty Box|
The new program is called Penalty Box. It features ardent soccer lovers from VOA's language services, diehard fans from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, all of whom will be rooting for their native teams. With its different hosts and many different perspectives, Penalty Box offers a broad range of analysis and opinions - and plenty of passionate debate. The show is recorded in a small makeshift studio - "It really is a box," says Penalty Box creator Amish Srivastava - and the set is also rather makeshift, being decorated with soccer jerseys, trophies, and other memorabilia donated by VOA staffers. In addition to English, the show is also recorded in Bangla, Pashto/Dari, Portuguese, and Swahili, making it just about as international as the game itself.
Even before the World Cup began, Penalty Box was making quite a splash, with several affiliates picking up the weekly segment, including DESH TV in Bangladesh, and Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) in Afghanistan. Penalty Box episodes are also available online and on mobile.
Soccer fever in Africa is running high this World Cup with teams from Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Algeria vying to advance further than any other Africa team ever has. VOA's Africa and English Divisions have caught the fever too. They have launched two mobile sites exclusively dedicated to covering the Cup. The sites feature original reporting from Brazil by VOA French sports journalist Nicolas Pinault as well as plenty of soccer facts and figures about the World Cup. The French and English sites target younger soccer fans with on-the-go stories tailored to the mobile lifestyle, so they can follow all things Brazil 2014 on VOA.
Let the Games begin!