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South American soccer success didn't happen overnight

Augusto Palacios, the Peruvian-born director of youth development for one of South Africa's oldest and most popular teams, says South America has an advantage because it nurtures young talent.

July 02, 2010|By Kevin Baxter and Grahame L. Jones

Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa and Cape Town, South Africa —Augusto Palacios, the Peruvian-born director of youth development for the Orlando Pirates, one of South Africa's oldest and most popular soccer teams, says the success of South American teams in this World Cup isn't something that happened overnight.

Instead, it's the result of years of nurturing young talent. And until other countries emulate that, South America will always have an advantage, he said.

All five of South America's entrants in this World Cup advanced out of group play, four of them made the quarterfinals and three of the four spots in the semifinals will go to teams from the continent if Argentina and Paraguay win their matches Saturday.

Palacios said one reason is many of the players on those teams have been participating in organized soccer since they were 6 years old.

"Football is our food," Palacios told South African journalist Linda Moreotsene. "Coaching kids is a full-time job in South America. It is all taken very seriously."

In many South American countries the national team provides players with a platform to showcase their skills, often leading to lucrative contracts overseas.

Let the Games begin

Buoyed by his country's experience in playing host to the World Cup, President Jacob Zuma again strongly hinted that South Africa is considering a bid for the Olympics.

"I don't see why we can't bid to host the Olympics," Zuma said Friday on FIFA's website. "People are already talking about a possibility of bidding for [other] major events and we are supporting this. The Olympics are an example."

Zuma said South Africa has the resources and infrastructure and an Olympic bid is "important for Africa."

Cape Town missed out on the 2004 Games in a vote held in 1997. The South African city came in third behind winner Athens and Rome.

Preliminary bids for 2020 Games, the next to be awarded, must be submitted next year, with the International Olympic Committee selecting the host city in 2013.

Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are potential bid cities. Durban will stage the 123rd IOC session in July 2011, where the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics will be announced.

So far Rome is the only city to formally say it will bid for the 2020 Summer Games.

Hilton arrest

Shortly after Paris Hilton arrived in South Africa for the World Cup, she found herself in a Port Elizabeth courtroom after being detained for suspicion of marijuana possession, according to news reports.

A local radio station in Johannesburg said Hilton was detained outside the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium following the quarterfinal match Friday between Brazil and Netherlands.

A police officer said Hilton was caught with an unspecified amount of marijuana. She appeared in court late Friday before being led away.

Times wire services contributed to this story.

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