Take this job and ...
A city councilor in the city of Torreon resigned after being given an ultimatum over the World Cup by the city mayor, according to local press reports. Director of Public Services of Torreon, Alejandro Diez Bracho, has held his position since January and only had a week's holiday available to him. "He decided to go for more time. We said he could only go for one week and if he wanted to go for longer he would have to resign," Torreon Mayor Jose Angel Perez said. "I am also a football fan but I wouldn't abandon the citizens because of it," he added.
■ South Africa
Mbeki hot under the collar
South African President Thabo Mbeki accused his country on Friday of "trivializing sport," which in turn had led to the national soccer team's recent dismal performances. South Africa, who host the 2010 World Cup, failed to qualify for this year's tournament and were then humiliated in the African Nations Cup in Egypt. "We should, at last, stop trivializing sport, very wrongly treating it as frivolous and unimportant," Mbeki said in a weekly newsletter posted on the Web site of the African National Congress party.
Too much vodka?
Russia may not have qualified this year but 6 percent of Russians are confident nonetheless that their country will emerge victorious at this year's World Cup, according to a recent poll. Asked which country they expected to win, 10 percent of those surveyed put Brazil at the top of the list, followed by 6 percent who said Russia would win the tournament. Four percent backed Germany, while England and Spain each got 1 percent, according to the nationwide survey of 1,600 adult Russians conducted from May 19 to 22 by the respected Levada Center.
President soothes Ronaldo
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sought on Friday to heal any bad feelings over his query about the weight of the country's star striker, Ronaldo. Lula sent a letter by fax to Ronaldo in Germany, "reaffirming his affection for the player," and saying he is "cheering for him," a source in Lula's office said. The spat began on Thursday when Lula indelicately inquired of Brazil's coach Carlos Pereira via videoconference about Ronaldo's weight. Ronaldo said earlier on Friday: "Just as he says I'm fat, everybody knows he drinks too much.