South America is making a statement this FIFA World Cup. Chile is 2-0-0, eliminating Spain 2-0 in its latest victory. Colombia is 2-0-0 with a goal differential of +4. Argentina is 1-0-0 and host Brazil has a win and a draw. Uruguay has one win and one loss, but its victory Thursday came in dramatic fashion over soccer powerhouse England. Ecuador has a one loss in one match, but if it can straighten its game out, South America could have all six competitors reach the knockout stage.

With the FIFA World Cup being played in South America, it is perhaps no surprise the host continent is thriving, and massive in-stadium fan support also should not be a surprise.

But the road for World Cup fans has not been easy this first week of action. The hotels of Brazil, many of which are being primed for the 2016 Summer Olympics, are constantly running out of space.

Chile's significant edge in fan support against Spain was mentioned on-air by ESPN's Ian Darke, although some went too far with their enthusiasm when they stormed the press center. An estimated 20,000 Chileans fans saw the team's 3-1 victory over Australia on June 13, and likely a larger contingent showed up for the Spain win.

A further example of their dedication is that about 3,000 of these Chilean fans are staying at a campsite, according to The Washington Post. The Chilean supporters came together on Facebook to form the camp in Cuiabá, the Brazilian city where the team is based. (During the World Cup, teams are assigned cities for training in between games).

South Africa had 309,000 foreign tourists for the 2010 World Cup. Given its relative proximity to soccer-mad nations, Brazil is expecting 600,000, and the chaos is leaving some people in the dust.

Along with camping, some of which has been done on the beach, foreign fans have taken to living in hostels, renting houses and renting apartments. Former Brazil National Team star Ronaldinho put his Rio de Janeiro mansion up for $15,000 a night.

Airbnb, the Internet service that links travelers with hosts offering rooms, apartments and houses, is now a large part of the World Cup experience. Airbnb says it will host 120,000 tourists from more than 100 different countries.

This all comes in a city that had a 2012 murder rate of 25.2 per 100,000. In comparison, the U.S. rate is 4.7 per 100,000.

As for the connection to the pitch, having fans in the stadiums cannot hurt. In addition to the success of the South American nations, CONCACAF –- North American/Central American -– teams are off to a good start, as well. The United States, Mexico and Costa Rica have already won a match.

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A recent Pew Research Poll showed that six out of 10 Brazilians are against the idea of their country hosting the World Cup, largely because of the waste involved in the preparation.

Brazil has spent a total of $11.5 billion on stadium and other infrastructure construction, with little return on investment. Only one quarter of a $1.3 billion international terminal at Sao Paulo's Guarulhos Airport is operational, according to Brazilian officials.

The travel problems do not stop at the airport. Find a taxi in Brazil requires waiting up to two hours outside of Guarulhos. The waiting times for taxis has drastically increased due to a strike by Transit Union subway workers.

The strike, which has already lasted five days, could continue past the opening ceremonies of the World Cup. The Transit Union initiated the strike after demands for increased pay were ignored by the government. The negotiations between the government and union officials broke down after 42 workers were fired on Monday. The union then scheduled a vote Wednesday on whether continue the strike Thursday, the opening day of the World Cup.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the state government would add more buses to offset the effect of a subway strike.

Sao Paulo is not the only Brazilian host city to suffer unrest due to strikes and riots. Rio de Janeiro metro workers have also threatened to walk off the job unless their demands for higher pay are met. In Recife, the host city where the United States will conclude the group stage against Germany, police walked off the job. This caused riots and looting until the police returned three days later.

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Brazilian surfing champion Maya Gabeira has joined the campaign to prevent further pollution of the ocean. Gabeira, who has been featured in ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue," released a public service announcement with Oceana, the largest international ocean conservation organization. The theme is for everyone to help the "oceans catch a break."

Here is more of Gabeira's story in her own words:

For more information, check out the Oceana website.

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Consider this itinerary: Playing a soccer game in Italy. Driving to airport in Milan. Flying to London. Changing flights and flying to Boston. Not bad if you have one week to complete the journey. But what if you had just 24 hours? And you had to play another game as soon you landed in Boston?

Former U.S. national team soccer star Alexi Lalas logged lots of miles during his career, but this might have been his craziest trip. He played for his Italian club team, Padova, on the front end, and then represented his country against Nigeria in the 1995 U.S. Cup. Lalas made it to Foxboro Stadium in time to play the second half.

"One of those memorable and epic trips that I think about," Lalas told ThePostGame. "I don’t recommend it."

At least Lalas got a ride from Massachusetts state troopers in a police cruiser from the airport to the stadium. Most travelers don't have that luxury. But Lalas also couldn't sink into a nice soft bed immediately after his trip because he had to compete first. It's having personal experiences such as this one that makes Lalas a nice fit for Marriott's Defenders of Travel campaign, which pegged around the U.S. national team and the World Cup.

"I spent most of my life traveling when I was a player or now with ESPN," Lalas said. "It’s what I do."

Marriott isn't an official World Cup sponsor. But it is the official hotel sponsor of U.S. Soccer, and the company hopes to capitalize on the increased interest in the sport during the tournament.

“I partner with people that recognize the power of soccer and have a passion for it," Lalas said, "and Marriott fits that bill."

As part of the campaign, Lalas and Omar Gonzalez, who could be playing for the U.S. at the World Cup, will be asking fans to share their favorite travel experiences on social media using the hashtag #TravelVictories for a chance to win prizes. There is also an instant-win game, Marriott Penalty Kick Challenge, on the website.

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The Boston Red Sox are adding another monster to the outfield at Fenway Park.

With the Green Monster stationed in left field, the Red Sox are building a "Monster Sled" in center field for fans to enjoy around New Year's. According to, the sledding hill will be 20-feet high and will run 75 feet.

The sledding and tubing ramp, which will be open for Boston residents and hourly rentals for groups of up to 100, is a part of the 2014 Frozen Fenway event. Frozen Fenway runs from Dec. 28 through Jan. 13. For more information, see here.

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As you might have heard, the 49ers are set to move into Levi's Stadium in 2014 in Santa Clara. But you might not have known that the 49ers have actually called Santa Clara home since the late 80s. The team's headquarters and training facility is located at 4949 Centennial Boulevard in Santa Clara. The new stadium, which has been selected to host Super Bowl 50 in February 2016, will be just around the corner.

California has not hosted a Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 when the Buccaneers beat the Raiders 48-21 in San Diego.

Here is a sneak peek at the construction of Levi's Stadium:

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Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup has been riddled with controversy from the get-go. From allegations of bribery and corruption in the bidding process to reports of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers in preparation for the tournament, there has been no shortage of outrage.

Even something seemingly as innocuous as the unveiling of the stadium's design has generated a stir. Here's the animated video that AECOM Technology Corporation released to showcase the project:

The inspiration of the design is a "dhow" boat, which is the traditional Qatari vessel for pearl diving.

But Buzzfeed had a decidedly different take on it, saying Al Wakrah Stadium resembles female genitalia. The stark critique quickly gained traction online over the weekend, which can't be welcome news for organizers already saddled with the issues cited.

This isn't the first flap involving plans for a stadium. In 2011, the Qataris announced plans to produce
artificial clouds to provide shade for fans in the stadium.

It's actually a smart move, if the technology can be put into practice, given that temperatures can reach 120 degrees in July and August, the usual summertime slot for the World Cup. This has been another huge headache for soccer, and some officials have pushed for the 2022 World Cup to be shifted to the winter.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter told Al Jazeera that "if it's possible to play at another date, it will be better but they will not play the World Cup in January or February" because it cannot conflict with the 2022 Winter Olympics.

As a contrast to what was just released, here is a model of the stadium that Qatar used in 2010 during the bidding process:

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Famed aquatic explorer Jacques Cousteau helped popularize the Great Blue Hole in Belize as a scuba-diving attraction. But this group of adventure-seekers decided to approach the hole from an aerial perspective:

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Last July, while the golf press feasted on Phil Mickelson and his Muirfield miracle, I got the brave idea that just once I should visit Scotland during Open Championship week and not wade through a sea of bazooka cameras to retrieve the tepid golf quote. I vowed to take the cart path less traveled.

Unfurling the familiar map -- Selcraigs hail from Lower Largo, not far from St. Andrews -- I saw a canvass of splendid golf and favorite toons. Inverness in the Highlands, along the Moray Firth, is the perfect camp for playing incomparable Royal Dornoch and the newly brilliant Castle Stuart, the best new Scottish course in decades. (Oh, Donald, we hear your wails.)

On the East Coast, beloved Cruden Bay still remains a mystery to me. County Fife offers two memorable Old Tom Morris designs defined by the North Sea, Crail and Elie, and another half-dozen starlets not named St. Andrews. Or I could have stayed so close to Muirfield that I would smell the beer tents, yet spend my golf hours at enthralling North Berwick and mighty Gullane.

That's the Scottish golf dilemma. In every direction there awaits a week of exceptional golf full of century-old links and large reputations. But I was searching for something entirely different. I wanted a week of quirky. I needed off-the-grid, honesty-box golf with lots of nine-holers and newly mown pastures.

I asked David Connor, VisitScotland's able golf manager, to recommend something that if not quite undiscovered, was at least unfamiliar to most of the golf world.

He mulled. "Would you fancy a ferry and perhaps the world's oldest 12-hole golf course?"

Ah, the man can bait a hook. Every golf trip should start with a ferry.

The Isle of Arran is a kidney-shaped and kidney-named mountainous island off the southwest coast of Scotland, 40 miles from Glasgow as the puffin flies, guarded from the full Atlantic by a famous finger of land called Kintyre. (The tip of that peninsula, the Mull of Kintyre, inspired the 1977 hit song by Paul McCartney, who owned a ranch nearby.) Arran is often called "Scotland in Miniature" because its coastline and terrain – mountains in the north, lowland forests and farms in the south – nicely mimics the mainland. There are fewer than 5,000 full-time residents on Arran, but as the fine website,, suggests, most of them play golf.

Flying in from London Heathrow, Glasgow glistened like new china. Perhaps you remember how extraordinary the weather was in Scotland during what we can, back home, call the British Open. It was like a cloudless Colorado summer morning for two straight weeks, and a London tabloid screamed, "England Driest in 247 Years."

"I've lived here all my life," a Glaswegian bartender told me, "and this is the first time I've ever actually planned a barbecue for next week. We're Scottish. We never plan anything outside for tomorrow, much less next week."

More rambunctious than studious Edinburgh, Glasgow and its stunning architecture, refurbed warehouses, pubs and music venues deserve your full attention for a weekend. But I hustled through the airport, leaped into an Arnold Clark rental and barely made the Ardrossan ferry for its hour-long trip across the icing-smooth sound to Arran. (The ferry runs five times a day; about $50 for cars.)

Even on one of Scotland's warmest summer days, the deep open water required my wool and Gore-Tex. Invigorating, yes, but all this land-loving Texan could imagine were the intrepid lifeboat rescue teams that patrol the brutal Scottish coast. You see their plastic donation boxes in restaurants all over the country. Honestly, how does anyone do their job?

We docked at Arran's tourist hub, Brodick, and were enveloped by what felt like a village-sized, open-air REI store. Blow-ins and Brodickers alike all seemed to be toting kayaks, backpacks and serious walking sticks. One guesses the mayor might be L.L. Bean. For the next several days, I learned to crest blind roads a bit slower than usual for fear I would plow into healthy Canadians trudging on the shoulder, or energetic Dutch couples cataloguing kestrels and gannets.

I got a quick seafood chowder at one of the dockside restaurants and headed out for the Brodick Golf Club just up the road. Tucked along the seaside marshlands beneath what local author Jean Glen describes in the course's centennial book as "the soaring granite peaks and graceful sweep" of the bay, Brodick GC (formed in 1897) is an unassuming but endearing course steeped in great history. Glen writes that in 1652 infamous British military hero Oliver Cromwell -- Catholics have termed him a genocidal dictator -- fought and lost a battle against Arran men on the very ground beneath the current golf course.

I was drawn immediately to the white-washed, living room-size pro shop and the very peculiar Scottish accent from behind the front desk.

"Yes, that is a South Carolina drawl," confessed the smiling Jackie Browning, wife of the redheaded pro, James.

"Hilton Head, actually," she continued. "I met James when he came to the University of South Carolina to play golf and then I just sort of married into the game. I'm the only American who lives full-time on the island."

The couple lives in a storybook cottage nearby, built in 1897, when the golf club was founded. (All seven Arran courses were built pre-1900.) Even with the snows, the floods, the force 8 gales and the social insularity of an island that can be circumnavigated in 55 miles, they do appear to be one of the happiest golf couples on earth.

"It is an incredible way of life," said Jackie. And when James walks up a moment later, he speaks glowingly of the community's welcoming volunteer spirit and the many grateful junior golfers he gets to coach. A native Edinburgher, James came to the States when he was 15 and still displays some of the game that won him a Gamecock scholarship.

The leafy parkland course costs about $40 to play in the summer and is small by any modern standards – 18 holes, 4747 yards, par 65, only two holes over 400 yards – but the par-threes and fours are so fun, and the tight greens so Loch Lomond-ish good that you quickly forget not needing to hit 300-yard drives. You'll not pry any hole-by-hole descriptions from me. The whole Arran golf experience should remain a surprise for you. Forget counting strokes and instead count the salmon and otters splashing in the Rosa burn as it wiggles through the course.

Wave to the kayakers as you loft a little wedge over their oblivious noggins, then revel in playing a beloved community course of which Jean Glen wrote: "Neither wars nor the mighty sea itself have stopped this club going forward and constantly improving."

James and I played late into the summer evening, still bright at 9, and I dragged my jet-lagged bones into the nearby Auchrannie Resort, a thoroughly-modern restored estate with luxury lodges and three stylish restaurants.

The next morning I was energized to play the island's other six courses, but unbeknownst to me, I was about to reach the pinnacle of Arran golf on the second morning, when I stumbled upon one of the world's few 12-hole golf courses, the wondrously idiosyncratic and scenic Shiskine Golf Club.

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During the preseason, eight NBA teams are playing a total of eight games in six countries across the world. And of all the players on all those teams, we can say with near certainty that Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is having the most fun on his trip.

Noah, the All-Star seven-footer, has an international background, as his mother is from Sweden and his father is from France. Over the offseason he's also traveled to China and Cameroon. Simply put, the dude loves to go abroad.

From the moment Noah stepped off the plane in Brazil, he's been having a blast.

Noah had been to Rio one time before, when he was 14, and he says he couldn't wait to get back.

"Brazil is like one of those places -- I’ve always wanted to come here -- the people are just full of energy," Noah said. "The culture is so cool, they’ve got great food, and it’s just an unbelievable culture with great people. So just to be a part of this, I couldn’t be happier."

The Bulls' game against the Wizards on Saturday will be the first in a South American country, and there is a lot of anticipation for the matchup in a country where basketball is very popular. Noah is doing all he can to match the fans' energy. Just check out his awesome entrance to Fan Appreciation Day.

Unfortunately for basketball fans in Brazil, Noah may not even suit up for Saturday's game. He has been held back the past few weeks by a groin injury and was deemed "questionable" by coach Tom Thibodeau.

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