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CBC's Arsenault to cover World Cup off the pitch

Adrienne Arsenault

Dustin Rabin

The World Cup is pure opera: bravado, shame, elation, panic - and, oh yeah, some kicking of soccer balls around various stadiums. CBC-TV correspondent Adrienne Arsenault will be augmenting the network's World Cup coverage from South Africa with reports on all the heightened humanity surrounding the tournament. Just don't ask her to kick a ball herself.

What will you be focusing on in your World Cup reports?

Well, I suppose I'd describe our mandate as largely looking away from the action on the pitch and back at the people and the city and the country. The rest, in a way, is up to the news gods.

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The World Cup may be fun, but for millions of fans it's as serious as death. How do you see striking the right balance in your segments?

I think all of us worry about tone and balance all the time. That's definitely one of the middle-of-the-night-panic aspects to the job. And this gets even more complicated right now. We can't let the vuvuzelas drown out important voices on human rights and security and politics and economics. But we also can't forget that this is an event hundreds of millions of people desperately look forward to every four years. We don't want to be the doom news team.

What personally interests you the most about the World Cup?

We've been talking about that as a crew here. Erin (Boudreau, our producer) and Richard (Devey, our cameraman/editor) make fun of me because I am a pathetic soccer player. I don't even kick a ball well. But I can appreciate the sheer power of the sport, and really, if you could choose only one subject to start talking about as an icebreaker just about anywhere in the world, it would be soccer. It's one topic that just might brighten some stern faces. Local teams, premier league, star players, all of those themes can launch great conversations in the most unlikely of places. So, a World Cup which celebrates that? Fantastic.

There's the view that sport represents man's achievements, politics his folly. Sad but true?

Sad, of course, but maybe it's also just too simple a characterization, especially here and now. I guess the real test of the broader social and political achievements of sports in this case will be what happens here when the last goal is scored and all the cameras leave.

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Guy Dixon is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. More

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