TIME Ghana

How 2 Gay Men Live in a Country Where Homosexuality Is Illegal

Two young men bravely share their experience as homosexuals in Ghana

Some 37 African countries criminalize homosexual relationships, with penalties ranging from misdemeanors to death sentences, according to a Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Human Rights First report released Tuesday. The report, which analyzed LGBT rights in 54 African countries in total, paints a picture of a continent in crisis.

In Ghana, a country often regarded as among the most progressively democratic nations in Africa, homosexuality remains illegal, punishable by up to three years imprisonment. A recent Pew survey of various countries, not all African, reveals that 98 percent of Ghanaians feel that homosexuality is “morally unacceptable,” the highest percentage of any country surveyed.

“In Ghana, everybody is culturally and religiously blinded,” says Fred K., an openly gay man living in the Ghanaian capital of Accra who didn’t want to share his last name for fear of criminal and social repercussions. “They think that it’s demonic … so I just pray that a time comes that they decide to change and be like the Western countries.”

The HRC/HRF report is out just a week before U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to hold the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.. Advocates from the U.S. and Africa are jumping on that opportunity to bring the the continent’s controversial LGBT rights record to the world’s attention.

“My fellow gays don’t want anything to be legalized,” Nana Yaw, a human rights activist and openly gay man, says. “All they want is for their rights to be respected and protected.”

TIME Soccer

Racism and Nazism Are Haunting Germany’s World Cup Campaign

Brazil WCup Uniforms
A Germany 1934 FIFA Soccer World Cup team jersey is displayed among other national soccer team jerseys on a shopping mall in Salvador, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. The nazi eagle and swastica clearly visible on the jersey's breast. Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

Germany is making headlines for the wrong reasons

Prior to the debut of this year’s World Cup, Germany was not only a favorite to win the tournament, but was voted the most popular country in the world. But while Deutschland still has a loose cup chance, its popularity may be waning after a few controversies that have seen the country’s Nazi past reemerge—and which throw an unwelcome spotlight on the country’s present, albeit isolated, neo-Nazism.

Nazi-era jersey
An exhibit of historical soccer jerseys in Salvador, Brazil has flared into controversy because of its inclusion of a 1934 German replica uniform. The white garment with a reichsadler, or imperial eagle, perched on a swastika has many wondering who could have made such an insensitive oversight. While looking at the 1934 regalia, Rolf Zettel of Fribourg, Switzerland told the Associated Press: “Is this a joke or what? Germany 1934 [was] a despicable time. Is this OK? No it’s not OK.”

Others, however, say it should remain for historical purposes. Chile fan Leonardo Duarte said, “It actually represents a time that I don’t know that well, but that was really negative in world history.”

German fans in blackface
A photograph of two German fans in black face at the Germany vs Ghana match sparked an online storm, with FIFA promising to investigate. Reports say that several German fans came to the match on June 21 in blackface.

Germany’s recent record on blackface isn’t good. Die Tageszeitung, a left-leaning newspaper known for its progressiveness and work on inequality, referred to the White House as “Uncle Barack’s Cabin” in 2008. Editors defended the cover, saying it was satirical.

In 2011, Martin Sonneborn, a print satirist, comedian and current member of European Parliament lathered himself in blackface in order to compare himself to Obama.

The satyrical “Die Partei” (The Party) party featuring candidate Martin Sonneborn made to look like US President Barack Obama, in Berlin September 16, 2011, ahead of regional elections. John MacDougall/Getty Images

The backlash in English-speaking media was ferocious, but Sonneborn was unapologetic. “No, I didn’t know [the history of blackface],” he said. “If Americans associate it with that, then I’m sorry, but I’m not going to take it down,” Sonneborn told The Local at the time.

Neo-Nazi sympathizer invades the field

Also during the match between Ghana and Germany, a man covered in Nazi markings—including an “HH” for “Heil HItler”—invaded the field, and evaded stewards. It fell to Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari to remove him.

Ghana's Sulley Muntari helps a spectator off the pitch during the 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match between Germany and Ghana at the Castelao arena
Ghana’s Sulley Muntari helps a spectator off the field during the 2014 World Cup soccer match between Germany and Ghana on June 21, 2014. Eddie Keogh/Reuters

According to AP, the incident is being referred to the FIFA Disciplinary committee. FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told reporters: ”We do not respect any discriminatory messages. We are always taking any evidence or submissions to our disciplinary committee.”

According to Football Against Racism in Europe director Piara Powar “The question becomes how does one control an individual fan who chooses to mark his body and jumps on the pitch to propagate his neo-Nazi views.” He added: ”It’s a failure in the FIFA system to get as far as he did.”

TIME Television

U.S.-Ghana World Cup Match Draws Record Viewership

Team USA Fans Celebrate Win Over Ghana
Soccer Fans celebrate the United States win over Ghana in the World Cup opener on June 16, 2014 in Nashville, United States. Terry Wyatt—Getty Images

The "beautiful game" seems to be gaining admirers in a country that has long been immune to its charms

Monday evening’s match between Team USA and Ghana — a rivalry game after Ghana bumped the Americans from Cup contention back in 2010 — was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.

A record-breaking 15.9 million viewers tuned into the game, exceeding the viewership of any other soccer telecast in U.S. history, according to preliminary ratings from Nielsen. ESPN’s English language broadcast drew 11.1 million viewers and Univision’s Spanish language broadcast drew 4.8 million viewers. Both networks said the game broke records in American soccer viewership.

Then again, ESPN’s January broadcast of the college football championship drew a total of 25.6 million viewers, nearly 10 million more than the most watched soccer game in American television history. That suggests that while the “beautiful game” may be drawing admirers, America still remains committed to its bigger, rougher sister.

TIME World Cup

USA Goes Back to its Roots to Drum Up Winning World Cup Formula vs. Ghana

Ghana v USA World Cup Brazil
John Brooks of the United States celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the World Cup match against Ghana on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. Alex Livesey - FIFA—FIFA via Getty Images

USA's John Brooks scores game-winning goal in last minutes

sportsillustrated

NATAL, Brazil – In Brazil, soccer’s spiritual home, the U.S. national team returned to its roots to secure a dramatic, historic and somewhat unlikely World Cup triumph.

Gallery: Best Shots from USA 2, Ghana 1

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s ambition to reshape the American game, from player development and professionalism to technique and tactics, remains the long-term aim. But it took a back seat Monday night here at the Arenas das Dunas in the colorful city on Brazil’s northeast coast where the U.S. opened the 2014 World Cup.

The proactive panache with which Klinsmann hopes to play would have to wait. The opponent, Ghana, and the circumstances required pragmatism, grit and commitment. Those are qualities the Americans have boasted for years, and they carried them to a 2-1 victory that might be tough to explain on paper but made perfect sense to the men who engineered it.

“It’s just something that’s written in our DNA,” said midfielder Graham Zusi, who hit the corner kick that led to reserve defender John Brooks’ 86th-minute match-winner. “It’s just the U.S. mentality. It’s the best I can describe it.”

WAHL: Brooks literally makes his World Cup dream come true

Klinsmann’s effort to build a team that can possess the ball and dictate tempo has been met with mixed results. Taking the game to CONCACAF rivals is one thing, but the World Cup represents a different level. Ghana had come to embody that next step, eliminating the U.S. with 2-1 wins in both the 2006 and 2010 tournaments.

A sound American game plan would have to account for Ghana’s speed and ruthless attacking efficiency, and, to Klinsmann’s credit, he opted for the practical over the proactive. The squad’s most conservative central midfielder, Kyle Beckerman, anchored a quartet that featured Michael Bradley in a more withdrawn role than he’s played in recent games, along with Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya on the flanks.

The mission was clear: clog the middle and force Ghana either to play the extra pass through the midfield thicket or launch crosses from the wings. What resulted was a U.S. team that, aside from Clint Dempsey’s stunning first-minute goal, resembled its predecessors more than Klinsmann’s ideal.

WAHL: Three Thoughts on USA 2, Ghana 1

“We switched to a 4-4-2 just straight up, a flat 4-4-2, and when you’re playing that, you’re pretty much going to play a counterattack,” Beckerman explained. “So I thought mainly the dangerous things that they had were getting it wide and crossing it in, a lot of half chances. But I thought we had some good blocks of four [midfielders and defenders].”

Ghana handled Dempsey’s early goal well, put the U.S. on the defensive and spent a significant majority of the next 80 minutes in the American end. Bradley called it a “tailspin.” The Black Stars won the possession battle, 59-41 percent, completed a far greater number of passes and outshot the U.S. 21-8. Yet that advantage didn’t translate to the sort of point-blank scoring chances that might unhinge the U.S.

An equalizer seemed likely but not inevitable, and the Americans adapted after losing target man Jozy Altidore and central defender Matt Besler to first-half hamstring injuries. Dempsey, who had his nose broken by a Ghanaian boot in the 33rd minute, continued despite breathing issues and blood in his throat.

“It will happen to all teams: injuries, problems, issues. That’s why you have a roster of 23 players and they have to understand exactly their role,” Klinsmann said.

Added Beckerman: “It’s tough to be not starting and having to come in early like Aron[Johannsson] did [for Altidore], and then you never really think a center back is going to go down and Brooks was focused and that was really good to see. And everybody fought for each other. We watched each other’s back.”

John Brooks Emerges as Unlikely World Cup Hero for the USA vs. Ghana

The U.S. continued defending vigorously in the Natal humidity, two of three substitutes having already been used. Center back Geoff Cameron was a monster in front of goalkeeper Tim Howard and in the second half, the Americans shored up the leaky left thanks to a robust effort from Jones.

“Tactically they’re really disciplined, and I knew it was never going to be an easy game,” Black Stars coach James Kwesi Appiah said.

The U.S. actually enjoyed its first decent stretch in some time just before Ghana leveled the score in the 82nd. At that point, it felt like Dempsey’s goal had been scored during the pre-World Cup sendoff series. Legs were heavy, and, considering the injuries and prevailing run of play, a draw would have been a respectable result.

But the thousands of U.S. fans who filled the Arenas das Dunas chanted “I believe that we will win!” for a reason. This is a team with a tradition of late heroics – look no further than the 2010 World Cup – and there was a sense among the U.S. players that there somehow was another goal in a game that almost got away from them.

“The commitment, the mentality, the determination, just the willingness to fight, the response after they got to 1-1 was really good – positive body language – everything was exactly what you’d want. In the end, to get the winner is deserved reward in a lot of ways,” Bradley said. “After they scored we made a real point of now attacking and seeing now if there wasn’t another chance left for us.”

Said Zusi, who replaced Bedoya: “It’s the mentality of us to never be satisfied with just getting out of there with something. We always want to push. Obviously if we’re in a situation where we’re up, we’re going to be smart. But in that situation we were in, we wanted all three [points]. We felt like we needed all three.”

So they went and got them. Right back Fabian Johnson took a chance, pushed forward and earned a corner kick. Zusi delivered it, and Brooks, the towering 21-year-old with just four caps to his credit, headed the ball home.

“When a set piece comes like a corner kick, we always have a little more hope, because we are very good in that,” Klinsmann said. “We have players who are determined to get onto those balls.”

Set pieces, defend with discipline and counter, believe despite the odds: this was old fashioned American soccer. It isn’t nearly enough to win a World Cup, and Bradley, who didn’t have his best game, knows it.

“We’re certainly honest with ourselves and know that we can and need to get better,” he said.

Easy passes were missed, runs were cut short and on occasion, the U.S. pulled the ball back and gave Ghana time to re-establish its defensive shape. Possession and build-up must improve and Klinsmann’s ultimate goal — to build a squad that can keep the ball and put the top teams on their heels – won’t be abandoned.

But Monday’s win, the Americans fifth in a World Cup in the past six decades, sends a couple of critical messages. One is that Klinsmann won’t sacrifice short-term results for long-term ideals. The other is that, when necessary, an evolving U.S. team still has some deep-rooted traditions it can count on. Pretty or not, three points is three points.

“We didn’t play our best game, but we grabbed a result and showed a lot of character,” Dempsey said.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME World Cup

The Man Who Sealed Team USA’s 2-1 Win Against Ghana

From right: John Brooks of the United States celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Fabian Johnson during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.
From right: John Brooks of the United States celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Fabian Johnson during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images

The little-known player's late header proved decisive as the Stars and Stripes beat the Black Stars in their opening match in the 2014 World Cup. Fans have embraced the player as "the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln"—at least, if Wikipedia is to be believed

John Brooks looked as if he could hardly believe what he had done.

During the 86th minute of the U.S.’s opening World Cup match in Brazil, the 21-year-old defender executed a perfectly timed header from a corner to grab the lead against perennial World Cup nemesis Ghana.

Then he collapsed as three of his teammates piled on top of him to celebrate the goal. The game was Brooks’ first competitive match with the senior national team and his debut at the world’s most watched sports tournament.

Brooks told reporters afterwards that the game-winning goal was a literal dream come true. “I told some teammates that I would score in the 80th minute and win the game and I did it – in the 86th minute,” he said. “The dream was two days ago, and it was also a header from a corner.”

The decisive goal sealed the U.S. triumph over the Black Stars, who had beaten the American squad in two previous World Cups. However, the mere fact Brooks was even on the field was serendipitous.

The Berlin native had spent the entire first half of the match watching from the bench before he was subbed on to replace star defender Matt Besler, who was struggling to shrug off a hamstring injury.

“He played his first World Cup and scored in it,” U.S. coach and former World Cup–winning Germany striker Jürgen Klinsmann told reporters after the game. “It was quite a special day for him.”

Brooks is one of four players on the U.S. national team born to an American serviceman and a German mother.

The 6-ft. 4-in. center-back has been playing for hometown club Hertha Berlin since the 2010–11 season, after reportedly turning down an offer to join the ranks of Bundesliga juggernaut Bayern Munich in 2011.

Brooks first joined the ranks of the U.S. national team when he played with the under-20 outfit in a stinging loss to Paraguay in 2010.

Monday night was a decidedly happier occasion, and he will likely stand a little taller as the U.S. battles to make it through the so-called group of death — even facing off against the country of his birth on June 26.

The defender says the decision to play for the Stars and Stripes came naturally, even though he could just as easily have joined the superstar-filled German squad thanks to his dual citizenship. (His father hails from Chicago, and he has tattoos of Germany and Illinois on his elbows.)

“The U.S. really wanted me, so it was not a hard decision to play for the USA,” said Brooks during an interview last August.

And the young player’s contribution on Monday seems to have resolved any doubts about his nationality. Shortly after the game with Ghana, Brooks’ Wikipedia profile was changed to describe him as “the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln.”

TIME World Cup

U.S. Soccer Captain Clint Dempsey Posts Adorable Father’s Day Instagram

U.S. soccer wins Instragram

Clint Dempsey may be the captain of the United States’ men’s national soccer team but he’s also apparently the team’s captain of adorable-ness. Dempsey posted this amazing photo to Instagram just a day before the American striker leads the U.S. squad in its opening World Cup contest against team Ghana (Monday at 6 p.m. EST folks — get your caxirolas ready!). A pair of tickets to the next World Cup says that the young lad summiting Dempsey’s shoulders and the two in his lap are quite possibly the happiest kids in the world tonight. The aww-inducing pic has already racked up thousands of likes on Instagram.

TIME 2014 World Cup

When Underdogs Made World Cup History

Never underestimate the possibility of the impossible

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup underway in Brazil, fans worldwide are cheering on their favorite teams, regardless of how likely it is that they will advance to the closing stages. Of the 76 countries that have participated in FIFA’s big event since the first one in 1930, only eight have managed to claim the title of champion. And only two of those were big surprises: Uruguay in 1950 and Italy in 1982.

But as any fan can tell you, the World Cup is about much more than who takes the trophy at the end. This year, several teams that qualified are considered long shots, among them the U.S.

The possibility that an underdog might defy the odds and advance further than expected underlies each World Cup match. Who knows what will happen?

Take a look at a few of World Cup history’s most memorable upsets — games no one could anticipate ending as they did, but ones everyone should remember.

 

TIME 2014 World Cup

World Cup 2014: Hello Long Shots!

Hey, not everyone can be a winner

The teams, the fans and the press are descending on Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and almost everyone is aware that host country Brazil is a big favorite, as are Spain, Portugal and Germany. Even a turtle can tell you that.

But even with 32 teams contending for the big prize, anything can happen, right? And the one thing a true fan loves more than a guaranteed champion is an underdog.

So take a closer look at some of this Cup’s “least likely to succeed,” because if fate smiles on one of them, World Cup history could be made.

TIME United Nations

Cell Phones Could Help Millions in Developing Countries To Read

About 774 million people cannot read or write worldwide, and illiteracy can often be traced to the lack of books. Now, cell phones are cheaply and conveniently putting electronic books in the hands of users across developing countries.

A UNESCO study released Wednesday says that hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries are using their mobile phones to read, suggesting that mobile technology could help tackle illiteracy and boost access to educational and reading material.

The report found a “revolution” in reading habits in developing countries, where books can be scarce but cellphones are not. The UN estimates that some 6 billion people have cell phones—more than the number of people with access to toilets—and technology that compresses data can help mobile phone users with even basic phones cheaply access books and stories.

The report—which touts itself as the first ever study of mobile readers in developing countries—was jointly conducted with Nokia and the nonprofit Worldreader, which works to distribute digital book content around the world. More than 4,000 Worldreader users in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe were surveyed on their reading habits.

Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they are reading more as a result of mobile reading. More than 10% of respondents said their primary reason for reading on their phone was because it was more affordable than reading in print and another 9% said it was because they don’t otherwise have access to books or stories.

The report heralded mobile reading as a potential way to empower women in countries where they may face cultural or social impediments to accessing books. While the majority of mobile readers are male, according to the survey, female respondents read nearly six times as much as men.

“How do we bring text to the unreached?” the report asks. “The answer – at least in the immediate term – is mobile devices, and more precisely mobile phones.”

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