Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 11th 2014 Contents PHILADELPHIA---When robots first started
playing soccer, it was a challenge for them
just to see the ball. And to stay upright.
But the machines participating in this
month s international RoboCup tournament
are making passes and scoring points. Their
ultimate goal? To beat the human World
Cup champs within the next 35 years.
"It s hard to predict what will happen in
2050, but we are on the right path," said
event co-founder Manuela Veloso, a computer
science professor at Carnegie Mellon Uni-
versity in the US.
A week after the World Cup title game,
teams from 45 countries will face off at
RoboCup in the Brazilian coastal town of
The "players," which range from life-size
humanoids to wheeled objects the size of
soccer balls, compete in size-based divisions
on miniature indoor fields. The tournament
runs from July 19-25.
While certainly fun to watch, organisers
say the annual competition isn t just about
creating kicking machines. It s about teaching
the fully autonomous robots to make quick,
smart decisions while working together in
a changing environment.
Those algorithms can translate off the field
into technology like self-driving cars or deliv-
ery drones, said University of Pennsylvania
engineering professor Dan Lee. RoboCup
includes separate contests for service robots
and search-and-rescue droids.
Lee, who directs Penn s robotics lab, has
been the head "coach" of the school s
RoboCup soccer teams since 2002. Back
then, the games resembled those played by
5-year-old children, Lee said.
"They would all cluster together," he said
of the robots. "Whoever got the ball would
have a hard time figuring out which way to
kick the ball."
Now, it s like watching 10-year-olds execute
basic athletic skills and strategies, said Lee.
The battery-powered creatures play much
shorter matches---about 20 minutes, com-
pared with 90 minutes in the World Cup---
but generally follow the same rules. Humans
referee the games, entering their calls into
a computer that communicates with the
RIO DE JANEIRO---Renata de Mouro
Moitinho sambas so fast her feet blur, but
her partner moves with the bumbling ten-
tativeness of a toddler taking his first steps.
And in a way the strapping man in a tight
spandex soccer jersey really is taking his first
steps---his first samba steps, that is: Moit-
inho s dance partner for the evening is an
Italian, visiting Brazil for the World Cup, and
she is giving him his very first lesson in the
nation s frenetically paced national dance.
The two met at the Fan Fest in Rio de
Janeiro, where 22-year-old Moitinho and a
group of friends have been going throughout
the monthlong tournament in order to, as
she puts it, "hunt foreigners" like the Italian,
who declined to give his name.
Moitinho s not alone.
The past three weeks flood of foreign soc-
cer fans---the vast majority of them men---
has been a boon for the single women of
Brazil, where a demographic imbalance means
they outnumber men by more than four mil-
lion nationally. The imbalance, the result of
higher mortality rates among young men, is
particularly acute in Rio de Janeiro, where
there are just over nine men for every 10
women, according to the 2010 census. That s
about the same as New York City, another
metropolis known for its lack of eligible single
"There are so many men everywhere these
days, it s amazing," Moitinho said, gesturing
out over the sea of masculine faces at the
Fan Fest. "The World Cup is God s gift to
Brazil s World Cup bonanza hasn t come
without a downside, with scattered reports
of Brazilian women being sexually harassed
by out-of-control fans. But in most cases,
Brazilian women say foreign fans have
behaved well, and have displayed a more
enlightened, less macho attitude than that
of Brazilian guys.
Moitinho, who along with three friends
braved the bus for more than two hours to
get to the Fan Fest from their home in a dis-
tant Rio suburb, said foreigners just have a
je ne sais quoi that their Brazilian counterparts
"They re handsome, sweet, humble and
generous," Moitinho said as her friends
grabbed hold of the Italian s hips to lead him
in samba s hallmark sway. "They respect
women and don t come on strong like Brazil-
ian men, who just grab on to you and try
to kiss you right away. They re much more
Catia Santiago, a 35-year-old single mother,
"I ve never had the money to travel, so I
thought all men were like Brazilians---very
fast, very aggressive," Santiago said as she
soaked in the rays on Copacabana beach.
"Now I see that gringos, " as foreigners of
all nationalities are known in Brazilian Por-
tuguese, "aren t like that at all," she said,
adding that the language barrier hadn t
proven a barrier at all. "I m hooked."
Not everyone is as enthusiastic.
Brazilian newspapers have run stories with
local women complaining about foreigners
wandering hands and sense of entitlement.
A report in the newspaper Estado de Minas
cited several women as saying they had been
groped by England fans at a street party in
Belo Horizonte following the June 24 England
vs Costa Rica match there.
Misperceptions about Brazilian women
and misunderstandings over dating rituals
here may have played a role in such incidents.
Brazil, at once the birthplace of a bevy of
supermodels like Gisele Bundchen and also
the country with more Roman Catholics
than any other, has long struggled to reconcile
its reputation as a nation of beautiful, sexually
liberated women in skimpy clothing with
the conservative social mores that still hold
sway throughout much of the country.
Matthew Coelho, a 33-year-old from San
Francisco who has spent several weeks in
Brazil for the World Cup, said he was per-
plexed by gender relations in Brazil.
"On one hand, it s really easy to meet peo-
ple here and they re really friendly and the
girls here are excited to meet guys from the
US," he said. "But you sometimes have to
think about people s motivations.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, July 11, 2014
BERLIN---Germany's players will celebrate at
Berlin's Brandenburg Gate if they defeat Argentina
in the World Cup final.
Coach Joachim Loew's team is expected to re-
turn home Tuesday morning after Sunday's final in
Rio de Janeiro.
The German football federation yesterday said
Berlin and Frankfurt offered to host possible title
celebrations. The federation and the team decided
on the capital.
Federation president Wolfgang Niersbach said
Berlin's sprawling fan mile, which occupies the
road leading up to the city's signature Branden-
burg Gate, "would be an ideal place to thank fans
in all of Germany for their sensational support" if
the team wins its first World Cup in 24 years.
General manager Oliver Bierhoff says there
won't be a party with the fans unless Germany
wins the title.
SAO PAULO---Police in southern Brazil say hun-
dreds of Ghanaians who entered Brazil as tourists
to watch World Cup games have asked for asylum.
Noerci da Silva Melo heads the Federal Police of-
fice in the city of Caxias do Sul. He said Thursday
that over the past week, 200 Ghanaians have
asked for asylum. The Justice Ministry will decide
whether to grant their requests. In the meantime,
they are allowed to work and circulate in Brazil.
He said close to 150 of the Ghanaians have left
Caxias do Sul for the states of Sao Paulo and
Santa Catarina where they have a better chance of
Melo said the Ghanaians claimed to be Muslims
"fleeing the violent conflicts between different
VATICAN CITY---The Vatican says it is unlikely
that Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emer-
itus Benedict XVI, would get together to watch
their home teams in the World Cup final on Sun-
Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi,
said yesterday that the hour of the final is late for
Francis' routine, and acknowledged with a chuckle
that Benedict wasn't known as an avid sports fan.
Still, he didn't rule anything out, saying, "we'll see
in the coming days."
Pope Francis has already given his word that
there would be no papal intervention in Ar-
gentina's fortunes, promising he wouldn't pray for
any team. German-born Benedict's interests are
known to lean more toward intellectual than ath-
Lombardi said "both would want the better
team to win, without taking sides."
KATMANDU---A teenager in eastern Nepal com-
mitted suicide after her favourite team Brazil lost
badly to Germany in the World Cup semifinals, po-
lice said yesterday.
Police said the tenth grade student was de-
pressed and hanged herself from the ceiling on
Wednesday morning in Bharaul village located 400
kilometres (250 miles) east of the capital Kat-
The teenager was identified as Pragya Thapa.
Her mother found her hanging from the ceiling in
her room. She was living with her mother and
grandparents while her father was abroad work-
ing.Police said they were investigating and the body
had been sent for autopsy.
Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in the semifinal on
Brazilian women celebrate bonanza of men
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