Technology is set to add a more interactive and multidimensional experience for punters following the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off with host nation South Africa taking on Mexico at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg tonight (Australian time).

Betting sites have Brazil and Spain as the teams to beat and there is no shortage of platforms to watch the 32 nations battle it out, with live streaming sites, mobile applications, television coverage, social networking commentary, fantasy gaming, public broadcasts in major cities around Australia and even 3-D coverage  at Hoyts cinemas.

Footage of the Official World Cup Kick off Concert of musicians and crowds of vuvuzela players have already been streaming through Vevo — for free — which has also incorporated a live Twitter feed to contribute extra commentary and banter throughout their coverage of the cup.

Meanwhile, if SBS’ exclusive Australian television coverage and website streams aren’t going to do it for you or you’re too busy for their TV coverage, you can turn to your phone: Optus is offering its 3G subscribers all 64 matches for free over its mobile network.

While the iTunes store is packed with applications to follow the coverage, led by SouthAfrica 2010 World Cup Trader with updates about the event and team lists daily. There is also the official World Cup application, which keeps up to date with the latest stories from the South Africa World Cup for free. ESPN has also updated its ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup app, which promises live game scoring, tournament stats, tables and video profiles of all 32 teams.

But if you still want to experience the emotions of a World Cup crowd, there are live sites around Australia to watch the Socceroos, beginning with the first game against Germany on June 14. In Melbourne, head to Birrarung Marr or Waterfront City, while in Sydney Darling Harbour will be transformed into an official Fan Fest Site with three screens broadcasting all the games.

For a more comfortable and completely new take on football, check out some matches in 3D at Hoyts, which starts its own coverage of SBS feed today with the opening celebrations.

Online, the world’s media are providing special coverage via dedicated websites — try The Guardian, BBC Sport or ESPN, SBS or Fox Sports in Australia, and the official FIFA site for the latest.

As for who’s going to win, The Guardian‘s football expert Kevin McCarra offers his predictions:

Final: Brazil v Argentina (whose talent gets them there despite Diego Maradona). Brazil win. They are tough guys who can also play you off the pitch.
Dark horses: Denmark are a well-constructed team who won in Portugal as well as beating Sweden home-and-away in the qualifiers.
Golden boot: Wayne Rooney. England may well get to the semi-finals, ensuring plenty of action for a man who hit nine goals in the qualifiers.
Controversy: Match-fixing claims/bizarre refereeing.
Looking forward to: Brazil v Ivory Coast, so long as Ivory Coast can somehow get its act together.

Peter Fray

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