London, England - With all the hype surrounding the World Cup in South Africa, it is easy to forget that there are other major sporting events taking place this summer. Wimbledon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament, has found itself unfortunately sandwiched into the middle two weeks of the biggest sporting competition on the planet.
However, officials at the All England Club have declared the Championships a soccer-free zone, choosing to show only tennis on the venue’s big screen during the June 21-July 4 event. There will be no screenings even of any of England’s World Cup matches which may fall during the Wimbledon fortnight.
The decision is unpopular - but the fact is that tennis deserves to remain the center of attention during its own tournament. Tennis doesn’t need to try and compete with football, but if it did, it would surely win hands down. Here are five reasons why.
1. No honking of vuvuzelas
For those who have been outraged by the noise coming from their television sets the last week or so, it is important to know that the vuvuzela, or any similarly noisy instrument, would never be allowed anywhere near the gates of Wimbledon. Those looking for some respite from the continuous drone of the plastic horn - which is driving everyone to distraction in South Africa and slowly deafening the rest of us watching from home - need look to no further than the lawns of SW19 in south-west London.
The crowd might increase in volume when home favorite Andy Murray steps onto the court, but mostly audience participation will be refined to polite clapping, and the occasional "oooh" or "aaah" at a particularly magnificent shot.
2. Someone always wins
So far the World Cup has proved to be a non-event, with six of the first 13 games ending in draws and eight of the first 16 featuring just one goal or less. A tennis match always has a winner. You are guaranteed a minimum three sets of action in the men's singles and at least two with the women.
Soccer fans often leave the stands before the end of the match if their team is losing, but you would never see anyone leaving Wimbledon until rain or bad light forces them to do so. It's proof that it is much more exciting to watch a sport where you have to stay to the end, because with no time limit, you have no idea who is going to win until the final ball has been hit.
3. The golden era
Tennis is experiencing one of the greatest eras in its history, with the Federer/Nadal rivalry at the top of the men's game providing excitement and spectacular matches.
The last few Wimbledon finals have seen some of the greatest match-ups in the history of sport, with the 2008 Nadal-Federer clash widely considered the best of all time. And with the rest of the field now raising their game to compete with the top two players, even early-round matches rarely disappoint fans.
You have to go a long way back before you can bestow the same praise on any World Cup final. The reason no-one has any idea who is going to win the World Cup this time is because no one team really stands out over any other - a fact reflected in the number of draws so far, as well as the poor performances of favored teams such as Spain and England in their opening matches.
4. It's more international
While just 32 teams represent their countries at the World Cup, more than 500 tennis players from all over the world take part in the Wimbledon Championships in men's, women's, doubles, junior and veteran competitions. Last year, participants came from as far and wide as Uzbekistan, Finland, Kazakhstan, the Philippines and the Netherlands Antilles to south-west London, giving fans everywhere someone to cheer during the tournament.
In the World Cup qualifying nations normally come from the traditional footballing heartlands of Europe and South America, as do the winners. Only seven countries have ever lifted the trophy but players from 15 countries have won either the men's or women's titles at Wimbledon.
5. A class above
Finally, tennis is generally a much more civilized sport than football. You don’t play in the rain, the cold or the dark, and the players themselves are usually better behaved than soccer players.
You won’t see any tennis spectators fighting in the stands or rioting on the streets if a result has not gone their way either. Rather than watching a game fueled by beer, spectators at Wimbledon can be seen quietly tucking in to a bowl of strawberries and cream, in full appreciation of the sport being played in front of them.
So these are my five reasons why Wimbledon beats the World Cup hands down - but what do you think?