Every four years the world gathers representatives from their countries to kick a little round ball around a big field. This international tournament is called The World Cup because it really does include almost every country in the world (it isn’t like the World Championships we hold in the United States in which the only countries invited to our World Championship are countries that are directly above the US or are the US). The World Cup is a big deal in most corners of the globe and since I am an expert on all things global, I thought I would sit down this morning a give all my readers in the United States a guide to the World Cup. I have been watching the World Cup ever since I discovered that I can watch any sporting event that doesn’t include cars going around in a circle, or a baseball.
What you need to know to be an informed viewer:
1. The host nation, this year Brazil, spent billions of dollars (or Euros, or Spanish Doubloons) to get ready for this big tournament and are now wishing they hadn’t even applied for the job. This happens every four years. Last time it was South Africa who was sorry they hosted the event. This is because the governing organization, FIFA, is the most corrupt organization on the planet: Worse than the Mafia, worse than Walmart, worse than Monsanto, and worse than SPECTRE. If you really want to know more about FIFA’s corruption just read anything about how the country of Qatar will be hosting in eight years.
2. When watching the games the player with the worst haircut is the best player. (There are two exceptions to this rule, but I will not bore you with real information here.) The best player from Brazil, Neymar, has hair that looks like Beaver Cleaver cut it.
Most teams follow this rule to make it easier for the casual viewer to follow the game. The US’s best three players have cut all their hair off to be different, so Kyle Beckerman (not America’s best player) has made up for it by growing the ugliest dreadlocks possible.
3. The most annoying part of watching soccer/futbol/foosball/football is all the faking of injuries. This is part of the game apparently. Pretending to get hurt runs contrary to everything Americans respect in sports and most real fans of the sport hate the flopping also (unless it is their team who fooled the ref), but guys will regularly fall down like they were shot by a sniper. Then the television crew will spend 10 minutes discussing whether it was a real injury or not. 99.999999% of the time they guy is perfectly okay. Usually he falls, rolls around for 3 minutes, is taken off the field in a stretcher, and then twenty seconds later is running around like nothing happened. This is usually when I yell at the television the most (yelling at the television is a skill all World Cup followers master). I like how rugby deals with injuries, if you get hurt the game doesn’t stop, the doctors come out on the pitch and fix you on the field. Fixing in rugby usually means pouring water on the broken leg and then wrapping it with tape and saying, “Right, that’ll do ya.” In soccer they even kick the ball out of bounds when a guy pretends to get hurt just so nobody gets mad.
4. Germany, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and the Netherlands are probably the only teams who have a realistic chance to win the whole thing, but it really comes down to a whole bunch of luck in my opinion.
5. There is pool play, this does not include an actual pool, and then there is the knock-out round, which does not include any actual punching. The US will be super lucky to get out of pool play since they are in the Group of Death. There is always one group that has too many good teams and so one of those teams will not make the next round and everyone in that country can complain that it was unfair. The group of death this year includes Germany, Portugal, the United States, and Ghana. (I think the England, Costa Rica, Italy, and Uruguay pool looks worse, but what do I really know?) If the US doesn’t make the next round nobody except soccer nerds will really care, but if we do make it out of the first round suddenly everyone will start watching soccer.
6. The US coach is from Germany and has already announced that we have no chance of winning. This made all the US soccer nerds mad, and then they shrugged their tiny shoulders and agreed, we really have no chance to win unless all the other teams catch malaria.
7. The US’s first game is against the team who has knocked us out of the past two World Cups. If soccer were a big deal in our country we would have invaded Ghana by now built a new nation like we did in Iraq.
8. The tournament will last about a month and during the final game the entire world (except for Canada and the US) will shut down to watch. During the last World Cup final I was in Paris and the whole city stopped. This is when I was attacked by Gypsies at an ATM. I fought them off by screeching and swinging my empty backpack with such force that I probably caused a tornado in Kansas.
9. ESPN is covering the World Cup and has hired about four guys who can’t speak English very well. I’m not trying to be mean, but sometimes it is painful to watch, and they have these poor guys sitting in the more ridiculous set ever constructed. This alone makes watching the World Cup worth it.
10. The US plays its first game today at 3pm Pacific Standard Time.