TVA’s Guide to the World Cup for Those Who Hate ‘Soccer’, Part I: “Knowing the Game”
Admittedly, there are a numbered few out there that enjoy “The Beautiful Game” and look forward to the World Cup whenever it happens.
There are others among our complement that look forward to this about as much as a barbed-wire colonoscopy. There are a number of reasons. Hate the fans. Don’t like watching grown men tumbleweeding their way across the field after being brushed by a Kleenex in a look of gallstone-passing agony. And why don’t they use their damn hands?
You know you hate it, you feel smug about it, and will tell anyone who will listen about your abhorrence of the sport like an atheist two drinks in. But something inside you feels like you’re missing out, like when “Life of Pi” was a thing and you had to resort to conversational input like “Yeah…loved the tiger”.
That’s where I can help. Here’s some quick tips to let you still take cursory participation in office conversations about Bosnia and Herzegovina without asking “Seriously, is that a place or did you make it up?” Use these and it will make your month of Hell slide by like England’s chances of winning the thing.
Apply Loose Racism
The World Cup, like the Olympics, is an international gathering of athletes. As such, because the attendees are coming from all over the world, you can cagily apply some of the prejudices that you have gathered and apply them to the teams that are playing. But be careful.
Germans are not humourless and rigid. They are “a well-oiled machine”.
The Japanese are not “working like small dogs”. They have “strong athleticism”.
Mexicans are not lazy. Their midfield is.
Pick a Player, Run With It
Heard of Neymar? Drop his name a lot. Just know he’s from Brazil and you’re away to the races. Van Persie? Have at it. Ronaldo is the tricky one as he used to play for Brazil and got fat. He is now svelte, plays for Portugal, and has a face you would never tire of throwing billiard balls at.
Always Come within of a Hair’s Breadth of Making your Praise of African Nations Patronizing
Cameroon. Nigeria. Ghana. Côte d’Ivoire. Algeria. All of these teams come to the tournament from Africa and that’s cute. They’re quite good at football, but if you think the fat, white rich men running the tournament would ever let them have a sniff at the biggest li’l trophy there is, you might as well just give me your betting money.
Things To Look For
There are a few new things they’ve added to this tournament that you should be aware of so that you don’t look like a Philistine boob.
Goal Line Technology
With so many goals-that-could-have-been, or goals-that-never-were, this much maligned addition to the game is supposed to bring accuracy to the game and make sure goals are counted. There are so few in a game, they might as well count the ones that actually went in. To see goal-line technology at work, it looks like what people in the 80s pictured computers would do now. The flailing goalkeeper freezes in mid-air, while the ball stops, gets zoomed in on pornographically, and the goal is in or not. This replaces other candidates for validation such as “cameras” or “eyeballs”.
Referees are now using a spray to tell players where to line up for free kicks. By spraying a line on the grass, players are allowed to know where exactly they are supposed to stand and cup their balls. The temporary line eventually disappears. So, yeah. It’s probably fine for the environment.
More Fan Shots
Fans in the stands are filmed more now, especially if their team is losing. If you’re supporting Belgium and they’re getting humped by Honduras, make sure that you’re not knuckle-deep in your nostril. Also, no matter how sad you feel, make sure you smile and dance around like they just called your name on “The Price is Right”.
You couldn’t have a tournament without them, so here’s a quick rundown of some of the participants.
• Brazil: They’re the hosts. They host like a poker party being run by Daniel Negreanu
• Mexico: Ann Coulter’s favourite
• Netherlands: They wear orange and fight amongst themselves like someone ate the last donut in the dressing room
• Spain: They won the last one and will be spending spare time tracking down “that really good paella place” in Salvador
• Greece: Expect their play to be as effective as their economy
• Italy: When mentioning Italy, always refer to them “starting slow early”. Also mention your love of spaghetti.
• England: They are like the Leafs; feel like they invented the game and haven’t done shit since the 60s.
• Ecuador: Hey, they’re here! Neat!
• Honduras: Their shirt was designed by a kindergarten student
• Argentina: Messi
• Iran: Messy
• United States of America: USA! USA! Won’t-Last-Long! Won’t-Last-Long!
• Belgium: If you wear a fake fedora, have a waxed moustache, and are watching the World Cup in between banjo practice sessions, this is your team
I hope this helps you enjoy your time watching The Beautiful Game. Have fun. Keep cool. And don’t worry, hockey starts in a few months.