The World Cup kicks off in South Africa this Friday, a fact Cracked management was only made aware of when they discovered several of our forum members talking about it, during a routine poetry-sweep of the forums.* "I guess this is kind of a big deal right?" one of our editors wondered aloud during a recent pitch meeting. "To people, right? There are some people who think this thing is the business, right? The shit, the bee's knees, the owl's prolapsed rectum? Right? We should definitely probably have at least something written for these people. I may have just smoked a whole wheelbarrow of peyote, but Christ, I am positive they exist."
*Cracked's Corporate Social Responsibility Policy explicitly prohibits the production or dissemination of poetry, or any written work which makes use of symbolism or pleasing aesthetic features.
And as Cracked's Official Overseas Correspondent, it was all but guaranteed that I would be tasked with the assignment. I had no particular problem with that, knowing that thanks to our audience's unfamiliarity with the game, I could get away with even sloppier research than normal. So that said, below I present a short preview on what you can expect from this, the 437th World Cup!
The World Cup is held every seven years, with 32 nations from around the world competing in a tournament of the lowest common denominator of sports: soccer. Following preliminary group stages, the evening gown stage and the final knock out games, one team will eventually triumph. The country that wins the World Cup then takes over the presidency of the One World Government for the next seven years.
Did You Know?
America's poor performance in soccer and simple, childish jealousy is the main reason the One World Government is so unpopular there.
What's called "soccer" in America is called "football" everywhere else in the world. This is because they do not speak English very well everywhere else in the world. In this column I'll use the names interchangeably, because I don't want to take the time to do any editing or proofreading.
During the course of play, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms, with the exception of one player per team, whose identity is kept a secret until he can use his ability to maximum effect.
Soccer bouts are notoriously low scoring, with scores of 0-0 reoccurring often. In almost any sport in America, a score that low would actually result in attendees wildly discharging weapons at the players, but fans of soccer will say this low scoring makes the goals that do happen more exciting. When a tedious bit of midfield play opens up into a seamless, flowing attack, the rush of excitement is all the more powerful for the boredom that preceded it. In short, it's a typical "quality" versus "quantity" argument. I can respect that, but honestly, I suspect that an awful lot of quality can be derived from a focus on quantity. It's like putting a chimpanzee in an old folks' home and locking the doors. Sure he's going to terrorize some old people. But if you get him drunk first, you're guaranteed to get a lot more terrorizing, even if that terrorizing is somewhat less coordinated. And I think there's some very real value in that.
The Golden Snitch
Is worth 150 goals and ends the game.
One of the most notorious elements of the game of soccer is the diving the act of pretending to be tripped or fouled to try and be awarded a penalty or foul shot. It's common to see an elite player, at the first sign of a tackle, go hurtling to the ground as if he was just shot by a Pussy-Ray.
Although the horrible men who run the game will state otherwise, the rules of football specifically encourage this behavior. The potential rewards for diving are so high and the potential downsides so non-existent, that in many cases it's foolish for an attacking player not to dive. The chance of gaining a small competitive edge via a dive is worth it in exchange for looking like a man who falls over from his own farts.
Argentina are a favorite to win this year by people who make it a point to know these things (old men in cafes?). Led by their coach Drago Madonna, himself a champion from Argentina's legendary football/cocaine squads of the 80s, the Argentinians have the talent and experience to win it all. More importantly, these are also the guys who scream GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL! after goals are scored, which is a big hit with some people.
Argentinian Team Jersey.
Another traditional powerhouse, the Germans are a little less feared this year, having lost dangerous midfielder Klaus Hundfocker and many other veteran players to the mandatory euthanasia program Germany implemented in the 1980s, when a poor translation of the film Logan's Run led the entire country to walk out of the movie with entirely the wrong message.
German Team Jersey.
Conscious of their perpetual underachiever status, the English team has set themselves a more achievable goal this year, which involve a series of match-fixing scams and a madcap flight from the law in the back of three Mini Coopers. English striker George Higginsboothe has himself personally promised the nation to spend all of his illicit winnings on "malted beverages and poorly made pornography," endearing him in the hearts and minds of the English fanbase.
English Team Jersey.
Even if you don't follow football, you might remember the animated gifs that were barfed over the forums of the Internet in 2006, when that one guy on the French team nearly put his head through that other guy's chest.
Holy shit was that ever awesome. Yeah, anyways, that guy's not playing this year. Lord, this soccer game continues to disappoint.
French Team Jersey. Note how they've also shamelessly pilfered the American team's colors.
Famous for their beaches and hairless pubic areas, Brazilians are also one of the most successful soccering nations of all time. This Brazilian team, conveniently loaded with South American players, is again one of the tournament favorites. For some reason Brazilian players are often better known by their nicknames, so keep your eye out for talented midfielder Dinkdink, sage captain Tonto and explosive striker, Randy.
Brazilian Team Jersey.
The returning champions Italy will again try to defend their crown with their famed Azzuri defense, which involves putting several extra players on the field illegally, then kidnapping the referee's family, then standing around smoking cigarettes until the game is over and they've won.
Italian Team Jersey.
Yes, the Americans do have a team playing at this World Cup, despite the fact that most Americans still only have the vaguest notion of what a "world" is, and only know a "cup" as the thing 48 ounces of Dr. Pepper comes in. The American team has big hopes resting on their new coach this year, former actor Emilio Estevez, who experts predict will deploy some interesting new formations this tournament.
USA Team Jersey.
A surprise entrant, North Korea made it into the tournament when the three other teams in their qualifying group all died under mysterious circumstances. Interestingly, both North Korea and South Korea are in the World Cup this year, and a meeting between the two would be extremely interesting, but for the fact that the odds of them playing each other are ridiculously unlikely, to the point that it would require a dump truck full of zeros to properly express the probability of such a match.
North Korean Team Jersey. Note they appear to have been hastily assembled.