Thursday, June 12, 2014

Reasons To Hate Every Team In The World Cup

Generally, it's easy to figure out who to root for in the World Cup (Note: all right-thinking humans should be rooting for a meteor to hit Sepp Blatter). You default to the country you're from if they're playing, and if they're not, you either go for cool jerseys or someone your native land hasn't been at war with too recently. Alternately, if you're a wacky hipster type intent on letting the world know you know SO much about soccer despite  being American and it being one of those weird "sportsball" things, you pick Ecuador or Belgium. (Alternately-alternately, if you're a front-runner, you pick Brazil or Spain, and everyone who knows you secretly thinks you're a jerk.)

Harder, however, is figuring out which team to hate. There are 32, after all, and at least one of them's got to play the heel. Whether it's through blatant match fixing, blatant jerkwad play on the pitch, or just having weird nicknames, there's always a team that will set someone off. Here, then is a way to make up your mind - a list of reasons to hate every team in the Cup.

You're welcome.

  1. UNITED STATES - The best and most popular player in American soccer history got left off the team. The coach admits his team has no chance. Both of these acts are positively unAmerican and thus must be punished with your disregard.
  2. AUSTRALIA - They call their team "The Soccerroos". This sounds like either the opening act for a Wiggles reunion tour or a type of colorful underwear you sell to five year olds. No dice.
  3. JAPAN - Have you seen the new Godzilla movie? How could they allow that to happen?
  4. SOUTH KOREA -  Conspiracy theory holds that they (and Japan) were gifted with preferential refereeing when the World Cup was held in their backyard. Cheaters should never prosper.
  5. RUSSIA - Rumor has it they annexed two fullbacks and a midfielder from the Ukranian national team on their way to Brazil.
  6. IRAN - Oh, no. A stupid gag column isn't worth getting shot by the Revolutionary Guard over. NO REASON TO HATE THE IRANIAN NATIONAL TEAM AT ALL.
  7. CAMEROON - Most people don't know that players aren't paid directly by FIFA for the World Cup. FIFA offloads some of its filthy lucre on the countries' respective soccer federations, which then turn around and give money to the players if there's any left after they take their share. The Cameroonian players, at last report, had gotten fed up with this treatment and refused to board their plane to the Cup. A far more effective and enjoyable protest would have been to go to Rio and then strike, because then at least they would have been in Rio, and that sort of lack of planning is simply unforgivable.
  8. ENGLAND - Never in the history of international soccer has a side of whom so much was expected by the English tabloids produced so few results and so many billboards featuring David Beckham's junk, blown up to Brobdingnagian proportions, on billboards across the US. The residual hate from that still hasn't worn off.
  9. NETHERLANDS - They're the Toronto Maple Leafs of soccer, convincing everyone they're much better than they are before ultimately producing consistently disappointing results on the field. Also, they wear orange in public.
  10. URUGUAY- Their best player, Luis Suarez, is fond of biting opponents. When the zombie apocalypse happens, it'll be the Uruguayan soccer team's fault.
  11. ITALY - Their team name means "the Blues". Their country's flag is white, green, and red. Case closed.
  12. NIGERIA - They call their team the "Super Eagles". And yet, we've never seen the Bat Eagles, the Wonder Eagles, or even the Aqua Eagles. Clearly, this is a problem.
  13. ARGENTINA - Their greatest player ever scored their greatest goal ever by the simple expedient of punching the ball into the net. This is soccer. You're not allowed to punch the ball with your hand. That's why most of the world calls it "football".
  14. GREECE -Because any discussion of Greece's soccer team is inevitably going to get hijacked by some proto-Randite to talk about European fiscal policy and austerity measures in a way that suggests they've never read either Ayn Rand or an economics textbook, and frankly, who needs that?
  15. MEXICO - The Mexican national team backed into the World Cup like an 83-79 Tony LaRussa managed Cardinals team backed into the playoffs. At this point the US side can look past a friendly with Mexico, which is like having the six year old you're babysitting for announce he can drive to the hoop on you off the dribble any time he wants.
  16. BRAZIL - Home team. Favorites. The most decorated side in international soccer history. Rooting for them is the safest, lamest thing anyone not actually from Brazil could do. 
  17. COSTA RICA - They allowed less than a goal a game during their qualifying run. Is there anything soccer needs less than fewer goals? I think not.
  18. FRANCE - Let us, for a moment, abjure all the usual cheap and unkind stereotyping that people usually do of France and instead concentrate on a real reason to dislike their national soccer team. I actually talked to a friend who lives and works in Paris about what to put here, and I wanted his input. His response? "They're French. What else do you need?" Case closed.
  19. IVORY COAST - Because Didier Drogba helped negotiate an end to his country's civil war, and he built a hospital, and...aww, gosh darn it, you just can't hate these guys. Unless they fail to take advantage of a soft draw and don't make it out of group play again.
  20. GERMANY - Their team nickname - and I know, this gets pointed out every four years - is Die Mannschaft. If that doesn't reduce your inner twelve year old to tears of helpless laughter so intense you can't actually watch the games, you're dead inside.
  21. GHANA - Because they're completely incapable of beating anybody except the United States at this thing.
  22. ECUADOR - Hipsters love them as a trendy dark horse. That's enough reason to hate them, right there.
  23. BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA - TL:DR country's name.
  24. ALGERIA - 16 of the 23 players suiting up for Algeria this go round were born in France. See also: FRANCE.
  25. BELGIUM - Sorry, was distracted thinking about chocolate there for a minute. Mmm, chocolate.
  26. PORTUGAL - They have Cristiano Ronaldo, and then they have the rest of their team. In other words, they're the soccer equivalent of the LeBron-era Cleveland Cavaliers, and nobody rooted for those guys. I mean, nobody.
  27. HONDURAS - I've got nothing bad to say about these guys, which is enough to make them look incredibly suspicious and thus worthy of being hated. 
  28. SWITZERLAND - Commentary about this team will inevitably produce a lengthy raft of references to "clockwork precision", as opposed to "cuckoo clocks", "weird fiscal policies of individual cantons" and "bands of mercenaries with pikes who terrorized Europe for centuries".
  29. COLOMBIA - They're missing their best player, Falcao, due to injury. And if they're going to play without the guy who gave us "Rock Me, Amadeus", then I'm just not interested.
  30. CHILE - Their best player, Arturo Vidal, has a faux-hawk.In the galaxy of bad hair choices that is international soccer, this is the worst.  
  31. SPAIN - 9 of Spain's players are from either Barcelona and Real Madrid. Expect plenty of talk about how this is the greatest rivalry in sports, without any mention of the fact that Barcelona once supposedly had to throw a game to Madrid at gunpoint. That's never happened with Cubs-Cardinals now, has it?
  32. CROATIA - Their play style is described as "grinding". So, presumably, they will wait with the ball at midfield until there's a loot drop, at which point they'll ninja a couple of goals and try to advance. 

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