The World Cup is almost here. And with 32 nations vying for the biggest title in the world's most popular sport, you bet you're going to want to root hard for the United States — and against every other nation. (At least until the U.S. is eliminated, upon which you'll tell yourself you never cared about soccer in the first place.)
But who are these other countries? I mean, Cameroon? What have they ever done that's so hateable? Oh. Plenty.
GROUP C … AKA Team USA's Group
Want to know how wimpy Algeria is? In 1830, France — yes,theFrance — managed to invade and capture the entire country. If you can't keep history's most bumbling military from invading you, it's hard to imagine what sort of defense you're going to mount on the soccer pitch. Also, what kind of national motto is "Ø¨Ø§Ù„Ø´Ù‘Ø¹Ø¨ ÙˆÙ„Ù„Ø´Ù‘Ø¹Ø¨"? Here in America we like to use actual words for mottos, not just a bunch of nonsensical scribbling. Maybe try something American like: "E Pluribus Unum."
You've got a lot of nerve, England. First you subjugate us as colonists, then you attack us in the War of 1812, then you plague us with Mr. Bean, and you've still got the chutzpah to show your face? Here, we'll make you a deal: you make sure that Victoria Beckham never, ever sets foot on American soil again, and we won't go out of our way to kneecap your players before the World Cup. Take it or leave it. Until then, just stay the hell away, England. We'll call you when we need to steal some of your sitcom ideas, no sooner.
(Oh, and forget "The Office." Thanks again for "All In The Family"!)
You want to cheer for Slovenia? Fine. One condition, though. You have to be able to find Slovenia on a map. Go ahead, we'll wait. Take an hour if you want. We'll even give you a hint: it's in Eastern Europe.
Find it? Didn't think so. Slovenia is the smallest country in this year's World Cup. Don't expect them to have a ton of fan support at the World Cup; most of the country will be playing and it's hard to run that much and applaud at the same time. At least this population revelation might explain why Slovenia's capital is something called Ljubljana. Total gibberish? Maybe not. They may have named it using the first letter in the names of the nine residents in town.
Australia, your national currency is called "the Australian dollar?" Unbelievable. Did you penal colonists stay up all night brainstorming on that one? Bravo, because we're sure you were all worn out from your other big tasks: exporting disgusting beers like Foster's and desperately trying to come up with screenplays for a newCrocodile Dundeesequel to kickstart your economy. You're lucky we didn't bomb your asses for makingKangaroo Jackpossible, so why don't you just stay home from the World Cup? You've already accomplished so much. Like being the only countrythat is so boring it makes an entire continent undesirable.
Since 2000 Serbia's greatest exports have been raspberries, frozen fruit and Darko Milicic. So unless we're trying to make a terrible vinaigrette or waste an NBA draft pick, Serbia's not really coming in handy too much.
If that's not bad enough, its capital is Belgrade, a name that translates into "White City." Classy move, Serbia. You'd think you'd want to change that white-power name in the wake of, you know, the giant campaign of ethnic cleansing your former president led throughout the 1990s. Why can't you jerks be more like Macedonia? Now there's a real former Yugoslavian republic for you!
World Cup tip: Don't miss out on Serbia's press conferences
Germany, your act is getting mighty old. "Please forgive us for the occasional World War or Kraftwerk! We just get so swept up in bad ideas!" You think every other nation in the world wouldn't like to invade Poland from time to time? Of course we do! But we have a little restraint. You can't just put on your spiked helmet and go traipsing around Europe like a bunch of wannabe badasses, Germany.
At least you're not a threat in this World Cup. As we saw with World War II, you guys are pretty worthless once you get onto the African continent. Stick to what you're good at, Germany: drinking beer and mispronouncing the letter "w."
Couldn't you have left well enough alone, Ghana? The Black Stars were the cinderellas of the last World Cup when they snuck into the second round, but you just had to come back for a second shot, didn't you? Look, Ghana, everyone loves an underdog story, but nobody wants to see the sequel. There's a reason nobody bought our screenplay forHoosiers 2: The Re-Hoosiering. A little friendly advice: skip the World Cup and focus on more pressing problems, like redesigning your flag. It looks like a drunk baby designed it onMario Paint.
While it may be tempting to cheer for a soccer team that handicaps itself by eschewing the traditional cleats in favor of wooden shoes, think again. A) They don't even play in wooden cleats. Annoying! What is the point of stereotypes? And B) Star forward Arjen Robben is such an egregious flopper that even Manu Ginobili refuses to take him seriously. On top of that, although the team alleges that its "Clockwork Orange" nickname refers to their orange home kit and methodical, precise passing, it's actually a not-so-subtle reference to the team's penchant for engaging in bouts of gang rape and assault while belting out "Singin' in the Rain."
Denmark's normally well-behaved fans drew some heat in 2008 when a Danish fan ran onto the pitch and attacked a ref during a Euro 2008 qualifier. Hmmm…a team that wears red and has out-of-control fans running onto the field…do you really want to cheer for soccer's version of the Phillies?
Plus, this is the country that's responsible for those gross Danish butter cookies that come in the giant tins. You know, the ones your grandmother always has. They come in a variety of shapes, but they all taste the same: Danish for "crap." Even the pretzel-shaped ones.Especially the pretzel-shaped ones. Go to Hell, Denmark. And take your awful cookies and the collected works of Hans Christian Anderson with you.
Here's the Japanese team's M.O.: beat up on little, inferior teams, then lose when it challenges the big boys. Hey, if it worked so well for your country in the 1940s, why mess with success?
Japan is so outmatched in this group that showing up is the soccer equivalent of ritual suicide, so unless you're a big fan of star midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura's foppish hair, cheering for them will only end in heartbreak. On the bright side, they're the prohibitive favorites for the 2010 World Cup of Coming Up With Disgusting Pornography.
Note: The following video is a Shunsuke Nakamura highlights video, not disgusting pornography. So, SFW! Although some American employers will probably fire you for watching soccer at work before they will for watching porn.
At first glance, Cameroon seems easy to support. The country on Africa's western coast enjoys political and social stability and even counts English as one of its official languages. It all falls apart when you meet their fans, though. Soccer aficionados know that there's no more obnoxious group of fans than the so-called "Cameroon Crazies," a collection of entitled, loathsome college kids who wear matching rugby shirts and constantly bombard opposing teams with chants that are really only moderately clever. Landon GAY-ovan? Oh, good one, Cameroon Crazies.
Sure, you won the last World Cup and are great at inducing headbutts, but we'll tell you something you're not so good at, Italy: truth in advertising. You know what we're talking about: the Olive Garden's never-ending pasta bowl. The delightful name aside, you know damn well that it ends. Every four months we learn it the hard way when some waitress in a terrible necktie and black polyester pants comes up to let us know that the Olive Garden is closing. No more pasta. "Sir, you need to leave. Now." You call that never-ending? A pox on your villa, Italy.
Oh, man. Too bad I don't know anyone this funny to take to Olive Garden.
Hey, look! It's Paraguay, one of only two countries in the entire Western Hemisphere that can't be bothered to have a coastline! Fact: Everything good in human history has taken place in or near an ocean, including the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the filming ofGirls Gone Wild. Do you want to find yourself cheering for a beach-less nation? Didn't think so. Either annex part of Brazil or leave us alone, you landlocked losers.
On a more soccer-intensive note, star striker Oscar Cardozo is nicknamed "Tacuara," which comes from the local Indian dialect and means "Big Cane." Way to hog an awesome nickname that would work so much better on several levels for Greg Oden, jackass.
Here's a good reason not to cheer for New Zealand: they're terrible. Seriously, truly bad. They're like the Detroit Lions of football. Since 2008 they've lost matches to Fiji, Thailand, and Tanzania while only managing draws against such superpowers as Bahrain and Botswana. Oh, well, at least they've bested such stout foes as Jordan, New Caedonia, and the 7th-grade team from Bret And Jemaine Middle School. Furthermore, there's no more questionable team nickname in the tournament than "the All Whites," which narrowly edged "the New Zealand Klansmen" as the team's moniker.
Bad news for Slovakia: their team's rallying cry is "At least we're not New Zealand!" For Slovakia, it's all been downhill since they decided to break away from the Czech Republic in 1992. Thought you didn't need those lousy Czechs to thrive, did you? Here's how well it worked out: it's 2010 and your national dish, BryndzovÃ© HaluÅ¡ky, is just boiled lumps of potato dough mixed with sheep cheese. Guess that will have to do until you can afford macaroni and cheese, but we're pretty sure your team is going to skip its matches to gorge itself on the real food in the World Cup cafeteria.
Yes, they're always good, and yes, they play an exciting brand of soccer. This whole one-word name thing has to end, though. It's one thing for a Pele or a Ronaldo to be mononymous, but it feels like half the damn Brazilian roster here only goes by one name. Gomes. Doni. Gilberto. Juan.Juan? Are you kidding? This would be like cheering for an NBA team where the players just went by Tom, Vince, Jamal, and Andy. Get some longer names, Brazil. For example: United States. Two names. And it's, like, the greatest country ever.
Seriously, you need a reason not to cheer for North Korea? Even if they win — which they're not going to do in the Group of Death — the end result would be Kim Jong-il editing the game video to make it look like he played all 11 positions and single handedly won the game. If you want to cheer for a team that's owned by a tiny, egomaniacal bumbler who can't win anything and isn't taken seriously by anyone, you don't have to look abroad. That's what Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins are for.
By the way, North Korea is a darkhorse in the World Cup. I mean, just look at those guys kick!
It would be bad enough if this team only contained two of the Cup's most notorious divers in Emmanuel Eboue and Didier Drogba, but the team's nickname takes its loathsomeness to a higher level. They call themselves "the Elephants." We're really hoping that's short for "The Elephants, Which We Killed in Such Giant Quantities That Our Entire Freaking Country is Named After the Ivory We Exported."
Still feeling undecided about this team? Remember when Togo's national team suffered a horrific bus attack that left three people dead and injured nine people? Guess who was around to drub the Togolese team just two months later? The Elephants! "So sorry about your tragic loss. Now, let us give you a 4-0 ass-kicking." Nice sympathy, jerks.
Sorry, Portugal. You had your time in the spotlight. Unfortunately, that time was five centuries ago, when you used your naval power to control half of the world. (In retrospect, that's only marginally more plausible than West Virginia taking over half of the globe.) Instead of trying to win at soccer, why not stick to what you know: growing cork, making fortified wines, and being Spain's love handle?
Antonio Banderas is Spanish. You could call Portugal the Melanie Griffith of countries. That's not a compliment.
Spain is a country where the unemployment rate is over 20-percent, yet the people still observe naptime every afternoon. The soccer team is every bit as industrious and productive as the rest of the population. Despite a long, proud history in the game, Spain's all-time best finish in the World Cup is fourth place all the way back in 1950.
Despite this long fruitless run, the Spanish team is considered to be one of the favorites to win this year's Cup. The team has stars like Xavi and midfielder Xabi Alonso, and it even racked up a record 35-match undefeated streak from 2007 to 2009. In short, we haven't seen such a great championship lock since this year's Cleveland Cavaliers.
Who the hell needs a pocketknife that comes with its own toothpick? We don't know about you, Swiss Miss, but in America, a land of plenty, we don't have to reuse something as disgusting as a toothpick. Go drink some of your disgusting powdered cocoa and leave us all alone. Oh, and bad news: the World Cup trophy may be gold, but it's not made of Nazi gold. Tough break for you, we know.
Yooouuuuure gonna looooooooooose!
Honduras, you claim you were an important area of Mayan settlement and still have Mayan indigenous groups living within your boundaries. So why do you evenwantto win the World Cup? Shouldn't you be more worried about getting ready for the impending 2012 apocalypse? Or coming up with a better name for your currency? "Lempira" sounds like some sort of crappy cousin of a gazelle. We'd like to say you're better than that, Honduras. But you're probably not.
Talk about greedy: Chile claims over 480,000 square miles of Antarctica as its own territory. Sure, claims to Antarctic land are technically suspended under international treaty, but those grabby Chileans just want mile after mile of frozen tundra for their very own. We understand you're the world's fifth-largest exporter of wine, Chile. But what do you want all that snow for? You understand that chilled wine coolers are evil, right? Oh, and your country's flag is quite possibly the laziest plagiarism of the Texas state flag that we've ever seen.
You better hope we don't tell Texas about this, Chile. They have pick-up truck gun racks there with more weapons than your entire military.
Here comes the home team! We already cheered for your rugby team inInvictus, South Africa, so asking us to cheer for your hopeless soccer team is a bit of a stretch. Plus, you're a country with three capital cities. Three! What the hell is that all about? Was one capital city not enough to hold all of the corruption? Three capitals was your worst idea since you jailed Morgan Freeman as a political prisoner for all those years. He was supposed to be inZihuatanejo with Tim Robbins.
Come on, Mexicans. Did you not get the memo? You don't need a team of your own. We Americans will take care of representing you. Have you not seen those spiffy NBA jerseys that say "Los Suns" or "El Heat?" Not only are those perfect examples of Spanish vocabulary and grammar, they're also a sign that you don't evenneedyour own teams. Our American teams will count for all North America! (Except for Canada. They know what they did.) Sure, we'll hold onto the trophy, and we won't let you into the States to see it — that would just be downright reckless on our part — but if Team USA wins, we all win!
Uruguay, you greedy bastards. There are only 3.5 million people in your entire country, and you already have two World Cup championships from 1930 and 1950. Yet you keep coming back for more. How about letting another country have a chance, jerks? You're already one of the richest countries in South America, yet you have to show up and try to beat up on all the less fortunate nations. Screw Uruguay. Here in America we don't take kindly to nations who want to hog a disproportionate share of the world's resources.
And, really, you produce no oil in Uruguay? None? What good are you?
France, this is how pathetic you are: we don't even need to make a joke here. There are so many negative stereotypes and facts about you guys that the reader is already cringing just from seeing your country's name in print. Enjoy the rest of the world's pity and scorn, you bunch of smelly weaklings! We'd say that bad karma from Thierry Henry's handball against Ireland will probably come back to bite you, but when you're already an international laughingstock, how much worse can things really get?
Oh, what a shock. France celebrating someone taking a dive:
Here's all you need to know about Argentina: their coach, noted handball artist Diego Maradona, has promised to run naked through the streets if they win. The same Diego Maradona who once weighed a solid three bills before getting his stomach stapled. There's only one thing worse than seeing a naked fat guy run through the streets: seeing a naked formerly fat guy do it. Those are stretch marks that will haunt your nightmares until the 2014 World Cup. Try being more like America, Argentina. We keep our fatties in hiding until we need them for hilarious physical comedy or a weight-loss reality show.
Here is a video of Diego Maradona singing. Enjoy the walk-through by the teammate wearing, no lie, a purse.
Nigeria's new president is named — and this is not a joke — Goodluck Jonathan. Your president has a first name that most people would think is too ridiculous to give a cat? Were his brothers Topofthemorning Jonathan and Seasonsgreetings Jonathan just not qualified to rise to such an office? Try sticking with one of the more tried and true presidential first names for the next election cycle, Nigeria. Some suggestions: John, James, William, or Barack.
Also, your nation's greatest novel isThings Fall Apart? We got stuck with that crapfest in freshman English. More likeReader Falls Asleep. At least is didn't have a character named Goodluck, though; that would have made it a million times worse.
Look, South Korea, we don't mind buying your well-made, reasonably priced Hyundais, and we don't mind coming to your aid whenever the tiny sociopath who's running the country above you gets a bit too frisky. Until you come over here and physically take Chan Ho Park back, though, all bets are off when it comes to supporting you in sports.
Sorry, Greece. We'll give you full credit for being one of the cradles of civilization and for inventing baklava, but that still doesn't excuse you for making 9thgrade English class totally unbearable. Seriously, we needed theIliadAND theOdyssey? Wouldn't just one of those have been boring enough for you guys? Bunch of toga-wearing sadists.
Also, why are all of your "tourist attractions" just a bunch of rubble and buildings that have fallen down? If we wanted to see dilapidated urban decay, we could have stayed in the States and gone to Detroit. Zeus, Jesus, a bottle of ouzo…it doesn't matter who you pray to, your team isn't making it out of group play.