Team USA’s World Cup run ended with a heartbreaking loss to Belgium last Tuesday. After 120 minutes of chest-grabbing, butt-clenching action, we all needed a little time to recover. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t watch a single second of the World Cup over the weekend. How could any flag-waving, firework-blasting, Springsteen-loving American root for another country on Fourth of July weekend?!
Well, now that the sting has worn off a little, it’s time to put on our big-girl pants and get back to watching. The World Cup only comes around every four years -- we’re not gonna pout our way through the final rounds, missing out on all the fun.
Of course, it’s much more exciting to watch sports with a rooting interest. So with Team USA out of the running, we need to pick a new side to cheer for. I think we all know the real American way to choose a team is by pure, factually unsupported xenophobia. Of the remaining teams, which do we hate the least? (This could be for reasons good or bad, valid or invented. We’re America, we’re not concerned with facts or truths.)
So with that in mind, I present to you: The Hater’s Guide to the World Cup Semifinals.
Let’s just start with the obvious: German food is the absolute wurst. Specialties include sauerbraten, which is meat -- sometimes horse meat -- marinated in vinegar, and blutwurst, sausage made from fresh goose blood. If I wanna eat weird animal parts stuffed into intestinal casing I’ll get an Earl Campbell hot link. That’s sausage made by a real American football hero!
Even if the watch party is serving Kartoffelpuffer (delicious potato pancakes) you’re still surrounded by a bunch of fans so serious you can’t tell if they’re watching a soccer game or a funeral. Hans Beinholtz from “The Daily Show” and Dieter from “Sprockets” have shown that folks from the Deutschland are quite a humorless bunch. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised -- these are the people who invented schadenfreude. Literally. They invented a word that means “delight in the misfortune of others.” Talk about a tough crowd.
And I still haven’t let Germany off the hook for letting Lou Bega escape national borders. Is that guy serious? It’s time to man up and tell Monica, Erica, Rita and Tina about each other. You can’t have a “little bit of” all of them in your life, Lou. And since when are Germans experts on the mambo?
Los Geht’s Deutschland!
Planning to jump on Brazil’s bandwagon? You might as well wear a Heat jersey to the watch party, ya frontrunner. You think Brazil -- looking for a record sixth World Cup win -- really needs more fans? They’re the Yankees of futbol -- they get all the calls, have the cockiest fans and strut with the smug sort of swagger reserved for perennial contenders.
That swagger extends to the women of Brazil, creatures scientifically proven to be the No. 1 cause of crippling American insecurity. Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima -- is there some sort of Victoria’s Secret factory down there that mass produces thigh gaps and perfect abs? Listen Lima, you either get to be naturally thin or have naturally large breasts. You don’t get both. That’s not how it works. A body like that defies the order of the universe and it’s clear you cannot be trusted.
Let’s say you do muster up the confidence to don the same green and yellow kit as the world’s most beautiful women -- you’ll then be faced with the challenge of rooting for men who are far bigger divas than any of those supermodels. Almost all of Brazil’s players go by just one name -- Victor, Oscar, Paulino and Fernandhino. Hernanes, Ramires, Marcelo and Maicon. Jô. Hulk. Cher. Charo. Björk. There aren’t enough spotlights in the world to keep all those Madonnas happy. And they’re even worse actors. Los Canarinhos’ flops are less believable than the Material Girl’s performance in “Swept Away.”
According to the Internet, the Netherlands is a small country full of windmills, tulips, bicycles and pot brownies. They’ve been making shoes completely out of wood for years and the rest of the world has gotten such a good laugh out of it no one has told them how comfortable canvas is.
The Dutch boast arguably the most obnoxious player in futbol, Arjen Robben, while also fielding one of the feistiest Nigel “The Lawnmower” de Jong. While de Jong is out of the tournament with a groin tear, Robben will be on the pitch Wednesday, throwing his body about as if in a fight with an invisible man. If you took the combined diving powers of LeBron James, Manu Ginobli, Sidney Crosby, the Sedin twins and Greg Louganis, you might begin to approach the level of floppery achieved by Robben on a regular basis.
If you’re looking for a side that might win it all, don’t look to the Netherlands.The Oranje hold the record for most appearances in a World Cup final without a win, finishing second in 1974, 1978 and 2010.
One of the most celebrated moments in Argentine soccer history is a hand ball.
Describing the first goal he scored in the 1986 World Cup as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” superstar Diego Maradona claimed an assist from the man above to explain a blatant breach of the rules. Even Tim Tebow would call shenanigans on that one.
While the country still fawns over Maradona, they don’t appreciate their freakishly talented new star, Lionel Messi. Some don’t consider Messi a true Argentine because he left the country when he was 13 to sign with Barcelona. It was the right choice for the young Messi, as the club offered to pay for medical bills associated with a hormonal deficiency in his bones. Even though he’s on the Argentine side for the Cup, leading them with dazzling skills and dramatic goals, there are still those who wish for his failure.
Meantime, John Brooks, the savior for the Americans in their win over Ghana, has never even lived in the United States! We don’t care! When it comes to soccer, we’ll take anyone that helps us win. With that attitude in mind, it would be hard to pull on that striped, white-and-sky-blue jersey and join any crowd that can’t appreciate the greatest player on earth wearing their kit.
So what’ll it be? Cheer for the big-talking, oft-flopping Brazilians, or root for the Germans, with their stone-faced, blutwurst-loving fans? Join sides with the rule-breakers of Argentina, or take up with the always-a-bridesmaid Dutch?
The choice is yours. Hate wisely.