Originally written for eVent! [ep] magazine on 05/18/06.
The World Cup of Football, that's soccer to us North Americans, starts in June to be shown to a largely indifferent continent. Despite being the largest participation sport in North America, unlike the rest of the world we just do not care about football's largest tournament. Well all right let's not forget Mexico, in Mexico they haven't been able to sleep since February in anticipation of their Spanish language commentators screaming the word "Goal" out at the top of their lungs, holding the word like a lyric from a Celine Dion song.
Let's face it the rest of the world loves the World Cup while us Canadians, despite far more of us playing soccer than hockey, we just could not care about the footie. Footie of course is short for football, and a far different thing than footsie. Canada is all about playing footsie, especially with girls.
So what do you need to know about the World Cup to be able to enjoy it? Glad you asked because this is your official eVent! Guide to the World Cup 2006. I suggest you cut this page out of the paper and tack it onto your fridge with fruit themed magnets, that way if anyone asks you any World Cup themed questions, you can refer to this eVent! Guide to the World Cup 2006 quickly and sound like you've always loved the football.
Who gets to play?
Countries must qualify for the World Cup by playing a series of qualifying games against other teams in their region. The historic success of teams in each region determines how many teams they get to send. Europe gets to send more teams than Asia for example. Canada rarely ever qualifies for the World Cup, so if you're a big Thomas Radzinski fan then you're going to be sorely disappointed.
Is that David Beckham fellow playing? He's a cutie.
Yes David Beckham will be playing for England, in fact he's the captain of the team. David Beckham of course is the world's most famous footballer, having married a Spice Girl and had a series of what in Europe are considered stylish haircuts.
Who else is cute?
Don't you want to know something about football? No? Okay well France striker Thierry Henry is very attractive in a modern metro-sexual sort of way, though he shuns the silly haircuts and giant tattoos dedicated to his children that Beckham likes. England striker Michael Owen might draw your attention in that he looks like the boy from Iowa that you always told your diary you wanted to marry.
Where is the World Cup held?
This year it's being held around Germany. Like the Olympics the World Cup dog and pony show moves around the world every four years with a different host country every time. Unlike the Olympics it's a sport the entire world cares about, attends and actually wants to watch.
Who is going to win?
Brazil. No other country can compete with the number of superstars that Brazil has, and they've proven in the past that they're able to come together and play beautiful football. Having won the last World Cup they were always going to be favorites but with injuries to the England team and the German team being largely disappointing recently, it seems like Brazil will probably keep the trophy.
Nope. No chance. Sorry. The injury / sex scandal involving their key player(s) has thrown the entire nation into chaos and its unlikely that the players will be able to put it past them. At least they have basketball / javelin / origami to fall back on.
Who are you cheering for?
Ah, the most important question of them all. Well I'll be pulling for England myself though due to an injury to striker Wayne Rooney the team's chances have taken a severe hit. Hopefully though with the tournament's strongest midfield England is going to be able to create goals from other places. If Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard can play like he has in recent big matches then they have a shot; though not really because they're not Brazil.
I really don't like soccer, errr... football so why should I care?
The World Cup is being hosted in Germany. It is traditional for fans not attending to watch the game in pubs and bars. Calculate the time difference between Kelowna and Germany. That's right carry the one... and presto, you have a perfect excuse to sit in a sports bar in the early afternoon downing beers and shouting at the television screen with a bunch of people with funny accents.