Fever pitch – the alternative World Cup

These past weeks must have been sheer hell for anyone not passionate about football. Most people’s social lives and work schedules have been severely disrupted – “are they showing the match, dear?” – by Brazilian kick-off times five, six or even seven hours out of sinc with our body clocks, leading to many a bleary-eyed morning, made only partially more bearable by the use of heavily-tinted sunglasses.
The good news for you is that the World Cup will be done and dusted for another four years in just 10 days’ time. But for the rest of us ‘soccer-holics’, spending day and night glued to the television screen may not be the only reason for sleep deprivation.
‘Football’ and ‘passion’ are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In Brazil, different countries have widely divergent rules on what is and what is not permitted during the tournament.
The Bosnia-Herzegovina team, for example, was under a strict no-sex curfew, although their manager said they could please themselves! Unsurprisingly, that policy was reflected in their play until coming up against their possibly even more chaste Iranian counterparts – albeit that effort proving a case of too little too late, and the tiny Balkan nation is on its way back to rejoin their spouses.
In contrast, the host country’s players are allowed to have as much sex as they like, so long as it is not too ‘acrobatic’. As a result, Neymar and company have scored freely, restricting their more adventurous moves to the football pitch while amassing seven goals.
Those instructions will have sat equally well with England, whose idea of ‘acrobatic sex’ is to stand on one foot while taking the other sock off, evoking a somewhat similar image to the three performances during official play time which were as pedestrian.
The Russians had to abstain in every way – I presume that included Vodka – and managed to get the ball in the back of the net just the once, while similar draconian edicts showed more beneficial results for the men from Chile and Mexico who advanced into the second round.
‘Sexy time’ is permitted for the Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Uruguayans and Americans, who all showed themselves to be very energetic as well as successful on the pitch, while one can only assume that equal liberties, extended to their Spanish, Italian and Australian colleagues, were abused as all left the stage rather prematurely.
Interestingly, imposing some moderation such as the French “oui” but not all night long, or the more specific Nigerian rule of “yes” to wives but “no” to girlfriends, seems to have provided the desired stimuli as both remain in the competition at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto might come to regret his pre-tournament statement: “I can assure, with no doubts, they will be able to ‘enjoy themselves’ just as soon as they qualify for the next round.”
The England group underdogs did just that and it will have been revealing what state the players were in when facing up to Greece last Sunday. Portugal’s stance on the matter is an unknown quantity, but given Ronaldo’s limp performances to date, the great man does not seem interested either way!
Fans can be passionate too. The last time the World Cup was held in Germany, local press reported that the tournament had produced an unprecedented baby boom, a fact which may have helped produce the next generation of great footballers.
One observer – or should that be voyeur? – at the time wryly commented: “I have no idea how soccer victories (Germany reached the semi-finals) increase fertility rates and libido in a nation, but leave it to the Germans to find a correlation.”
On a more sobering note, Brazil’s one million-plus prostitutes have also been eagerly awaiting ‘their’ World Cup. Prior to the big kick-off, English classes have been mobbed by the ladies of the night while the countless licensed brothels were busy installing credit card facilities.
Belo Horizonte alone, already infamous for hosting England’s 1950 defeat to the USA at the hands of a hearse driver and a school teacher, boasts over 12,000 watering holes (no pun intended!), making it the ‘bar capital’ of the world.
Die-hard English fans were again present this time around to witness their heroes’ exit from the competition and will have had plenty of opportunities to drown their sorrows.
Personally, (at the time of writing) I am about to head for the somewhat less lewd ambience of Alvor’s Crow’s Nest to follow the fortunes of Germany, the USA, Ghana and Portugal, all battling to qualify from a still ‘open’ Group G during their final encounters.
To calm the nerves and line the stomach, I quite fancy a ‘beer on toast’. Birra Spalmablie is an Italian spread – don’t tell Mr Suarez! – from a craft brewery near Lazio. Its 40% beer content makes for a deliciously boozy alternative to other half-time snacks.
Unfortunately, it’s not yet available in the Algarve so I will probably have to stick to my regular ‘football special’ Doner Kebab, washed down with ample quantities of San Miguel – saúde!
By Skip Bandele
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Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 15 years ago and has been with the Algarve Resident since 2003. His writing reflects views and opinions formed while living in Africa, Germany and England as well as Portugal.