Thursday, December 02, 2010

World Cup 2018/2022 The Winners Revealed: A Live Blog!

11:30 ET--And with that our conversations have devolved into MacKenzie family hijinx. Including the invention of a new wrestler (Swift Justice, dressed up like a judge with the finishing move: "The Gavel") and continued berating of Alexi Lalas ("Why did ridiculing Fifa officials during the hour leading up to the announcement seem like a good idea?"). There's a lot to like about these decisions: it spreads the game to new parts of the world, it lets us all share in the fun, it may lead to great innovations in solar technologies for the Qatari world cup which benefit the world, and it stops Vladmir Putin from going on an assassination spree throughout Europe, which is also appreciated. There's a lot to fix too (Russia's venues being spread out throughout that massive continent, the fact that Qatar know...Qatar) but throughout that time, we'll be here to analyze the World cup and all its ancillary silliness straight through to the end. From three Montanans lost in the lonely East, I'm Ben MacKenzie. Good night.

11:22 ET--Quoth Simon, who has just woken up and gotten the news: "Money always wins, and Alexi Lalas shoudl shut his damn mouth for jinxing us!"

11:20 ET--Meanwhile Qatar is going to have a 30 mile ring containing the best soccer players in the world (except the poor blokes from Wales), playing at Stadiums that they have to find a way to cool, and ensuring security at a level high enough to convince fans/corporate partners to buy in, while offsetting the lost alchohol revenue that's hampered by Sharia law...and then they will tear it all down and send it to Malawi

11:11 ET--Matt and I have been jibber-jabbering about the other issues related to this outcome, and we still think that England's been a little too smug in their bids. But all that can be fixed if Dame Helen Mirren sends out a come hither look. (Keep your Hiedi Klums, Charlize Therons and Nicole Kidmen...just give us the DAME!)

10:53 ET--All Xenophobia in this post was brought to you by George W. Bush's new memoir: Deciding Things, exclusively at Borders

10:51 ET--The award for first vaguely racist comment from Nick on ESPN's live chat: "Security nightmare 2022" Matt's rebuttal: "I would think that would be the one time it doesn't happen. 'Yo, let's go blow up a place!' 'Nah,'s on!' "

10:50 ET--Before 2022, says Matt, "needs to improve its defense but it has tremendous upside potential and length"

10:47 ET--We should note that Matt's super-hot Scorching-burn on England was brought to you by TGIFs brand Jalapeno Poppers, available in your grocer's freezer section

10:44 ET--Matt says it best: "WOWZA!"

10:43 ET--Here again is Sepp doing his old man bit fumbling for the envelope and the winner is........................................Qatar

10:42 ET--Matt's gut is 1 for 1...he claims it never lies. (He also notices that England has a great deal of other things going for it...but it really ought to progress past the Quarter Finals in a cup held outside of England before we're impressed)

10:41 ET--Slightly awkward moment, Blatter thanks the losers...but I didn't hear him mention England...that'll teach you to criticise FIFA England

10:40 ET--Attention shifts to 2022, and the question is Qatar, Australia or the USA...but a little more blather before we get there

10:39 ET--England comes up short again...good thing Prince William got the proposal in before coming up empty here.

10:37 ET--2018 goes to.......RUSSIA!

10:36 ET--Blatter keeps picking up the envelope and putting it down, "and now, and now"...get it done SEPP!

10:35 ET--High drama has occured as I had to run quickly and do my actual job, but fortunately Sepp Blatter has been blathering. So nothing has been missed

10:30 ET--"Lazy Setup, brought to you by sonic Drive in. Sonic, we give you Dialisis" (Matt)

10:29 ET--Here comes Jerome Valke...the Jimmy Fallon of Fifa

10:28 ET--Here we go!

10:25 ET--Same logic holds for Russia, FIFA's attempt to deliver the deathblow to Hockey... Matt: "Soccer V.s. Hockey Deathmatch? I'd go with the Hockey Players."

10:22 ET--Quick debate, Matt: Does the world's most popular sport need growth?, Ben: Not really, but they'd love to have more countries like America who take a hosting turn and then become bigger consumers of the game over the next 20 years Matt: "So the Aussies are a more desirable target because Soccer isn't the No. 1 Sport behind swimming, Aussie Rules and what...Alpine Skiing? Quidditch? Mad Max Recreation Derbies?" Ben: "I think it's keg standing actually"

10:16 ET--Our colleagues at CNN (Aka Uncle Ted's Big Ol' House O' News) says that the announcement will be made at 9:30... Matt: "Way to build the suspense Blatter!"

10:13 ET--Our penatrating analysis (Matt: The Cup in the desert in the middle of the summer is a bad idea/Ben: And the idea of 9 stadiums with super huge air conditioning systems seems like a lot of electricity to use up for a supposedly "green World Cup")

10:11 ET--Our Mideast expert, Matt MacKenzie says: "just an oil deal, they happen at every meal"

10:10 ET--ESPN (the evil empire to our plucky rebel batallion) is reporting that there's a short delay, but Qatari bid reps are shaking hands happily....

10:08 ET--Wondering why things are still not announced, Matt's theory: Russian mafia pulling some last second strings, or Putin with a sniper rifle on a nearby rooftop, (Bourne Supremecy style)

10:06 ET--Matt and I once tried to launch our own cable news channel "MacKenzie Low Budget Sports"--stupid ESPN...their monopoly avoids soccer coverage

10:03 ET--And in 1 minute Matt has come to the same conclusion I arrived at over a month of research

10:02 ET--And Matt makes his predictions: "Here's my complete and total gut reaction prediction, which is based on nothing other than guts, know how and stomach-ness, Ready? 2018 Russia, 2022 Aussies

10:01 ET--And...they're late getting started...stupid Swiss...BUY A WATCH ALREADY!!

9:56 ET--Matt MacKenzie is in the house! This is his first live blog...mine too come to think of it

9:54 ET--And meanwhile in the 2018 race:

England (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote #1/FIFA #2)

Netherlands/Belgium (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote # 3/FIFA #4)

Spain/Portugal (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote #4/FIFA #3)

Russia (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote #2/FIFA #1)

9:51 ET-- Just to play an amusing game to pass the time, Here are the bids again as well as who I would vote for/who I think FIFA will vote for)
2022: Australia

(Our Bid Analyses) (My vote: #2/FIFA #1)

Japan (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote #5/FIFA #5)

Qatar (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote #4/FIFA #3)

South Korea (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote #3/FIFA #4)

USA (Our Bid Analyses) (My vote #1/FIFA #2)

9:46 ET--
In 15 minutes or so the world's soccer nerds will turn their attentions to Zurich in order to hear which countries have been selected for the billion dollar boondoggle known as the FIFA World Cup. 9 bid teams are dreaming and hoping of the day when the world will come to play on their shores (bringing lots of money with them).

Here at the Montana Hooligans' World Cup Center, we've (okay, I've) been analyzing the bids and have come up with my own opinions and biases...but the odds that my opinions and biases are the same as a bunch of sextagenarians in Zurich are relatively scant, so...take all of this with a grain of salt.

I'll try to blog as I see things, so keep hitting refresh, and hopefully witticism will come with it.
--Scruffy Rube

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


With the stars of world futbol alining in Zurich, we quickly dash off the final installment of our Meet the Bid series, highlighting the long perceived front-runner for the 2018 games, England

Tagline: The World Invited.

What the Tagline Should Be: The World Invited...but seriously you guys, show up this time.

You Tube Plea:

Pros: Well, start with the fact that the game has its origins in England. England is the most dominant futbol force on the planet (even if it's team plays like a pack of three-toed sloths in World Cup outrounds). Its league is the most popular. Its players are (at least among) the most well known. Its citizens play and watch more than anyone else on the planet (and drink more Guiness while doing it!). It last hosted in 1966 and is right around the due date for their 50 year return cup (Italy, France and Brazil all waited that long). They've played the game and bid frequently throughout the 90s and 00's, now they want it, the deserve it, by god we all better come to their party!

Cons: When I first heard that England was bidding for 2018 it was widely assumed that the bidding was a mere formality. They wanted it, they'd waited for it, by god they deserved it. If that sounds a little smug to you...that's because it is; and surprisingly for some people smugness is a turn off (did you read that VH1? Sound romantic advice. Can I have a reality tv show now?). And though some are still concerned about the possibility of hooligans and racist fan chants (like you might be if you're considering bringing 31 teams from disparate countries to an insulated, overcrowded, occasionally xenophobic island), the biggest detraction from the English bid is the overzealous British press. In the last months, English newspapers have published harsh expose's accusing several FIFA board members of intending to sell votes for the cup in exchange for youth programs in their countries. While journalistic integrity can be cool, FIFA doesn't exactly like being publicly attacked by people who want them to do favors. (I really do almost expect Sepp Blatter to shout: "Sticks and Stones may break my bones...but your words also hurt me!!!")

Summary: It really boils down to a tough choice for FIFA: give the World Cup to England and rake in obscene gobs of money while exposing yourself to extended criticism in the British press, or don't give England the world cup, make large sums of money elsewhere while exposing yourself to a brief critique and slander in the British press.

Chances: No matter how pessimistic the British have become, never underestimate FIFA's desire for the cash. They're still the front-runners.

Well, that covers the bids. We'll be back Thursday morning with a live blog coverage of the host unveilings 8 AM Mountain...the only time zone that matters.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Thanksgiving holiday led us to push this post back a little bit, but that just means a little more concentrated commentary in the next days before the winning bids are announced. Now, let's get to Spain/Portugal's bid:

Tagline: (I've looked for a while, can't find one)

What the Tagline Should Be: The Iberian Peninsula is SOOOOooooooOOOO hot right now we don't even need a tagline.

You Tube Plea:

Pros: As the promotional video suggests, Spain and Portugal are very beautiful countries, full of very attractive people who like futbol very very much. Undoubtedly the popularity of futbol among the people who live in Spain and Portugal ensures that (unlike the swathes of empty seats around South Africa this year) every match will be a sell out. Moreover, the futbol played on the peninsula is also incredibly popular around the world. The domestic leagues, especially the Madrid/Barcelona matches, draw a global audience (it's huge in Seoul). Then there's the intense popularity of midfielder/professional-tabloid-headline Christiano Renaldo (young enough to be my son, pretty enough to be my daughter). And might recall that the Spaniards won the world cup this summer, especially if you know or have met any Spanish citizen...anywhere.

Cons: It's great that Iberian soccer is hot right now, but what the hell difference does right now make in 8 years when Real Madrid has imploded like Lehman Brothers, and Christiano Ronaldo retires and turns into fat Elvis? There's also the fact that FIFA has said they don't want to have joint hosts again (In 2002, Korea and Japan hosted like a couple that broke-up right before hosting a New Years party). Oh, and the fact that bid officials have been accused of swapping votes with the Qatari bid officials ( es bueno!) And finally, there's the financial situation of both countries. While Iberian soccer might cool off, Iberian financial distress is just heating up. (If economists are proven correct, a Spain/Portugal world cup might end up being as smart a move as Greece/Ireland....ZING--ECONOMIC JOKE!!)

Summary: Throughout that promotional video I kept thinking: "I want to go to Spain and Portugal"...the bid organizers are basically counting on that sentiment and a few Ronaldo smiles to sway the voters.

Chances: Don't get me wrong, Ronaldo's smile has led to the polar ice-caps melting, but I just think there's too much stacked against them to make the bid a favorite.

Next time on Meet the Bid: England 2018 ("Okay, this isn't funny anymore, give us the World Cup again!")

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


After finishing the analysis of all 2022 candidates, we move on to the last three bids, each for the 2018 starting with Mother Russia...

Tagline: "Ready to Inspire"

What the Tagline Should Be: "Ready to Inspire....FEAR!"

You Tube Plea:

Pros: If you've read any of the other posts, you know that one of the best things you can do to boost your World Cup bid is offer FIFA a new market to tap into. Growing the game is one of their biggest passions, and when a country starts making more money, the powers that be perk up considerably. (Why else would Brazil be set to host the World Cup and Olympics in the span of 2 years?) Russia (the R in the BRIC gang) is set to offer FIFA an emerging market, and with 8 years before kickoff they should have plenty of time to take all their money and all their clout and fix any problems FIFA identifies. Additionally, Russia can be a ground breaking host offering the first Eurasian cup and offer a rallying point for a diverse and often tenuous alliance of ethnic groups (That's right FIFA, Money & PEACE!). Finally, there's the fact that Russia is looking for their coming out party as a new world power (like Beijing's Olympics)...and the powers that be in Russia, usually get what they want...(or else, FIFA!)

Cons: Let's start with the fact that Russia is HUGE. So the basic logistics of getting around for national team fans is difficult (Heck between St. Petersburg and the other most northern city (Yaroslav) it's 10 hours by train...) So the transport logistics for teams and fans would be almost always solved with plane travel--normally fine, but a little rough given the push for greener games. Then there's the whole problem of the stadia, because while Russia has some stadiums, they need new ones, better ones (ones without the foul stank of communist despair) and while the economy is booming...the bureaucracy is a little tough to navigate...meaning they'll probably need all 8 years. And on that note, it might be a little hard to sell Russia as a brand new nation as long as Vladmir Putin (aka Humanoid Dobby the House Elf) is creating new positions to keep himself in power and attempting to poison former spies. (Doesn't really seem like Fair Play, does it?)

Summary: Russia's an awfully attractive site, especially in a race against other European countries that have already hosted. But the country's also a little/a lot crazypants...not good

Chances: If Vladmir Putin will reportedly turn up to make an emotional appeal, good...If Vladmir Putin turns up to make a death threat, REALLY GOOD!

Next time on Meet the Bid: Spain/Portugal 2018 ("So, we've been successful recently...reward us some more please!!")

Monday, November 22, 2010


Today we conclude our look at the 2022 World Cup Bids with a quick analysis of Australia's quest to host the cup.

Tagline: Come Play!

What the Tagline Should be: Come play, get drunk, see a bunch of nature and watch some know...whatever!

You Tube Plea:

Pros: Australia offers a lot of the things FIFA likes best: a burgeoning market for its product, money, distinctive culture, money, adorable children who want to learn the game, money and pretty girls. (That's the problem with Qatar, not enough bikinis!) Other benefits are spelled out in greater depth in this video with (speaking of pretty girls) Nicole Kidman. Undoubtedly the most important benefit is the potential riches involved in turning a sports mad nation into a futbol mad nation. Do that and, in the words of Rod Blagoevich "YOU ARE F*&*ING GOLDEN!". Moreover an Australian cup would offer a small nod to the forgotten step child of FIFA, the Oceania Football Confederation (otherwise known as New Zealand and the Pips). Finally, judging by that promotional video, Australians have superhuman kicking would behoove us all to stay on their good side.

Cons: That whole "burgeoning market" thing cuts two ways. While futbol's increasingly popular down under, it still trails Aussie Rules Football, Rugby, Surfing and Drinking Beer as the nation's primary entertainments. For better or worse, Australia is banking on the World Cup to spur interest in the game and push soccer to number one (I would mock this...but America's doing the same thing). Speaking of the land up over, Australia is generally seen to be in direct competition with the US (with Japan, Korea and Qatar, lagging behind). Normally, this would be great given international antipathy towards rewarding the US with still more money. BUT a quick look at the websites of each bid show a stark contrast in the reception the cup might receive in each country. Over 1 Million people have signed a petition on the US site, the petition on Australia's site has 325,000 (I know our education system stinks...but 1 Million is still more than 325,000...right?). And while Australia's connection with Oceania seems like a bonus, the recent banishment of Oceania's chief from voting on the World Cup host might turn that into an albatross.

Summary: It's a good bid, fair dinkum. But the lack of passion might bite them in the bum.

Chances: FIFA loves growing the game, so even with an uncertain national popularity, the promise of liquor, money and pretty girls, might make Australia too good to pass up.

Next Time on Meet the Bids: Russia 2018 (In Russian World Cup Bid...Futbol Plays YOU!!!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Meet the Bid: USA 2022

Tagline: The Game is in US
What the Tagline Should Be: The Game is in all of us, and all of us are in the US, ergo, the game is in US.
You Tube Plea:

(Preface: I will try to be as neutral as I can...if I fail, I trust someone will tell me)

Pros: Strange as it may sound, America actually might have international interests on our side for once. If we talk about spreading the game around to every continent, then North America will undoubtedly be the most overlooked continent in 2022. Since the US welcomed the world in 1994 every continent will have hosted a World Cup (including Europe 3 times...not that we're jealous or anything). As the only North American country in the game, we've got continental rotation on our side. Moreover our last big sporting event on US soil was the Salt Lake City winter games of 2002 (though there's an outside chance that Bozeman might bid on the Winter Olympics in 2022...VERY outside). So some might say we're overdue (some might also say that we're a pack of imperialist dogs who want to rule the world...but that's for the con section). The stadia have already been built, the fan base has been growing with every world cup, the money should continue to flow, corporations will be on board and we offer more cultural diversity than you can shake a stick at. (Go ahead, try, you'll probably need a redwood).

Cons: Europe is going to get the games in 2018, and England is the likely front runner there, so the prospect of two straight cups that line the pockets of pasty anglos might get the diverse FIFA board to pass. (Though, to rebut that argument, so many companies are owned by WASPy types it doesn't matter where it's held Coke and Nike are going to get their cuts.) It also doesn't help matters that the game is still a niche sport in the US, belittled by the mainstream media, with a minute portion of the population that's really fanatical and no real club presence on the international stage. (Again, to rebut, we do love the World Cup because it's the best of the best...and we do like the best of the best.) Finally, we are a pack of imperialist dogs who want to rule the world (Rebuttal: PBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBT!) But seriously, the more anti-immigration we get, the more this World Cup bid sends a mixed message. (FYI: There would be scheduled games in Pheonix...would be pretty funny to see Lionel Messi deported for lacking proper documentation right before a match against the home team...scandalous...but funny.)

Summary: We've got the money, we've got the infrastructure, we've got the accessibility, we've got the continental politics, we've got the diversity and we've got Morgan Freeman. (He's not Mandela, but he has played him on film!) To be sure, I'm biased...but it's my pbbbbbt!

Chances: Let's say the US has as much chance of getting the 2022 world cup as your average sports talk radio guy has of ignoring the news that the US got the 2022 world cup...which is to say, REALLY DARN GOOD.

Next Time on Meet the Bids: Australia 2022--Why give it to America in 2022, when you can give it to America circa 1994?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Tagline: 208 Smiles/Dream
What the Tagline Should Be: 208 Countries We Can Market our Electronics to!
You Tube Plea:

Pros: Did you know that Japan makes a lot of electronic devices?!? They do!! And they hope to make many more electronic devices within the next 12 years, which is just fine because the world plans on continuing to buy said electronic devices as long as Japan makes them. (This is all my snarky way of saying that Japan has the business might and economic infrastructure to host whatever they want whenever they can have it.) Japan also has a leg up in the competition based on being significantly less European than the WASP-y sorts who populate Australia and the U. S. of A. Add to this the stated goal of making life better for children around the world and FIFA can check off both the: "diversify the game" and "help the little children" boxes on its bid checklist.

Cons: Like Korea, Japan's got the not insignificant albatross of having hosted within the past twenty years hung 'round its neck. It also has the somewhat specious argument of creating great technologies if it is made a host. C'mon, Japan, let's not be coy, you'll be able to make money with those technologies no matter where the cup is and we will all pay you handsomely for it. There's also the somewhat weird suggestion that Japan will invite children from every country on the world to their country...making them the first World Cup host to model their bid on a plot device from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.

Summary: No doubt, Japan could easily host the World Cup, but based purely on the reports I read and websites I visit during my research for these posts (all 20 minutes of it), I seriously doubt that Japan will host the World Cup. They have no advertisements, make no big waves, merit no special mention in voting speculation. They could do it for sure, but whether or not they get the chance is another matter entirely.

Chances: About as likely as an eight-year-old farm boy asking for Sashimi.

Next Time on Meet the Bids: USA, 2022 (Won't someone please give us an international sporting event?)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Tagline: More Than a Game
What the Tagline Should Be: More Than a's also a Way to One-up Japan.
You Tube Plea:

Pros: Have you ever started watching a hit tv show half-way through? It debuted and you didn't notice, it was on-air for a couple years and you were always busy or watching something else. Nobody really talked about it except to say: "oh yeah, I love that show!"? Well in global affairs that's Korea...the How I Met Your Mother of developing markets. As the You Tube video explains (in the kind of perfect presentation style that I have to give an A for content), Korea has stability politically and economically; its infrastructure is great and it offers a flair of the foreign with the comforts of home (it's EPCOT-tastic!). Also, Korea benefits from its competition: with FIFA honor bound to give the 2018 World Cup to some pasty Europeans it may not want to give the following World Cup to pasty descendants of pasty Europeans (that means bad news for the US and Australia) and the fine-tuned precision of Kora's bid seems a better alternative than Qatar and Japan.

Cons: Only one country has hosted the World Cup twice in twenty years (Mexico 1970 & 1986...and they only got the '86 gig after Columbia spent all its stadium money on Carlos Valderamma's hair gel), most countries have to wait 60 years before they host again (Italy, France, Brazil) and while Korea's great, it might be a little presumptuous to assume they deserve it again so soon. Moreover, the "great fan culture" cuts both ways, if Koreans love football so much they'll watch even if it's not in Korea. So if FIFA wants to grow the game, Korea might not be its best option. (Also: where were the adorable kids in that video? C'mon Korea you're missing the appeal to our heartstrings) It also might be a little naive to assume that FIFA can solve the problem of North Korea by giving South Korea the World Cup (Can you see Kim Jong Il saying: "well, shoot! I was going to keep imprisoning dissidents and asserting my iron will until I died and handed over power to my equally ruthless son, but now that you've given a platform for my main rival to show the world how forward they are and backward I am...I guess I better start behaving!")

Summary: My snarkiness aside, FIFA loves feeling needed and relishes the opportunity to use sport for good. That humanitarian slant, as well as a distinctive culture, stable environment, and excellent footballing history makes Korea a serious contender for the 2022 cup.

Chances: It all depends on the tricky balance of "Pasty European Guilt" v.s. "Growing the Game". If Korea holds up enough pictures of adorable kids holding soccer balls and pouting they have an excellent chance.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


We continue our look at the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups with Belgium and Holland's joint bid for 2018.

Tagline: Together for Great Goals
What the Tagline Should Be: HOPEFULLY We'll Still Be Together for Great Goals
You Tube Plea:

Pros: Beligum and Holland are offering the sensible, northern European approach to hosting futbol's premier event. And what they might lack in beaches and recognizable landmarks they more than make up for in steady, consistent effeciency (Yo HOTTIE!! show us your balanced budgets!!!). Both would be first time hosts and could offer a great chance to pay homage to one of the great international sides of the last 50 years (the perennial bridesmaids in orange). Also, to judge from their YouTube video, they may just be the first nation to broadcast the World Cup in a completely grunge indie ouevre, just think of the massive hipster market waiting to be tapped!!

Cons: That whole sensible approach thing can go right out the window if Belgium's Flemish north breaks away from the Wallonian minority in the south. (I know that "Wallonia" might sound made up, but believe me it, and the hostility towards it are very real). FIFA has said that they aren't real fond of joint-hosting bids, so going from two countries to three might be awkward. Neither country has an 80,000 seat arena for the biggest matches (stupid fiscal logic!). Also if they continue their aesthetic evolution from grunge indie to post-modernism we might just end up with 45 minutes of a match and 45 minutes of a cow's unblinking eye...snooty art critics are not a great futbol market.

Summary: Belgium/Holland probably has a solid chance to be a compromise site. Continental, centrally located, consistently stable, they'll appeal to several EU hugging politicos, but they just don't elicit the same excitement as other nations. (South Africa! Brazil! and now...Belgium?!?) and while the Netherlands has mobilized great players from their history to get out the vote around the world Belgium seems to mostly be sitting back and saying: "uhh...we can help too!"

Chances: Pretty good if England and Russia screw up their bids. And since screwing things up is a grand tradition for both the FA and Russia, I'll go ahead and say: "pretty good".

Monday, November 08, 2010

Our New Look, Our New Mission, and the 1st Installment of Our New Series

Hey, look, this blog now looks like someone pays attention to it, instead of wallowing in the perpetual limbo of circa 2003 hipness!

Hey, look, someone's writing on this blog again after several months of absentee ownership (c'mon, man! Baseball was going on...I might love futbol, but I'm American...I've got to prioritize.) But now that distractions are (mostly) gone, we can focus in on the fun stuff like providing soccer commentary for the smart, and the smartasses of the world.

Hey, listen, I'm sure that professional league futbol is great fun, but it's not a passion here in the States. You know what is? The World Cup. So you know what we should do? Talk about the world cup some more!!! Sure the next installment is four years away. Sure qualifiers won't even start until next summer. Sure there's no way to intelligently predict anything based on anything, but since when has lack of intelligence stopped someone from posting things on the internet? (Case in point.)

So here's what's going to happen now, I'm going to spend the next 24 days in a mad dash trying to explain (in my most sassy of voices) what the chances are for each of the bidders involved in trying to get the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Both hosts will be announced at the beginning of December which means I should be posting every three days.

With that, let's get cracking! (Just FYI I'm going to go in reverse World Ranking Order...just because I felt like it!)
Tagline: Expect Amazing
Real line: Expect Disappointment
YouTube Plea:

Pros: Qatar is the perfect bidder for FIFA's global domination strategy. Since 1994 they have assiduously tried to incorporate unlikely nations as hosts for the contest (the US, Japan/Korea, South Africa) the only two untapped markets are the Middle-East and the Arctic Circle. Since those damned lazy scientists at Ice Station Zebra were late in their paper work, Qatar has the leg up in the "new market" category. It also hits FIFA g-spots by providing allusions to luxurious accommodations, state of the art facilities, oodles of corporate sponsorship and children in need of athletic inspiration. (C'mon FIFA think of the kids!)

Cons: Qatar wants to hold the world's premier sporting event in a country that's a little bit smaller than South Dakota(boohiss!)'s Black Hills. It wants to have a host of elite athletes play a demanding physical game in average 106 degree temperatures (just what we need: more sweaty Slovenians). It wants to establish itself as a global soccer mecca despite a current FIFA ranking of #109...two spots below giant of the game: Barbados. The greatest player in their history is Mansoor Muftah, if you knew that before that video (and aren't Qatari), I will mail you some cookies. If you'd like to learn more about Mansoor Muftah, you might want something other than Wikipedia where the globe's geeks only came up with 4 sentences for him. Oh, and there were rumors about Qatar trying to swap votes with Spain and winning could raise some furor.

Summary: Qatar is easily the biggest long shot in the race to host the World Cup, and while part of me thinks it might be cool to see the game played on that stage, I think their best shot would come as part of a Middle Eastern group (maybe with Bahrain and the UAE?).

Chances: About as good as an ice cube on a Doha sidewalk.

Friday, July 09, 2010


One of the down sides to having a World Cup blog is that such blogs don't actually--ya know, earn money.

As such the authors of this blog have prioritized work above play--and while we've all watched a bunch of games we haven't written.

To be fair: Matt has a new child on the way and it's best if you get ready for that is actually getting ready for it.

Also, Simon was in a bit of a nasty car accident and begun a new job after graduating from college, so....that was important too.

And I, Ben, was in Ghana for the month doing his thesis research. And while the complete obsession of Ghanaians with football was amazing, Ghanaian internet didn't care what I wanted to say and repeatedly reminded me of this fact by turning into a big white mass of nothing.

So...this is a world cup center that came up, regrettably empty.

But, as a certifiable nerd, sports fan and voicer of irrelevant opinions--I hereby vow that we will be back.

Hopefully we shall return sooner rather than later (perhaps the Champion's League...perhaps the Premiership or perhaps its time to try the MLS again...does Carlos Valderamma still play?) but if nothing else we'll write on Sunday and we'll write again in 2012--when the World Cup quest for qualification begins anew on those little ol' islands in the South Pacific.

Until Sunday--
The Scruffy Rube

Thursday, June 03, 2010

On my way

Tomorrow I'll be spending hour after merry hour on a series of planes heading for Accra, Ghana and a futbol hot bed. Though I'm going for school work rather than sporting pleasure, I'm sure that I'll find the time to watch a few matches with some new friends and in so doing come up with stories that I'll be telling for years to come.

Hopefully, Matt and Simon will be able to make greater use of their stable internet connections, but just in case our sources of actual pay checks distract us from the fun of World Cup Soccer, please make use of this handy dandy website and all the gadgets and gizmos that come with it

Happy watching
The Rube

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meet the Teams: 4-for-1 BLOWOUT!!

In honor--or plagiary--of March Madness, we return to our Meet the Team Series with a look at 4 European teams, and how they bear a striking similarity to the four principle teams in the Men's College Baskteball tournament: BEHOLD THE GLORY OF ANOTHER CHART!!





March Madness Archetype

Prestige Program

Choke Artist

Mid-Major cinderella Story

Speed Bump

If you cheer for them you may also like cheering for:

Duke Blue Devils

Texas Longhorns

Butler Bulldogs

Alabama State Hornets


The “Azzurri”

Seleccao del Quinas (The Five Shields)

None (Taken away by EU in exchange for loan)

Schwizer Nati

Star Player

Fabio Cannavaro

Cristiano Ronaldo

Theofanis Gekas

Alexander Frei

Random player with a name that’s fun to say

Gianluigi Buffon (Sounds like “Buffoon”)

Da Silva Muniz Liedson (Three last names, no firsts)

Socratis Papaststhopolus

Blaise N’Kufo

Tearjerking story to be told in sepia tones

Triumphant story of 23 men who somehow are less attractive to women than Silvio Burlusconi

Triumphant story of a group of men who learn not to fall over at the first bit of contact

Triumphant story of a plucky group of men who help Greece forget about their crippling financial woes

Triumphant story of a group of chocolatiers who play a little sport on the side.

Best Possible Result

Yet another title....yawn

This year

is OUR


Soul stirring semi-final spot

“A pretty girl saw me and smiled!!!!”

Worst possible result

Inexplicable defeat...tar & feather at home

Another disappointment...yawn

Smug satisfaction for “experts”

Get lost on the way to the field

Most likely highlight reel appearance

Holding a big shiny trophy--like....this one!

Looking on in disbelief

Silly celebration

Running feebly after a star player

Likelihood that the coach cries after a championship




-6 (Victory may cause death, make crying impossible)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Meet the Teams: New Zealand

As Matt takes us group by group through the World Cup teams, I thought I'd jump about in my usual scattershot way and take a peek at one of the cups tiniest minnows: New Zealand.

The All-Whites (as opposed to the All-Blacks, the national Rugby team) are not a discriminatory club, but they aren't exactly expected to do much of anything at the World Cup. In 12 games over four international tournaments (World Cup/Confederations Cups) they've scored four goals and won zero times. With Captain and Defender Ryan Nelsen (of the Blackburn Rovers) and a pair of young Premiership forwards, their best may be able to keep up--for about 15 minutes of their first match...then it's nothing but Italy, Paraguay and a long sad silence.

But rather than focus on the sadness, we Montanan Hooligans want to offer a solution. Instead of their standard team of tired, localized vets, and raw new comers, let's make use of what New Zealand has, through the least amount of wikipedia research possible

Every team should have a cunning and ruthless manager:
A dynamite attacking striker:
A set of creative and surprising midfielders
C couple intimidating defenders:
And an agile, frightening keeper
And we've got a team that could threaten box office records...and probably fare just as well as the actual New Zealand team. So, let's not worry about any of the factual validity of this post and just agree that New Zealand is a land of contrasts.

For MacKenzie Low Budget Sports, I'm Ben MacKenzie

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Meet the Teams: Nigeria

Here we are at the World Cup Cocktail party, hosted this year at the Tacoma Radisson of cyberspace: Google Blogger. You, my friend, are interested in meeting and greeting the teams vying for the World Cup in South Africa this summer. Having already accepted my sage crudite' advice (stay away from the raw broccoli, you will avoid embarrasing burp smells later), now please let me offer you a brief introduction to the most interesting teams in the room. I'll share with you the following elements: Pre-emptory Tomfoolery (a few jokes to get us started), Political History, Culinary Assets, a Sporting Preview (don't expect much, that isn't what this is about), and finally Recent Cultural Contributions. This way you'll have something interesting to talk about until the booze hits.

Now, back to the lecture at hand . . .

From Group B: NIGERIA

Pre-emptory Tomfoolery
This email is already making its way around the intertubes:

From the Desk of Nigerian Prince Johnothan Okoye, Your Assistance is Needed!!

Dear Sir,

I am Prince Johnothan Okoye of the Taraba People of Nigeria. My father, King Okoye, was deposed in 2006, and died tragically last year in a lawn mower accident. I am his sole heir. My father amassed a fortune while he was king and, in order to avoid the corrupt banking practices of our country, deposited it in several Romulan bank accounts. My family fortune, which stands currently at the sum of US $27M. (Twenty-seven Million Dollars) is currently being held at two separate banks in Romulus. I require your assistance in the retrieval of this sum. I need merely $5,234 US Dollars to pay various Romulan transaction fees. 40% of my fortune will go to you once it is retrieved ($8.1M), in thanks for your assistance to me. Further, As you know, the Nigerian Football team will be competing in this Year’s World Cup tournament. I am the spiritual and cultural advisor to this team, but am unable to travel with the team to this years tournament due to lack of funds. With your help not only will you and I enjoy a substantial monetary windfall, but I will be able to aid the team and the glory of a Nigerian World Cup victory will be assured. You will have your name inscribed upon the trophy in permanent marker for all to see and know of your goodness.

A friend who is a Staff of World Trading Center (WTC) here in Lagos made your contact available, knowing you to be a very savvy investor, with many brilliant acquisitions to your name. Please notify me of your acceptance to carry out this transaction through the above E-mail address or fax number. You should also note that the transaction would only take (14) fourteen working days.

You can also reply me to my private email

Warmest Regards,

Prince Jonothan.

American Suckers with ESPN (Also known as "the guys who still think Berman is funny" and "Wyoming") are already cheering for a Nigerian victory in South Africa. "Score that goal! Prince Jonothan is gonna make me rich! Ooops! Time to take my penis enlargement pills!"

Political History
Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa (conservative estimates are 150 million) and is also one of the most ethnically diverse. It gained its independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1960. The extremely oil-rich Nigerian delta is Nigeria's principal natural resource, and for years the state controlled the oil industry skimming profits and hindering growth while the military ran the government. In the 1990s Nigeria transitioned into a representative Federal Democracy closely resembling that of the United States, with a bicameral legislature and a president elected to four year terms. Recently, Nigeria has modernized its economy, privatizing four major refineries and emerging as one of Africa's major economies. Of course, the Christmas-day Undiewear-Bomber was also from Nigeria. So . . . lets talk about food.

Culinary Assets
Since Nigeria doesn't have a lot of livestock, Nigerian cuisine typically focuses heavily on staple vegetables and starches: yams, cassava, okra, beans, lentils and rice. The coastal areas also specialize in seafood stews. One staple common throughout the country is the snack-food Chinchin, deliciously sweetened fried bits of dough:

A Sporting Preview
Group B fixtures: Argentina (6/12), Greece (6/17), South Korea (6/22)
Nickname: The Super Eagles (Yes, best team nickname so far).
The Super Eagles burst onto the world's stage and into the imaginations of two young boys in Montana when they dismantled a Bulgarian side led by the legendary Hristo Stoichkov 3-0 in the group stage of the 1994 world cup. Nigeria has boasted exceptional talent for years, winning the 1985, 1993 and 2007 U-17 World Cups, but have been unable to put it all together at the main-stage, emerging from group stage play in 1994 and 1998 only to lose their first games in the knock-out stages. The Super Eagles could not escape the group of Death in 2002 (Sweden, England, Argentina, YIKES!), and did not qualify for Germany 2006. Their qualifying campaign for South Africa was a microcosm of the team: an unfocused and lackadaisical start, followed by nail-biting tension as they managed to stay in the game, capped by a flourish of talent that made you wonder what they'd look like if they played that way all the time. The Super Eagles earned a spot in the semi-final of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations against Ghana (That's this Thursday at 1/28) by defeating Zambia on penalty kicks. Nigeria made all 5 kicks, and keeper Victor Enyeama shot and scored the final PK and then stopped Zambia's final shooter to secure the win. Strikers Obefemi Michaels (Wolfsburg), Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton - possessor of the best nickname in the tournament: "The Yak"), Center Mid Mikel John Obi (Chelsea, also known as John Obi Mikel, maybe also known as Obi Wan Kanobi), and Center Back Joseph Yobo (Everton-captain) are the stars. Ancient striker Kanu will also make the trip.

Recent Cultural Contributions
Nigeria has the third highest revenue producing film industry in the world behind Hollywood and Bollywood. "Nollywood" releases an estimated 25,000 new films per year, second only to the industry in India. Nollywood films are typically produced and distributed direct to DVD and have a distinctly DIY flavor. The movies are created on location, without sets, using digital video cameras and off the shelf film editing software. The subject matter ranges from pulp fiction to soap-opera style melodrama. Also, the trailers are hilarious, for example:

There is also a significant evangelical Christian portion of the industry, which has produced some unintentionally uh . . . results:

Hang on to your eyes, and go Super Eagles!

Next up from Group C: Slovenia