13 July 2018

The Past of Football: The World Cup, 1506-2022

Following on from his chapters on Alfbert, Lord Ramsey’s England, statistics, and the NASAL, General Sir Frank Lazarus bravely continues his chronicling of the history of the Beautiful Sport by tackling the Large One: the World Cup.


A spectator slips a ball into the ring during a bout of the traditional Florentine post-pub fighting game calcio stramascio (Italian for "proper twenty-one-man brawl"). No one notices, but football is invented once more. A group of holidaying Frenchmen challenge the locals to a game. The World Cup is born. Things gets heated, and an irate Frenchman charges an Italian much in the manner of a rhinoceros, which had only recently been invented.


The soccering world plead with their British masters to revive the old World Cup idea. The British say no, but gallantly allow the foreigners to stage a competition by themselves, if they were even capable. The winner of this event would face the champion of the Home Internationals, then the supreme tournament, in a showdown for global supremacy. In the final, Uruguay and Argentina can't decide whose football to use, so they use both. The ref can't keep score, and in the confusion declares Uruguay winners. Reminded of their promise of a super global playoff, the British go oh, we don't know what you're talking about, we're busy that decade, we were joking anyway, shut up, go away, there's a Scottish League-Irish League game on.


With the World Cup hosting rights awarded to Italy, Argentina decide to enter the tournament disguised as Italians, in the hope of profiting from favourable refereeing decisions this time. This fails to work, as the officiating is scrupulously fair and impartial at all times. Despite this, Italy/Argentina win the competition.

To save time, the 1938 World Cup is held simultaneously. Italy/Argentina also win this.


With everyone else too busy killing the flip out of each other, my now late then punctual fifth cousin Bobberidge Lazarus seizes the opportunity to stage the 1942 World Cup in his self-declared microstate Lazarusvania (pictured below). All the other nations of the world being too chicken to turn up, Lazarusvania are declared champions and remain the only unbeaten team in World Cup history except Scotland. The FIFA still won't recognise this because ooh that bloody Sepp Blatter.


The whole world clean forgets about the World Cup! They promise they won't do it again.


200,000,000 people cram into the brand new Maracanã to watch the final game between Brazil and Uruguay. The Uruguayans are victorious, but Jules Rimet has left the Him Trophy under the bed from the war. To cover up his mistake, he points out that since the competition format did not technically include a final, the World Cup actually has no winner. Everyone shrugs their shoulders, goes home and never speaks of the match again.


The FIFA decree that all games will be first to 100 or until it gets dark. The Germans stun the world by beating Hungary in the final. They celebrate by being very friendly to strangers, drinking lots of water, and dancing all night to acid oompah.


Brazil power to glory behind young phenomenon Edson, who celebrates by stealing a name from the tournament's Swedish hosts. He will henceforth be known to all as Pelle. In his victory speech, Pelle declares: "I am much better than Maradona."


Chile and Italy get into a massive fight, but a dog runs on and pees on everyone, and people rejoice in the sheer bloody beauty of the moment. Pelle misses the latter stages of Brazil's triumphant run due to injury, but nonetheless collects his medal in full kit.


England's triumph and subsequent fall from grace have already been extensively covered in this series. Suffice it to add that further research has revealed that a large shipment of grain was dispatched from Felixstowe to Leningrad the day after the final. I'm just leaving that piece of information there.


whoooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhh duuuuuuuude have you seen this it's all like colours and stuff it's so bright and shiny and bluuuuurrrrrry and like green and yellow man look at that yellow it’s the yellowy yellow lellow lellyowest yellow I’ve ever seen where is this place it's sunny like aaaaaaaaall the time dude is it just me or is this game going reeeeeeal sloooooow like they're barely even moving wait did Italy just win their group 1-0 is that weird looking German dude okay he can't stop scoring goals for some reason look at the yellow and the white it's like there's a party in my retinas and everyone's invited OH MY GOD HE'S SHOOTING FROM THE HALFWAY LINE AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAAAAA wait wait what they were two up weren't they weren't they answer me man what the fuck dude I want a Peru shirt is that guy playing in a sling like an actual fucking sling HOLY SHIT HE JUST WENT ROUND THE KEEPER WITHOUT TOUCHING THE BALL FUCK FUCK I CAN'T TAKE THIS THIS IS GETTING TOOOOOOO MUCH they keep passing passing passing what are they doing passing passing passing I feel sick passing passing passing he's just passed it to nobodFUCK MAN IT'S THE FULL-BACK I'm going to die


A World Cup of firsts: Scotland truly become Scotland for the first time; future 40-year-old Dino Zoff concedes a goal for the first time in his life; and the Dutch qualify for their first World Cup (apart from that other time when they were called the Dutch East Indies).

The Dutch had created an entirely new soccering philosophy called Sexy Football, which was a development of the Brazilian style, O Sexy Football, named after Irish missionary priest Fr. Peter O'Sexyfootball (an t-Athair Peadar Ó Soichsighphiotbál). It was invented by Czechoslovakia's 1962 goalkeeper Johan Cruij/yff, who would for inspiration stare for hours at paintings by the old Dutch goalkeeping masters: Vermeer, Mondragon, van der Saenredam, &c. Sexy Football involved players running around all over the place and kicking the crippins out of the other team.

In the final, the Dutch do it so astoundingly magnificently that after 22 minutes the Germans concede defeat. The Germans' captain, Franz 'The Director' Peckinpah, personally hands over the new cup, bought in a trophy emporium in Munich because Brazil had left the old one under the bed from the Mardi Gras. But Cruy/ijff isn't satisfied and holds out his hand again, whereupon Peckinpah gives him the European Nations Trophy cup the Germans had somehow accidentally won two years earlier.

Crui/jyff moves to Spain where he assassinates Franco and retires to stud, siring a master race of footballers with some very short women.


In the last minute of the final, a goalbound shot by the Dutch's Derek Manninger is stopped short of the line when an Argentinian general runs onto the pitch and shoots the ball. The ref waves play on, and Argentina win in extra time. Buoyed by this boost to national confidence, Argentina immediately invade Derrylondonderry but are trampled by a herd of plucky British sheep.


The first ever official World Cup anthem is recorded by The Fall. It is a searing commentary on recent FIFA history: "Put the blame into FIFA Haus, go round there and kick out Rous ... Rous rumbled, Rous rumbled ... I'm João Totale, the yet unborn son ... PELLE'S COBWEB EYES!!!!!". Called "The Goal of Love", its b-side is a reworking of "Bingo Master", telling the story of Sepp Blatter's impeccable handling of the draw for the '82 finals. The single is a global smash in several German cities.


Uruguay's José Batista sets a new World Cup record by getting sent off against Scotland before the draw has even been made. Sócrates refines his penalty technique to the point where he doesn't even have to score anymore. Bryan Robson's sling and Gary Lineker's cast make arm injuries a hip new trend for English kids bored of stealing VW badges. Peter Shilton is outjumped by a tiny man and is quite rightly still unhappy about it to this day. Said tiny man, Diego Maradona, waltzes his way through the knockout rounds, but his effectiveness in the final is blunted as he is marked out of the game by Pelle.


The 1990 edition is filled with cynical, negative football, if football is indeed the word. Tactics are horribly defensive. Goals are almost impossibly hard to come by. Games are a stop-start travesty of fouls, dives and whines. Claudio Caniggia is assaulted by three Cameroon players in quick succession in the opening game. Maradona spends his entire tournament being hacked down or diving to avoid being hacked down. A record number of red cards are handed out. Frank Rijkaard twice spits at Rudi Völler, yet Völler is sent off. Gary Lineker dives to win a penalty that helps to keep Cameroon out of the semi-finals. Argentina drug water bottles they then allow Brazilian players to drink from. Ireland 'arrange' the closing stages of their match against the Dutch to secure qualification from the group stages, and make the quarter-finals despite winning no games and scoring two goals. Argentina finish as runners-up after winning just two games. The Germans win the tournament scoring three goals in their last three games: two penalties and a heavily deflected free kick. Not one but two players are sent off in a terrible final. This remains the greatest World Cup of all time.


The United States yet again ruin soccer by calling it soccer and going to the matches in huge numbers. After Argentina's game against Nigeria, Diego Maradona is led away for a drugs test by an official who looks very familiar although no one can quite put their finger on it. The Germans merge with the East Germans to form superteam The Germans. This somehow makes them worse. Stefan 'Effin'' Effenberg is sent home by manager Berti Vogts because you would, wouldn't you. Many games are played in temperatures that are blatantly discriminatory against teams from northern Europe. Sweden finish third.


Adidas claim that their official World Cup football, the Obélix, is the roundest ever, thus solving a great problem that has long bedevilled the game. Dennis Bergkamp does not stamp on Siniša Mihajlović. Zinedine Zidane turns up fashionably late and steals the plaudits as France win. Fontaine, and just Fontaine, presents the Raymond Kopa to Didier Deschamps. Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc and Bixente Lizarazu are dismantled, shipped to China and reassembled brick-by-brick to dam the Yangtze.


The World Cup is awarded to the sci-fi technotopia of Japan/South Korea. To celebrate, the organisers decree that it will be the first tournament ever to be staged in the future. Unfortunately, the confusion over dates leads to many of the favourites not turning up. The official ball of the World Cup is made of pure neon, making it the most visible football ever. Keepers still complain about it.


Swarthy Latin Cristiano Ronaldo grabs Wayne Rooney's foot and stamps his own gonads with it, thus getting the greatest player in the world sent off. Ronaldo finds his camera and winks, taunting the English by slyly referencing the derivation of the word 'connive' from the Latin for 'wink'. The next day he reveals his nefarious plan in a tell-all memoir called How I Got The Greatest Player In The World Sent Off.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the World Cup, a special re-enactment of the first ever World Cup game is held. Everyone goes home happy with no lingering bitterness or recrimination.


I don't know?


The world is plunged into mourning as Neymar is shot dead by top bad Colombian Pablo Escobar. The World Cup is cancelled in what many suspect to be an elaborate Brazilian conspiracy to deny Lionel Messi the chance to win the World Cup on his own. As part of Neymar's funeral, a game is held between Brazil and the Germans. Brazil honour Neymar's memory by being completely shit at football without him.


Croatia win the final on penalties after a 1-1 draw with France.


The FIFA controversially decide that the World Cup will be held in catarrh. The tournament is moved to the winter to allow more catarrh to be produced.


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