Soccer, football, that game where opposing sides hit a ball into a net: it doesn’t matter what you call it — World Cup Fever has hit. Keeping score is simple.
It’s enough to make adults cry in joy or anger, sport one of those big foamy hands, explore the streets of Brazil via Google, shout at the TV, and collect trading cards and stickers until they’ve finally found that missing one of Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
For many, the history of the World Cup is littered with bitter disappointments, but if you want to indulge in over 80 years of the World Cup, there’s never been a better time.
The obvious first step on your journey into the past.
It’s not a master of design, but there’s a shed load of information here for both the hardcore and the occasional-but-curious fans, taking you through every Cup since the tournament debuted in 1930 in Uruguay. The raw statistics are especially interesting; not just for the sports fanatic but also anyone intrigued by societies past.
Thanks to their basic but pleasing graphs, it’s simple to see how total attendance has swelled over the years — as has the number of own goals!
You could even take part in their poll on who will win this year’s World Cup, and, if you’re feeling churlish, vote for England. Yes, we’ll even accept the sympathy vote.
Of course, history isn’t made with statistics; it’s about people.
More specifically, the World Cup is about its players and its fans. Time Magazine‘s wonderful illustrated history takes you on a beautiful trip through the highs and lows: goal victories, tears of joy, holding the trophy aloft; the Nazi salute, rivalries and fouls, even suicides.
It really showcases what a simple sport, played by countless generations, means to so many.
It’s strange how one image can immediately take you back decades. Logos, too, have that power.
Some are plain; some are boring; others are just plain boring. But then there are some surprisingly memorable ones. I’m really not sure why I remember the France 1998 one so well. It’s nice to compare a poster from 1950 (the last time Brazil hosted the ‘Futebol’ games) – a benchmark for clever olde-worlde style – with today’s glaring, we-really-love-photoshop efforts.
And the great thing about this site is, once you’ve scrutinised World Cup logos, you can explore ones from various sports and teams.
As well as analyses of this year’s games, including “A Glimpse of the Favourites” (looking at teams like Brazil, The Netherlands and Spain) and match schedule, Planet World Cup has a nice list of mascots. As a Brit, I’m proud to say the tradition started in 1966 – which was a pretty good year for us, y’know – with “World Cup Willie” (no sniggering at the back), appropriately a shaggy-looking lion playing football.
Naturally without bias, I have to say that the original remains the best, but the mascots are an… interesting bunch. West Germany (1974) and Argentina (1978) certainly can’t be commended on their originality. Mexico’s “Pique” is obviously the hottie of the lot. Who knows what Korea and Japan were thinking in 2002?
And when it comes to Italy in 1990… Well, as Planet World Cup notes, “Not easy to see what this is. It must be some kind of sculpture.” They might as well have put, “We don’t know either.”
In addition, the site also boasts a nice little overview of the World Cup’s history by guest columnist, Pierre Boisrond.
Speaking of an odd bunch, here’s a playlist of World Cup anthems. Rarely would you see Shakira alongside Ricky Martin.
You can’t escape the dross vying for this year’s top anthem, but interspersed with them are some technicolour ‘treats’ of the past, including the melodic “The Time of Our Lives” by Il Devo, Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti, and 1986’s quirky “Aztec Gold.”
Or like me, you might just want to settle for this:
All together now. “Football crazy; chocolate mad…”
The World Cup is every four years and is the only way of seeing countries battle it out without the declaration of war.
And it’s so easy to keep up with. Just check out these awesome Android apps!
Now, to close in style… some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over. It is now.