Biting, balls and Ken dolls: A&E’s guide to the World Cup mania

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Biting, balls and Ken dolls: A&E’s guide to the World Cup mania

By Grace Kelly / Staff Writer

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As the World Cup rolls on, there is still the familiar grumble from many Americans that soccer is nothing but 90 minutes of running around. So what draws some people to obsessively watch every game and overload Twitter with play-by-play commentaries? Why is soccer arguably the most popular sport in the world? In other words, as many of my friends have gruffly asked, “Why should I watch the World Cup?” 

Here are several reasons to tune into the month of soccer mania. From the silly to the serious, these reasons may convert — or at least intrigue — even the stodgiest of anti-soccer folks. 

Reason 1: 

Weird Hair (Don’t Care)

In a trivial sense, hair can make a World Cup even more entertaining than it normally would be. The array of hilarious hair decisions rubs off the sometimes star-dusted sheen that players can emit. 

The king of mixing it up both on the pitch and on his head is Neymar. The Brazilian wunderkind goes from an unidentifiable mullet-mohawk to a frosted-tipped comb-over between games, leaving fans wondering what the next flick of his comb will lead to. Fellow Brazilian David Luiz also knows his hair, with long, curling locks that add additional support to his killer headers

This year, France’s Olivier Giroud took an interesting approach with his pom-pom puff and cleanly shaven sides. Like a dollop of whipped cream, his flowing coif was extraordinarily picturesque — until he began to score headers against Switzerland. The coif slowly deflated and the 10 ounces of hair gel were apparently no match for a well-placed soccer ball. 

Last but certainly not least is the ever-volatile Mario Balotelli. The Italian striker is known for his killer goals, along with the occasional bleached mohawk.

Reason 2:


As World Cups have come and gone, there have been evident style changes, from the big, billowy jerseys paired with the shorts of the early ‘90s that were just a tad too short, to the more recent painted-on look, exemplified by Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani

Croatia wins for the most dizzying uniform choice. Its red and white checkers mesmerize opponents enough for their key striker, Mario Mandzukic, to work his magic. Then there is the classy, cool collared jersey of the Greeks that adds a touch of elegance to an otherwise very hairy and gritty team. 

Reason 3:

The Players

The World Cup would not be half as interesting if it were played by clones, as the popular animated Nike commercial suggests. Nike is correct that the personality of the players is a huge part of the game’s allure — and there is a variety of personalities.

For those who love to hate, there is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who has the body of a Ken doll and an ego that remains steadily inflated by his barrage of goals. Contrast playboy Ronaldo with England’s Daniel Sturridge, whose visit to a Liverpool elementary school will leave you all warm and fuzzy and may even tempt you to try his goal dance yourself. 

Then there are the hotheads, who constantly provide drama and intrigue: Italy’s Balotelli, France’s Paul Pogba and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez — infamous for his handball against Ghana in 2010 and for biting players on numerous occasions, including Giorgio Chiellini in yesterday’s match against Italy.    

For those watching the game for eye candy, look no further than Italy’s Claudio Marchisio in a Dolce & Gabbana suit or Chile’s Alexis Sanchez after a match — the post-match shirt swap tradition is a beautiful thing. 

Reason 4:

Goals — The Ultimate Reason

For the more traditional sports fan who wants constant action, the 2014 World Cup has proven to be a smorgasbord of tantalizing flick-ons, powerful punts and swiftly sinking headers. 

Just look at the brilliant strike by the United States’ Jermaine Jones against Portugal, Holland’s rout of 2010 champions Spain and the flying header of Holland’s Robin van Persie, which inspires copycats left and right. This World Cup has had some brilliant play, with few fouls, few slow games and a dazzling display of sure-footed wizardry. 

Soccer fan or not, this World Cup has been providing spills (sometimes intentional), thrills (from own-goals to last-second scores) and a plethora of reasons for everyone to put on that old jersey in their closet and yell at their TV screens in passionate aplomb. 

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