The European Championships of Evil!
A couple of years ago, North Korea won our inaugural World Cup of Evil, which rewarded teams for historical- and soccer-related evil. Here, “evil” is a broad term encompassing everything from genocide to barely remarkable mischief, so before you tell us we’re going to hell for treating the Holocaust and Mario Balotelli as one and the same thing, just know that we’re already going to hell.
So, to make yourself feel better the morning after England's exit from the tournament, get out your Euro 2012 wallchart, cover it with a drawing of Hitler eating the Andrex puppy and follow the group stage action below. The quarters, semis, and final will follow later this week.
Historical evil: Unbearably light Czech pseud Milan Kundera needs to apologize for encouraging a certain brand of “sensitive young man” (ie prick) to be “interesting” (ie sleazy, misinformed) at parties, but the Czech Republic is a very young country and it would be irresponsible to blame it for everything Czechoslovakia did wrong. The Slovaks are fucking evil, after all.
Soccer evil: Weakened considerably by the retirement of Jan Koller, who presumably now spends his time getting chased from Czech villages by screaming, pitchfork-wielding locals.
Most evil player: Hmm, pretty slim pickings. A tie between Tomas Rosicky (center parting) and Petr Cech (stole Magneto’s helmet).
Historical evil: When Zeus was turning into animals in order to ravish virgins, it was all about having a lusty, if slightly wicked, good time. Now, male fascists slap women on TV and there are 412 riots a day. Someone calling for the honor-killing of Angela Merkel is surely not far away.
Soccer evil: In the Guardian-lauded world of Taste the Difference, this-isn’t-just-soccer-this-is-Barcelona-soccer soccer, Greece, and their 2004 Euro-winning team, have long been a byword for mind-crushingly dull, defensive snoozeball. Also, their domestic league is fixed by a mysterious criminal ring called “The Hut,” whose members are probably a lot more evil than a bunch of teenagers eating stuffed crust and stealing from the Ice Cream Factory.
Most evil player: Sotiris Ninis—his boyish charm makes me want to do evil things!
Historical evil: The Poles have spent large swathes of history playing whipping boy to those two old Lords of European Evil, Germany and Russia, though their reputation as loveable, babbling, troll doll-faced drunks has taken a hit after all the recent stories about them being forest-dwelling soccer fascists.
Soccer evil: Poland’s first black player, Emmanuel Olisadebe, used to have bananas thrown at him by his own fans. But then they warmed up to him and unfurled signs saying “Olisadebe: 100 Percent Polish.” Then he advertized soft drinks. Recently, he told Sol Campbell off for saying that black fans would come home from the Championships “in a coffin.” Yeah, chill out Sol, just because many people in Poland are horrible racists, and many other people in Poland can't bring themselves to condemn racist behavior doesn't mean the country's not safe for people who aren't white and Polish.
Most evil player: Robert Lewandowski—being Poland’s best striker can go to your head.
Historical evil: Do the phrases “Soviet death camp,” “Stalin is not pleased,” and “massive, unexplained, long-term imprisonment” mean anything to you?
Soccer evil: Soviet-era soccer is like the mind of Sauron, you don’t want to examine it.
Most evil player: Andrei Arshavin—some kind of evil genius.
Group Qualifiers: Russia (1st), Greece (2nd)
Historical evil: Like a metal band that got old and went introspective, Denmark has two distinct phases of evil—a millennia of rape, pillaging, and flagon-swinging debauchery as The Vikings and then bike lanes and intense films as The Danes.
Soccer evil: Shouting at people, shooting wildly, it’s all a nice, gentle, Baddiel and Skinner lol, really.
Most evil player: Daniel Agger, who has a whole VIKING GRAVEYARD tattooed on his back (helpfully annotated for you here, by The Sun)
Historical evil: There’s little need to go into detail. It has something to do with lebensraum and blitzkriegs.
Soccer evil: German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher almost decapitating French defender Patrick Battiston—shown here, complete with emotive, Gladiator-style orchestral music and topped off with an aggrieved French voiceover—is pretty high-up on the soccer evil scale. In his autobiography, Schumacher claimed he was just going for the ball and then deflected the attention away from his near-manslaughter by accusing all his teammates of massive substance abuse.
Most evil player: Bastian Schweinsteiger—because he looks like the kind of relentless, steely-eyed bad guy Rutger Hauer would play. Alright Bastian, we get it: you’ve seen “things people wouldn’t believe.” Now shut up about the Tannhauser Gate.
Historical evil: Portugal referred to their colony Angola as a “province” in an attempt to stop it being de-colonized. What do you mean it’s a country? It’s just north of Porto. It’s where Figo lives...
Soccer evil: It's not exactly the Southern African genocide they went in for IRL, but just look at that greasy little rat Cristiano Ronaldo getting England’s brave and honest Wayne Rooney sent off.
Most evil player: A lot of competition in the ranks, but Bruno Alves isn't the kind of man you'd leave your kids with.
Historical evil: Back in the days of the Dutch empire, when New York was New Amsterdam and the world yearned for a slice of Edam at every meal, Dutch pirates would raid coastlines all over the planet while at the same time selling out their government for a few gold coins and a cup of milk.
Soccer evil: The Dutch made watching the 2010 World Cup Final feel like watching Mel Gibson’s personal cut of Apocalypto. Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong have forged careers in destroying other people's and Arjen Robben is an infuriating one-trick pony whose trick is generally shit.
Most evil player: Robin van Persie, whose brush with the law (not guilty on the charge of rape, folks) is celebrated in the chant, “Van Persie, when the girl says no, molest her," sung to the tune of “Rewind” by the Artful Dodger. Apparently some people think this is funny, but in reality no one comes out of it looking good.
Qualifiers: Germany (1st), Netherlands (2nd)
Historical evil: If you can tell me who is to blame for evil in the Balkans then congratulations, friend, my unread collection of Ivo Andric novels is on its way to you.
Soccer evil: The usual cocktail of racism, match-fixing, and revolutionary crowds led by Croat midfield maestro and Dostoyevsky aficionado Zvonomir Boban.
Most evil player: The manager, Slaven Bilic, who looks like a jewel thief.
Historical evil: How could those loveable, starving charm-merchants be guilty of anything except having a little drink, a grand old time, and molesting children for centuries using the Church as a cover?
Soccer evil: Roy Keane, a man who'd stomp on your throat for looking at his dog funny.
Most evil player: Robbie Keane, whose need to be loved is sociopathic.
Historical evil: Fascism, politicians fucking underage game show presenters, and heartfelt Italian-language drivetime rock. Also, an enduring obsession with conquering Ethiopia, preferably by making as many people shit themselves to death through forced castor oil consumption as possible.
Soccer evil: The result of every Italian league game is brought about through a baffling array of competing match-fixing interests. Style wise, Italy has always been about the dirty tricks.
Most evil player: Super Mario, the own-house-burning, lady’s-prison-visiting King of the Mad.
Historical evil: The civil war may have had the coolest guestlist (war-wise), but it also ushered in four decades of General Franco and his region-quashing, Picasso-hating, bullfight-loving dictatorship.
Soccer evil: Spain’s all-passing rise is responsible for every soccer conversation you have with an indie nerd featuring the phrases “tiki-taka,” “false nine,” and “Sid Lowe."
Most evil player: All the current ones are too perfect, so here’s ex-player Andoni Goikoetxea, the “Butcher of Bilbao,” who kept the soccer boot he ruined Maradona’s ankle with in a glass case in his living room.
Qualifiers: Italy (1st), Spain (2nd)
Historical evil: Let’s just say that as an Englishman, I feel guilty, anxious, and bereft all the time. Can we leave it at that?
Soccer evil: I’d suggest soccer hooligans, but in 2012 our economy's largely propped up by ad men, music video directors, and filmmakers appropriating their oh so English hipness. So, it’s God-bothering, disabled person hating managers (Glenn Hoddle), Alan Shearer, and pretending to be really honest while actually being fucking dirty.
Most evil player: John Terry, AKA Captain Racism.
Historical evil: Sure, there’s du pain, du vin and du borsin, but there’s also dark imperial wars, bitching at us after we saved their asses in WWII, and an ongoing Catholic versus Protestant thing that makes Northern Ireland look like a multi-faith Vegan brunch run by Global Witness. Also, you’ve seen La Haine, right? Paris doesn't exist solely to throb in the imaginations of shy 16-year-old girls from the Home Counties who see Amelie more times a week than their own fathers.
Soccer evil: The last World Cup saw striker Nicolas Anelka tell star-sign obsessed coach Raymond Domenech to go fuck himself before going home on a private jet, players fighting on the training ground and Thierry Henry’s unimpressed face. Then they all had to go to Sarkozy and explain why they did so badly. ("Sorry boss, we're massive dickheads and we hate each other.") Things weren't any better this time round.
Most evil player: Samir Nasri—face like a Harlequin baby, chider of journalists, hater of teammates, dangerous driver, ego of a haughty French duke.
Historical evil: Beneath their cool exterior lies a cool heart of darkness. Beneath their blond heads lie brains of rampant, locked up evil. This is a country of Columbine killers.
Soccer evil: Swedish teams are often made up of endless, relentless processions of hard-working blond automatons. And there’s something slightly evil about that.
Most evil player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who once ran less in a game than his team’s goalkeeper, who used to hit his teammates in training and who shoots boars. He’s great.
Historical evil: Blame it on Stalin.
Soccer evil: The kind of ceaseless racism UEFA really should have looked into before letting them host the tournament.
Most evil player: Andriy Voronin—for this off-duty Euro club proprietor look.
Qualifiers: England (1st), France (2nd)
Next phase (quarter-finals):
Russia Vs. Holland
Germany Vs. Greece
Italy Vs. France
England Vs. Spain
Follow Oscar on Twitter: @oscarrickettnow
More Euro 2012 stuff: The VICE Euro 2012 Drinking Competition!
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