World Cup of Evil: Group of Death
It may not be the killer group in the real World Cup, but Group D has some pretty heavyweight contenders in the World Cup of Evil.
Historical evil: There’s little need to go into detail except but it has something to do with lebensraum, blitzkriegs and beer hall putsches.
Football evil: German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher almost killing 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 the evil scale. In his autobiography, Schumacher claimed he was just going for the ball and deflected the attention away from his near-manslaughter by accusing all his teammates of massive substance abuse. Plus Jurgen Klinsmann popularised the dive, (but he also lived in Hampstead and drove a Beetle, so can’t be all bad).
Historical evil: Having been occupied by the Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians for centuries, the Serbs went from wistfully sipping coffee on the banks of the River Drina to having their big evil day in the sun. Aside from having fucking hard names to spell, Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic did some pretty dark stuff, as this Wild West style wanted poster suggests.
Football evil: When you look at Nemanja Vidic it’s not hard to imagine him boiling human heads in a bombed out city. I know it’s a big leap from body-checking someone on the football field to cannibalism, but still.
Historical evil: Founded by rapists, devoid of rabbits and culture, abandoned by Nick Cave and Germaine Greer - Australia is the land of racist surfing, where drowning aborigines are used as surfboards for by tanned jocks. It’s the land in which the idea of seafood and steak existing on the same plate is not only accepted but also celebrated. Evil.
Football evil: Unlike every other sport Australia plays, the Socceroos are plucky underdogs who enjoy overcoming their limited ability with a can-do attitude and a bundle of team spirit. Sure, they’re overbearingly competitive, how could they not be? But they don’t ever do that well, so it’s ok.
Historical evil: So there were definitely some bad military dictatorship times, and no-one can say that Jerry Rawlings was a great guy, but I’m not going to get caught up in any more Africa-bashing. As far as I’m concerned, that was all a blip and you can blame it on the British and the scarring they left by being so damn colonial.
Football evil: Apart from the mysterious failure of various big superstar hopefuls (Nii Lamptey anyone?), Ghana is a home for good footballers that are generally the age they say they are.
While it’s likely to be Germany and Ghana in the real thing, it’s a Hitler-Milosevic one-two in our Group of Evil. Australia came damn close but it’s hard to put them through given that their team is so honest and workmanlike and that Tim Cahill should definitely not have been sent-off.