World Cup Notes: The Going Gets Weirder

Anyone know what this is all about?

After the World Cup draw last December, the London tabloids claimed England had landed in “the best group since the Beatles.”

Considering the freaky results that have unfolded, though, they may want to change that to the Electric Prunes, or Captain Beefheart. And England is definitely having a strange trip (maybe they took the brown acid).

The Three Lions tied the U.S. on Robert Green’s infamous goalkeeping gaffe, then tied Algeria 0-0 while stars Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard appeared to sleepwalk for 90 minutes. After that one, they had a pudgy punter wander into their locker-room “looking for the toilet,” he said, before going on tell the team, “You are a disgrace.”

Also falling under the category of weird, if not psychedelic, were Slovenia’s drowsy 1-0 win over Algeria, courtesy of a goalkeeping error almost as bad as Green’s, and the U.S.’s furious rally in its 2-2 draw with the Slovenes—a game marred by a hallucinatory foul call by Malian referee Koman Coulibaly that denied the Americans an unprecedented comeback victory.

Then there are Slovenia’s Charlie Brown uniforms, and their doofus goal celebrations, in which half the roster circles up and twists their hands in the air above their heads as if unscrewing lightbulbs.

What is that, exactly—apart from very dorky and more than a little effeminate? Please advise in the comments if you have information on this deeply goofy ritual.

The strange goings-on were by no means limited to Group C(razy). Over in Group F(’d up), New Zealand tied Italy. No, really. That happened.

It was 1-1, and both goals were dubious—New Zealand’s may have been offside, and Italy’s was a penalty for the briefest of shirt grabs in the box. Put it this way: If that was a penalty, then what the Slovenian defenders did to the U.S. in the box late in last Friday’s game might require a firing squad.

The poor officiating ended up being a wash as—we repeat—Italy, with a pool of 3,541 professional players to call on, tied New Zealand, which has 25.

Speaking of poor refereeing, guess who was the fourth official in the Kiwi-Azzurri tilt?

Drumroll please….Mr. Koman Coulibaly.

Apparently, he has since been benched by FIFA, but we swear, he was out there on the touchlines for New Zealand-Italy.

Yesterday, Kaka of Brazil picked up a red card for the tamest of second-yellow offenses: a defensive, light forearm to the chest of Ivory Coast’s Kader Keita, who went down—as if by shotgun blast—clutching his face. But the Ivorians were also on the wrong end of some poor officiating, earlier in the game, when Luis Fabiano appeared to handle the ball, twice, en route to scoring Brazil’s second goal in a 3-1 win.

This morning, North Korea dominated the first 45 minutes against Portugal, only to get blown off the rain-drenched field in the second half, losing 7-0 in the most lopsided game of the tournament, and the biggest World Cup rout since Germany shellacked Saudi Arabia 8-0 in 2002.

All that weirdness, and we haven’t even gotten to France: Is there a French word for ‘meltdown’? When the President steps in to sort things out, you know it’s bad.

This tournament already has an official anthem, Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” and that unwieldy title is weird enough, but if this keeps up, they may want to bring in Gnarls Barkley for a rewrite.

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