How to deal with World Cup virgins


Lots of non-football fans will be watching the World Cup, which can only be a good thing. But the great uninitiated hordes of Johnny and Jenny Come Latelys will be asking you lots of questions about the game. Sometimes silly ones.

Some newbies may be genuinely interested in the World Cup, and some won’t be. We’ve compiled a set of answers to their inevitable questions – for both cases. Use answer A for the genuine ones, B for those who are secretly itching to do something else.

From the offside rule to why David Beckham/Gary Lineker/Jonny Wilkinson isn’t playing, your guide to everything World Cup virgins need to know, so you can watch games in (relative) peace. It’s quizzactly what you need…

Q: C’mon Ing’lund! So, you know about football: will England win the World Cup then, or what?ANSWER A: It’s unlikely. If Wayne Rooney stays fit and other countries don’t notice our goalkeeper is bobbins we should get to the quarter-finals, maybe even sneak into the semis. But then we’ll most likely face Brazil, who are better than us. They will probably beat us. Probably on penalties and with a red card involved somewhere. We know it’s coming but it will still hurt. Please don’t stab any Russians afterwards.ANSWER B: Yeah, deffo. And stick your money on Gazza as top scorer.

Q: Sigh. Why do England always lose on penalties? A: England have the worst record at penalty shootouts. They lack mental fortitude – they don’t think they will win. The Germans, for example, think they will win at penalties, so they usually do. Belief is really important in football. B: Because they never practise them.

Q: You know what – I’ve had an idea – why don't they practise them?A: They do. But taking a kick in front of your mates in training is a world away from game conditions, with 60,000 fans screaming abuse at you and millions watching on the box.B: That’s a cracking idea. Did you apply for England manager last time round? No? You should next time.

Q: But surely penalties are easy? Even I can do it!A: Well, like we say, it’s easy if… No, you’re right. It is easy. They should be able to score from 12 yards.B: I don’t know why you didn’t make the squad.

"Ooh, he caught it. Is that bad?"

Q: Will England lose on penalties again this time?A: If it comes to it, probably, yes. Though manager Fabio Capello has instilled a new fairly un-English, single-minded mentality into the squad, so you never know...B: Yes.

Q: Wait, Fab who? That’s not a very English name…A: The England manager is Italian. There aren’t any good English managers about (we realised too late that Roy Hodgson was a secret genius). The last one was English and couldn’t even qualify us for the European Championships, which was embarrassing. So we went with this guy. He’s been pretty good so far.B: He’s from Doncaster.

Q: So, what’s this offside thing they keep going on about?A: Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once. When the ball’s played forward, all attackers in the opponent's half must have at least two opposition players (which usually includes the goalkeeper) between them and the goal. There are a few nuances, but that’s the gist of it. Yes, sometimes the referee and assistant referees get it wrong.B: You’ll only ask me again in 10 minutes, so I might as well tell you that… When anyone goes off the side of the pitch, they’re offside.

Q: So, why don’t they have television replays like almost every other sport?A: They should have, obviously. Something to do with the head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, being a big berk.B: David Beckham said he didn’t want it. His word is the law.

Q: Ooh yeah, why isn’t David Beckham playing? He’s still way hot.A: He’s injured. Plus he would have been used only sparingly, as a sub, anyway. B: He’s injured. He got poisoned by the ink from too many tattoos.

"Thanks for remembering me!"

Q: What about little Michael Owen? I remember that amazing goal he scored in the 1996 World Cup final against Scotland that time...A: He’s injured too. And wasn’t picked by Fab when he was “fit"”. He’s broken.B: He transferred to Germany, the traitor.

Q: Oh look, John Terry. Boooooo! I hope he scores a home goal.A: It’s an OWN goal. A goal scored against a team by one of their own!B: Me too.

Q: Why is this commentator, Clive Tilsly, such a buffoon?A: I share your pain. He can’t help it. He went to the university of buffoonery.B: I share your pain. He can’t help it. He went to the university of buffoonery.

Q: And that Ronaldo – he’s brilliant – why isn’t he playing for England?A: Because he’s a slimy Portuguese winker.B: Oh look, I think Peaches Geldof just walked past the pub. Quick! Autograph! Run!

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