Who's the booziest?
Philipp Lahm, pictured above being doused in beer after Bayern Munich's Bundesliga triumph in 2016/17, won't be taking part in the 2018 World Cup, but alcohol will feature heavily - if not within the team hotels, then certainly back home among fans of many of the competing countries.
Using data compiled by Statista and sourced from Ipsos, this slideshow reveals the top 10 World Cup-bound nations with the highest consumption of alcohol per capita a year.
10. Spain – 9.25 litres
Winemaker Andres Iniesta also plays football for Barcelona and the Spanish national team, who will be gunning for glory at the World Cup in Russia; meanwhile, their fans will be gunning the grog back at home.
The sangria-loving nation rank 10th in this table thanks to their average of 9.25 litres of alcohol consumed per person per year, although the government is currently clamping down on law-breaking football clubs – including amateur ones – selling booze at their grounds.
9. South Korea – 9.33 litres
A surprise inclusion, perhaps, but the 2002 World Cup co-hosts are the only Asian nation to make it into the top 10. A separate study in 2014 found that South Koreans consume more hard liquor than any other nationality on the planet, beating second-placed Russia by a remarkable 7.4 shots a week per person.
The vast majority of drinkers are downing Soju, a fermented rice spirit whose name translates as “burned liquor”. Perhaps Tottenham forward and Korea linchpin Son Heung-min will allow himself a shot if South Korea beat world champions Germany in the 2018 groups.
8. Denmark – 9.64 litres
It’s a belief popularly held that alcohol helps to warm you up (if medically incorrect: it moves warm blood closer to the surface of your skin but lowers your core temperature). Perhaps that’s the reason Denmark – one of the coldest countries in Europe – rank so highly on this list, at 9.64 litres a year consumed per capita.
Danish laws on purchasing alcohol are also kinder than many other countries, with 16-year-olds permitted to buy beer and wine from shops.
7. Australia – 9.7 litres
Australia certainly didn’t have an easy journey to the World Cup, contesting 22 qualifiers – more than any other competing nation – on the road to Russia. Plenty of booze was presumably consumed during that marathon run, and Australians will hope to be celebrating with a can of Castlemaine XXXX.
Tim Cahill might even join them if the Socceroos perform well in Russia, which would bring back memories of the former Everton man being thrown out of a nightclub on the same day in 2009 that Australia unveiled their bid to host the 2018 World cup.
6. Russia – 10.12 litres
The 2018 World Cup hosts are big on their spirits, with vodka particularly popular throughout the world’s largest country. Attempting to combat alcoholism, in 2012 the authorities introduced a nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol between 11pm and 8am.
According to Russian legend, prince Vladimir the Great dismissed Islam when it came to choosing a state religion for the country in the 10th century due to its rejection of alcohol.
5. Great Britain – 10.66 litres
Ipsos’ study only includes data for Great Britain, but it’s safe to assume England’s figures aren’t too dissimilar from those which also include Scotland and Wales.
Arsene Wenger was horrified by his Arsenal players’ drinking habits when he first arrived in the country in 1996, but things have changed a great deal within the game since then. Alcohol remains a big part of British culture, though, and there’s bound to be plenty of it drunk – either in celebration or, more likely, commiseration – during the World Cup.
4. Poland – 10.71 litres
The origin of vodka remains hotly disputed, but Poland has the strongest claim to being the drink’s creator. With beer increasingly popular in the Eastern European state, Poland comfortably make the top four in this list with an average of 10.71 litres consumed per person each year.
After a 2-1 victory over Republic of Ireland sealed the Poles’ place at Euro 2016, Robert Lewandowski was reported to police for breaching the country’s ‘Act on Safety of Mass Events’ by taking a celebratory swig of champagne on the pitch.
3. Germany – 11.03 litres
It’s a tradition for Bayern Munich players – including Germany internationals Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Jerome Boateng among others – to attend Oktoberfest, the largest beer festival in the world.
Beck’s, Erdinger and Bitburger are among the famous beer brands in Germany, where the consumption of 11.03 litres of alcohol per capita a year puts them in the top three of this list.
2. France – 11.5 litres
Widely considered the world's foremost wine-producing nationality, the French are certainly partial to an alcoholic beverage. Their 11.5 litres per capita per annum lifts them into second spot ahead of Germany, but finishing as runners-up would probably be a disappointment for Les Bleus in 2018.
Former France winger David Ginola turned his hand to winemaking after hanging up his boots in 2002, and was awarded a silver medal at the International Wine Challenge six years later.
1. Belgium – 12.6 litres
In 2016, UNESCO added Belgium’s beer culture to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, starting “beer culture in Belgium contributes to the economic and social viability at local level and the constitution of the social identity and continuity of its bearers and practitioners.”
It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that this European country of 11 million people consumes more alcohol than any other World Cup nation. Manager Roberto Martinez and star striker Romelu Lukaku are both teetotal, but there'll be plenty treating themselves to a tipple or two if the Red Devils lift the trophy next summer.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.