It is perhaps the most bloodcurdling moment for hardcore, authentic football fans the world over- the time when insufferable idiots like me jump into the World Cup bandwagon to join in on the booing, cheering, pseudo-online analyzing and hashflagging because not doing so practically isolates one from the cool part of the world. Sorry we’re not, sor-ry, waka waka, eh, eh.
Truth be told, I am the Jon Snow of football. I knoo nuthin. I played only joke football (sipa bol) outside school when I was a kid, and my appreciation of the World Cup was only confined to buying a team Brazil Havaianas and an oversized ¡Españoles Luchan! shirt in 2006. I watched the Netherlands and Spain final in 2010 without rooting for anyone, saw the Philippines versus Sri Lanka match live in 2011 (viciously supported the Philippines with face paint) and interviewed the Younghusbands for an article, and that’s about it. Those are about the most footbally things I have ever done in my life. I don’t watch matches outside the World Cup; I don’t have a clear grasp of who plays where and I don’t use a first-person personal plural pronoun when referring to clubs (We won against Bayern Munich today; Our team will do better next time; We’ll never walk alone, etc. etc.). I’ve always regarded football as a sad, boring sport full of vain multimillionaire drama queens who regularly flop because they can’t properly score a goal.
But the World Cup, like any other major international sports event, is something one shouldn’t miss. It’s the biggest sporting event in the planet and it’s like the Halley’s comet: it only appears once in a long while and by the next time it happens you’re probably dead already. There’s just something about fighting for national pride by kicking a ball that captivates people to a point approaching religious fanaticism, and how could you just miss that? How could you?
But if you’re a football noob like me who wants to take part in the Waka-Waka Tiki-Taka Goo Goo Gaga awesomeness that is the World Cup, it’s not enough that you just randomly babble on about stuff without doing your homework. If you’re faking it, fake it good. Fake it til you’re so fake and don’t let others blow your cover. Don’t tweet go David Beckham win for England. Don’t. Let me help.
1. Do your research like your self-image depended on it
Day One of the World Cup and I almost tweeted, “Want to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic play.” Good thing I Googled first and found out the goddamn
Swiss Swedish player wasn’t playing at all. Sweden is not even qualified! Could you imagine just how acutely embarrassing that could’ve been? You need to do your homework before you say shit about the World Cup and the teams participating. Know why some insist on calling it soccer. Don’t root for a team that’s been eliminated in the qualifying rounds. Know all the nicknames of the teams and be able to properly identify which colors and spirit animals go where. For starters, the May 2014 issue of GQ is one helluva source of World Cup and football information for noobies and posers who’d like to know more about things to tweet about. It has info on relevant teams, players you can root for and hate, places where you can watch matches and even includes a goddamn transmutation table for when you’re a basketball fan and you’d like to know your team’s football equivalent.
2. Find a team to root for and love them like Ser Jorah loves Daenerys Targaryen
Before the World Cup started, I still didn’t have a team to support. I initially wanted to cheer for Germany for the shallow reason that I’m self-studying German and I find their curse words fabulous (Du Arschgefickter Hurensohn! Verdammte Scheiße!). But I really don’t know much about the German team. I don’t support Spain because supporting them was pretty mainstream and they raped the Philippines for 333 years, so I asked my Dutch friend for his expert opinion.
To be fair, I really think the Dutch team (or Oranje, as they are called) is the most underrated team in this World Cup. I also felt sorry for Arjen Robben in 2010 when he missed that goal that could’ve given the Netherlands their first World Cup championship. So moments later…
I was so into it I even tweeted something I didn’t even understand. I bet my friends thought woah this guy’s a hardcore Oranje fan, speaking in tongues and shit. The Netherlands went on murdering Spain 5-1 and Robin van Persie did a mind-blowing goal that you need to Google if you haven’t seen it yet. Robben also redeemed himself by scoring twice in that match. I knew I was rooting for the right team.
We have a full range of reasons why we’re devoting our energy for a particular team: if you’re a citizen of that country, if you speak the language and can relate to the culture of the team, if you have an emotional connection with the team and if you think the team has the most number of players with the tendency to randomly strip and flaunt rock-hard abs. It doesn’t matter. The point is, you need to root for something because it makes things more exciting. You’re making an emotional investment here and you have to be committed to it, no matter what happens.
(A moment of silence for Spain fans who still have Spain as their Twitter profile picture.)
Having a team to root for and supporting that team until the end makes for a wonderful roller coaster ride of emotions, prompting you to shout in front of the television and poison your online social networks with expletives.
3. Monitor the action and track your team like a paranoid girlfriend
Stop playing Candy Crush. Stop playing Clash of Clans. Stop touching yourself. You need to download the FIFA app now. The comprehensive app has real-time updates on matches, schedules, rankings, awards, stats, venues, teams and players, and even includes photos and videos. Even if you’re not watching a match live because you don’t have cable and your local channels don’t provide telecasts, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil app lets you know what’s happening as it happens. They even let you share photos of the ongoing match to your social media accounts. Tweets with photos add more points to your football fan cred.
4. Pollute cyberspace with your World Cup posts
Tweet about the national anthem. Tweet about the goals made even if your Twitter followers are also following the match and therefore know that a goal has indeed been made. Tweet about the kits. Tweet about the goddamn ball. Tweet about the grass, the vanishing spray, everything. Rephrase what the commentators say and claim it as your own authoritative opinion. Conduct an extensive post-match analysis with other bandwagoning enthusiasts. Share links and gifs your stupid friends can’t relate to. But most of all…
5. Enjoy the World Cup with the unbridled enthusiasm of a ~true football fan