The Group Stages
It may have come to your attention that there is apparently a minor football tournament taking place in France. Now, in some matches it’s obvious who to support (Scotland or England’s opponents) but in most cases, you will have no clear allegiance. Chatting to my mate John, during the Austria-Cameroon game, it became apparent that loyalties could be decided by evaluating each country on several factors:
- What babes come from there
- Cult movies the place has spawned
- Any miscellaneous TC factors involving sex, violence, beer, junk food or a good laugh
Taking this Damascus-style revelation to its ultimate conclusion, why not run the entire World Cup on this basis. Discussion raged — could Cicciolina play for Italy, since she’s actually Hungarian? Was Ulrika Johnson Danish or Norwegian? Did we know ANYONE from Paraguay at all? But, finally, after much argument (and beer), we have come up with the following results. Please note that all referees’ decisions are final, no matter how arbitrary and factually wrong they may in fact be…
Group A:Brazil, Scotland, Morocco, Norway
This one always looked like being a tight, low-scoring group, with none of the countries greatly renowned as exporters of trash culture. However, Brazil does export large numbers of the artistes for the London strip-pub circuit — and VERY nice they are too — so this gave them the edge. All Scotland can manage on the babe front are Sheena Easton and C.P.Grogan, neither of whom are exactly world-ranked totty, though the Shallow Grave/Trainspotting cartel does give them a solid second place. The only Norwegians we can think of offhand are Ibsen and Grieg, but that is at least two up on Morocco…
Group B: Italy, Chile, Cameroon, Austria
Italy are definitely one of the leading contenders for the trophy. Despite my severe reservations about much of their horror output, they are at least TRYING, and people like Michele Soavi put them well ahead in the cult movie category. They also lead for babes, with Asia Argento and the girl in Dellamore Dellamorte easily surpassing anything the other contenders have to offer. Austria do great pastries, however, and the double bill of arse-kicker, Sybil Danning and Arnold Schwarzenegger give them the runners-up spot. Cameroon come third, purely because I like the idea of a country named after a coconut-covered piece of confectionery.
Group C: Saudi Arabia, Denmark, France, South Africa
France hit heavy here, a front-line of Beart, Adjani and May proving more than enough firepower to take out the opposition. They are potentially weak in the field of cult movies, with only Luc Besson really pulling out of the “pretentious” category. But Paris is one of the world’s great cities and so their victory is solid. Denmark follow in second, with Lars Von Trier captaining their side. Besides, how can you NOT like a country which has an amusement park slap bang in the middle of the capital, and where people think sawing heads off mermaids is a bit of a lark? South Africa beat Saudi Arabia, simply because the latter don’t like you drinking alcohol. Bastards.
- South Africa
- Saudi Arabia
Group D: Paraguay, Bulgaria, Spain, Nigeria
This one was known as the ‘Group of Death’, and from the TC point of view, it’s renamed the ‘Group of Bored to Death’, as only Spain has even the slightest pedigree, and Pedro Almodovar can’t direct traffic. Despite this, him and breast-obsessed Catalan Bigas Luna are sufficient to lead this group, simply because none of the other three contenders score any points at all. Bulgaria go through, being slightly nearer the beginning of the alphabet than the other two — that it comes to this, is some indicator of the weakness of this group.
Group E: South Korea, Mexico, Holland, Belgium
Possibly the closest of the groups. Neighbours and rivals Holland and Belgium fought it out, toe-to-toe, right up until the finish. Belgium snatched the lead after cult films: Man Bites Dog, Rabid Grannies, Crazy Love and Daughters of Darkness are a four-pack any nation would covet, while Holland only have the early works of Paul Verhoeven (now playing for the US team, of course). Holland do fight back under babes, with Renee Soutendijk and Audrey Hepburn, but Belgium clinches it thanks to multiple scores in the “food and drink” category, notably chocolate and beer [I’m sitting here with a Stella as I write this], and this pushes them to victory. S.Korea pip Mexico, but so far back it’s not worth discussing.
- South Korea
Group F: Yugoslavia, Iran, Germany, United States
Germany, of course, have the TC equivalent of Ronaldo, in a certain N.Kinski, backed up with C.Schiffer and a bevy of other babes, as witnessed on the recent Hamburg trip. On the cult film front, Werner Herzog and Jorg Buttgereit team up as an effective force, and the staple diet of beer, sausage and more beer naturally endears them to us. But America virtually INVENTED trash culture, and are still among the best in the world; behind Fred Olen Ray and Roger Corman, you’ve got Las Vegas, Jerry Springer, and Pamela Anderson, all of whom are TC icons. Such a performance naturally installs them as among the favourites. Yugoslavia are third, beating out perhaps the second least TC-esque country in the world, Iran. I don’t think Afghanistan took part this time…
- United States
Group G: England, Tunisia, Romania, Colombia
Of course, as a true Scot, it pains me to see England winning ANYTHING, but it has to be said that they do deserve their place here, if only because few of the other teams have anything much to offer. Oddly, the strongest suits of Romania and England tie in: the coolest thing about Romania is the vampiric traditions of Transylvania, and the best-known cult movies to come out of England are the Hammer films. Perhaps this will allow Romania to claim Ingrid Pitt and Winona Ryder as honorary Rumanians, but even so, they can’t really compete with the likes of Jenny Agutter. Colombia beat Tunisia for no readily apparent reason.
Group H: Argentina, Japan, Croatia, Jamaica
Finally, one of the most lopsided groups, with Japan strolling to the title, a country mile ahead of their rivals in every way. The Godzilla films alone would be enough to give them victory in this group, and that’s discounting anime, women’s wrestling, Gunhed, Yukari Oshima, selling schoolgirl saliva, techno-obsession, and all the other facets of life there which delight and entrance (at least from the safe distance of 8,000 miles, it’s a lot less pleasant to have it living with you, let me assure you). Nobody else is even in the same park, Argentina just edging it, largely for being next to Brazil, and being the home of corned beef.
The Second Round
Brazil vs Austria
Italy vs Scotland
France vs Bulgaria
Spain vs Denmark
Belgium vs Germany
United States vs Holland
England vs Argentina
Japan vs Romania
At this stage, we take a pause. The first two knock-out phases will take place next week, and we welcome all comments as to who should win these games. These will be taken into account, along with our own prejudic…er, opinions, to decide the eventual winners of the tournament. Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours, Ref Hunter J.
On to the next phase!