You, today: *posts that Justin Timberlake “It’s Gonna Be May” meme*
Me, an intellectual: May means that the World Cup starts next month!!!!!!
Whether you’re an American who only follows the USMNT, whether you’re living in New Zealand and realising that most of the games are going to be on in the middle of the night, whether you’re just not that into soccer, you might not be feeling too hyped about the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup being held in Russia this June/July. However, I regret to inform you that this opinion is wrong and that instead you should be extremely hyped. If you need a little bit of assistance coming around to this valid and correct mindset, here are a few things you can do to help yourself out so that you’ll be ready to scream at your television and swear at the ref by the time June 14 rolls around.
Listen to the ‘We Came to Win‘ podcast
This excellent new podcast from Gimlet dives deep into some of World Cup history’s most important and memorable moments. 30 for 30-style, it features interviews from players, coaches, and others relevant to some of the iconic stories and teams of the cup. Like other Gimlet shows, We Came to Win is wonderfully produced and tells compelling stories that will interest those who have no interest in the sport and enthrall those who do. The first three episodes focus on England, the United States, and Zaire, three nations of varying footballing ability and history, but all with fascinating stories to tell, and more episodes will be released weekly in the lead up to that first kickoff of the tournament.
Watch ‘June 17th, 1994‘ and ‘The Two Escobars‘
Speaking of 30 for 30, it’s no coincidence that the best episodes of this powerful documentary series are about the best sport. Look, I don’t make the rules. The former film tells the story of one of the wildest days in sports history; while the opening of the 1994 World Cup in the USA may have been eclipsed by former athlete from the other football and his white Ford Bronco, it still adds to the drama of that fateful day. The latter doc is more tragic; juxtaposing cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar with Andrés Escobar, who was murdered after scoring an own goal that helped lead to Colombia’s World Cup elimination. If that doesn’t give you your fill of soccer-themed docs, 30 for 30 has a number of others including The ’99ers about the USWNT’s first World Cup win, but these two are the best.
Find your new favourite team
Just because the United States, Italy, Ireland, and a number of other World Cup regulars and fan favourites failed to qualify doesn’t mean that you have to watch the tournament as a neutral. Pick a plucky underdog and become their biggest fan for the month. Remember Iceland’s epic viking claps in the last Euros? Nigeria are called the “Super Eagles” so how can you not love them? Personally, I’ll be rooting for Egypt, who have qualified for their first World Cup since 1990; you can probably guess why but if you don’t know—or if you’re considering supporting them as well—you should probably watch this video (with the sound off, as with most football videos on youtube) and meet your new favourite player and/or deity.
Go see some live football
There’s nothing like watching sport from inside the stadium to really get your adrenaline flowing. Assuming you’re not hopping on a plane to Russia, there are still plenty of ways to get your live soccer fix for that enthusiasm-encouraging atmosphere. Most of the European leagues are ending for the summer soon, but the MLS is still in full swing and so is the NWSL, both of which feature former and current World Cup stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, Julie Ertz, and Alex Morgan. If you prefer the anticipation, the International Champions Cup takes place immediately after the World Cup, and although that timing means that most teams’ heavyweights will be taking well-deserved holidays, there’s still a good chance that some will feature (especially those from teams likely to get knocked out in the group stages).
Listen to the greatest World Cup song of all time
Waka waka, eh eh?
The World Cup is full of memorable moments on and off the pitch. In the good times, like watching your team progress to the knockouts or sharing a room with other die-hard fans as you cheer on your favourites, and in the bad, like when your team gets knocked out or when you’re in a bar of sad Brazilians while this happens literally across the street, it’s one of the greatest sporting events in the world, and always worth the hype.
Who are you supporting in the World Cup this summer?