12 Global Sto­ries

Our monthly round-up of the stranger news in global foot­ball takes in kan­ga­roos, were­wolves, the Mona Lisa and Rafa get­ting the fil­ters out

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS -

1 NICE ART­WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT France Paris

Once la­belled “as valu­able as the Mona Lisa” by his agent Mino Raiola, Mario Balotelli tested the the­ory by snap­ping him­self sam­pling the Leonardo da Vinci doo­dle amid ru­mours he was leav­ing his club Nice. Po­ten­tial buy­ers from around Europe swiftly got in touch to say they’d be keen to pay big money to pur­chase the star of the photo… and they’d chuck in a fiver to buy Balotelli as well.

2 RE­STRICTED VIEW Bangladesh Dhaka

It might seem strange (not to men­tion dan­ger­ous) to watch the World Cup with a bag over your head, but such mea­sures were taken in Bangladesh, where folks viewed the ac­tion in the pour­ing rain on the streets of Dhaka. The bags were trans­par­ent, so the kids could see all of the ac­tion in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Ser­bia. Whether they were given some­thing a lit­tle more opaque for France’s goal­less draw with Den­mark, we can’t say. Oh and kids: don’t try this at home, or for that mat­ter out­side.

3 GET­TING ABOVE HIS STA­TION Eng­land Lon­don

Lon­don Un­der­ground knew ex­actly the best way to pay trib­ute to Eng­land boss Gareth South­gate after he guided the Three Lions to a World Cup semi-fi­nal: they named a Tube sta­tion after him. Just as Paris re­named their Metro sta­tions ‘Vic­tor Hugo Lloris’ (not bad) and ‘Deschamps-El­y­sees’ (bet­ter), South­gate sta­tion in north Lon­don was of­fi­cially called ‘Gareth South­gate’ for 48 hours. Sam Al­lardyce was gut­ted: be­fore he de­parted the Eng­land job, he’d had his eyes on ‘Sam­den Town’.

4 LES NOT-SO-MISERABLES France Paris

The cel­e­bra­tions in Paris didn’t stop at a few re­named Metro sta­tions. No, the French cap­i­tal went big on the night of Les Bleus’ tri­umph over Croa­tia. Thou­sands of fans gath­ered on the (Des)Champs-El­y­sees, where the Arc de Tri­om­phe was lit up in the colours of the French flag… the colours of the Croa­tia flag, too. Key play­ers were also beamed onto the arch – a tow­er­ing mon­u­ment with lim­ited mo­bil­ity, even Olivier Giroud got his face up there.

5 “FRIEND FIRST. BOSS SEC­OND. ENTERTAINER THIRD”

Eng­land West Kirby

The in­ter­net felt in­com­plete with­out an of­fi­cial Rafa Ben­itez In­sta­gram page, but the New­cas­tle gaffer has put it right. After post­ing a pic­ture of his dogs, the sec­ond im­age Ben­itez shared with the world was a Bren­tish photo of him pos­ing non­cha­lantly by some rocks in the Wir­ral. The hotly-an­tic­i­pated new al­bum, Facts, is re­leased on Au­gust 12.

6 KAN­GA­ROO 1 PUSSY RIOT 0 Aus­tralia Can­berra

In Rus­sia, pitch in­vaders are usu­ally fem­i­nist punk rock­ers on a protest. In Aus­tralia they’re kan­ga­roos. A mar­su­pial bounded onto the pitch dur­ing a women’s match be­tween Cap­i­tal FC and Bel­con­nen United, and stayed for 32 min­utes. Once caught, it prob­a­bly got the same treat­ment as Pussy Riot: taken to a kan­ga­roo court…

7 FROGGER GOES GLOBAL Rus­sia Ros­tov

Noth­ing con­fuses Rus­sians like a man in a frog suit, our grandad al­ways said. So, Ippei-kun, the mas­cot of Ja­pan’s Ehime re­gion, flew to the World Cup to cheer on the Blue Sa­mu­rai. He rode the Metro, watched Ja­pan’s clash with Bel­gium, and con­fused se­cu­rity guards when he ca­su­ally walked through the metal de­tec­tors to en­ter Red Square, putting out his arms for a full body search. They just waved him through.

8 “DIEGO TOLD THE TAXI DRIVER THAT HE WANTED TO SEE BREST” Be­larus Brest

Fresh from flip­ping the bird at World Cup fans, Diego Maradona was un­veiled as chair­man of Dy­namo Brest in Be­larus. True to form, the Ar­gen­tine ma­niac was pa­raded in some sort of mon­ster truck, be­fore watch­ing his new team lose 3-1 to Shakhtyor Solig­orsk. The face on the be­suited bloke walk­ing in front of Diego’s tank says it all.

9 FROM SCHEISSE TO SCHEESEN Ger­many Lin­den­fels

Ger­many’s con­fi­dence hasn’t been rocked by a dis­as­trous World Cup, if the Scheesen Race is any­thing to go by. A va­ri­ety of weird con­trap­tions raced around a foot­ball pitch near Frank­furt – among them a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang trib­ute, driven by two men wear­ing Me­sut Ozil and Toni Kroos masks and bear­ing the sign ‘Europameis­ter 2020’. Nice try, lads, but you’ve got no chance. Eng­land host the semi-fi­nals and fi­nal of the Eu­ros, and they’ve got Gareth South­gate. How could Ger­many pos­si­bly win in a sit­u­a­tion like that?

10 “THE KIDS WILL LOVE IT” Mex­ico Pue­bla

Liga MX side Lo­bos BUAP pre­pared for 2018-19 by dis­patch­ing two play­ers to meet an an­i­ma­tronic were­wolf who has clearly been work­ing those abs hard. Os­car Ro­jas and Omar Te­jeda were greeted by the daunt­ing 9ft crea­ture when they turned up at the lo­cal uni­ver­sity. There was even spec­u­la­tion that the were­wolf would be the club’s new mas­cot. It would ter­rify op­po­nents all right, but it might leave their en­tire ju­nior fan­base run­ning for the hills, too.

11 EV­ERY FOOT­BALL SHIRT NEEDS A RAIL­WAY BRIDGE ON IT Rus­sia Kras­no­yarsk

To liven up the monotony of Siberia, freshly-pro­moted Rus­sian Pre­mier League out­fit Yenisey Kras­no­yarsk have re­leased two eye-catch­ing new kits. One of them fea­tures a lot of lions, be­cause as striker Mak­sim Rud­nev says, “a lion never al­lows him­self to be fed up of old suc­cesses” (look out, At­ten­bor­ough), but the away kit wins with a full cityscape, in­clud­ing the cathe­dral and the rail­way bridge, which is a UNESCO her­itage site.

12 BI­CY­CLE AND STRING OF ONIONS NOT PIC­TURED Eng­land Lon­don

And we have an­other bridge to round off this month’s weird­ness: Pa­trice Evra ran­domly chose Lon­don Bridge as the back­drop when he dressed up in full mus­ke­teer garb ahead of France’s World Cup semi-fi­nal against Bel­gium. The for­mer Manch­ester United full-back and pa­tro­n­is­ing pun­dit had pre­vi­ously posed with a beret and baguette be­fore the tie with Uruguay. OK Pa­trice, we get it: you’re French. What’s next? Play­ing an ac­cor­dion, or maybe head­but­ting an Ital­ian?

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