12 Global Stories
Mankini-wearing pitch invaders, JT becomes the Honey Monster and Robin van Persie gets ready to gatecrash the kabaddi – the last few weeks have been plain odd
1 “WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I’M BANNED FROM THE STADIUM?” Turkey Denizli
One Denizlispor supporter knew exactly what to do when he was slapped with a one-year stadium ban: hire a massive crane and park it outside the ground for the next home match. He was soon towering over his fellow fans at the Ataturk Stadium – attaching a giant green and black flag to the end of the crane, the scarf-twirling fanatic even conducted chants as Denizlispor beat Gaziantepspor 5-0. He’ll be selling tickets up there next.
2 BORAT’S A PLZEN FAN Czech Republic Plzen
Viktoria Plzen have made it back to the Champions League group stage for the first time in five years: the excitement has clearly got the better of some fans. During a win over Karvina, one chap stripped down to a Borat-style green mankini and darted onto the pitch. He was only halted when a steward opted against a rugby tackle, instead going feet first with a cynical challenge from behind. He clearly had no intention of playing the ball – either of them.
3 BRAZILIANS WORSHIP JESUS Brazil Sao Paulo
You know those stories where people are convinced they can see Jesus on a piece of toast, or a random shroud in Turin? It’s only happened again: this time on houses in Sao Paulo. Actually, it’s a mural in honour of the Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus, who’s from the area. FFT wants every World Cup star to get honoured in this way – an anonymous-looking Mesut Ozil having a disappointing impact on a wall in Gelsenkirchen, or the bemused face of Phil Jones on a Preston chip shop.
4 FLAME-GRILLED HAMBURGERS Germany Hamburg
It all kicked off when Hamburg were finally relegated for the first time in the Bundesliga’s history. They’d previously had a clock celebrating their 55-year run in the top flight – so fans of visiting team Monchengladbach brought their own clock, ticking down to zero. Things turned ugly when some home supporters, furious at relegation, threw flares onto the pitch and riot police had to step in. At least you can visit loads of new grounds next season, eh lads?
5 GONZO JOURNALISM England London
Paul Merson has always been a pundit renowned for considered thought, but his reasoned analysis went awry after Huddersfield remained in the top flight. He had inexplicably insisted that he’d dress up as Gonzo if they stayed up. As a result, Merse ended up looking like a right Muppet, live on Sky. Not for the first time, some might suggest…
6 AERIAL PRESENCE Saudi Arabia Jeddah
Behold, the finest pitchside marketing in the history of football. To mark the King’s Cup final, Saudia airline decided to plonk a 25-foot aeroplane on one touchline, complete with four pilots. It gets better: throughout the match, the plane followed the ball by moving up and down the touchline on a rail. The four pilots initially looked a little uncomfortable to be the focus of the TV cameras, but relaxed once they’d hit the cruising altitude of zero feet.
7 JOHN TERRY: CAPTAIN, LEADER, HONEY MONSTER England London
All the stars were out for David Luiz’s birthday party, with many turning up in fancy dress. Ex-Chelsea team-mate Asmir Begovic dressed as NFL star Tom Brady, while fellow former Blue John Terry arrived as the Honey Monster. Terry’s attire might have seemed surprising, but it made sense: back in the day, the Honey Monster starred in a TV advert where he leapt out of the stand in full costume and promptly lifted an important trophy. So that’s where JT got his inspiration in Munich...
8 “WHO’S THIS ANNOYING BLOKE WITH THE TRAFFIC CONE?” England London
Don’t you just hate it when you’re at a big event, but you can’t see a thing because you’re stuck behind some guy with a hat shaped like a traffic cone? At the darts, that guy was Robin van Persie, who arrived sporting the wacky headgear to cheer Michael van Gerwen. RVP had a great time, so watch out for him at more random sports soon: with a vuvuzela at the snooker, and starting Mexican waves at the kabaddi.
9 DANI ARE YOU OK? ARE YOU OK, DANI? France Paris
Dani Alves may be out of the World Cup because of injury, but he’s keeping his spirits up. The full-back celebrated his birthday the only way he knew how: by dressing up as an inflatable ballerina, flanked by five masked henchmen. Alves even posted a video of himself dancing in his bizarre costume. If that’s what makes you happy on your special day, Dani, then you go for it.
10 WHAT A DICK… Netherlands Emmen
When a play-off match pitted Sparta Rotterdam against Emmen, the fans simply couldn’t resist. With managers Dick Advocaat and Dick Lukkien going head to head, Emmen fans unveiled a banner saying, ‘Our Dick Is Bigger’. They were right of course, Advocaat is only 5ft 7in tall, and was defeated in the play-off as Sparta were relegated. Emmen’s head honcho could now be in demand, but rumour has it he only negotiates in the small hours: clubs will have to be up all night to get Lukkien.
11 IS THAT YOU, JEFF STELLING? England Hartlepool
Rival fans might say Hartlepool have resembled a bunch of clowns for some time now, lurching from crisis to crisis. Fans did dress up as clowns for their last game of the season – an annual tradition that has previously seen them turn up as Stormtroopers, Smurfs and Oompa Loompas. Things have got so bad for Pools that they were probably just glad to avoid the embarrassment of wearing Hartlepool shirts for the day...
12 THE WORLD’S OLDEST TABLETHROWING FOOTBALLER Chile Santiago
Sebastian Abreu set a new world record recently after joining his 26th pro club at 41, so presumably he’s feeling pretty mellow in his old age? Er, no. The former Uruguay World Cup star is nicknamed ‘El Loco’, and he showed exactly why during a game for Chilean side Audax Italiano – throwing a table at his club’s own supporters in response to criticism at the final whistle. Maybe he’ll have calmed down by club No.27?