The World Cup is here. The quadrennial celebration of the beautiful game has arrived. The only time the armchair football coach, his protege, ‘knee injury prevented me going pro’ son and other clueless ones find themselves glued to the screen. The flags are up everywhere, and the official World Cup song has made itself an unwelcome visitor on my “for you page”. So, for the casual fan who wants a bit of a clue as to what is going on, or the not so casual one who has stumbled across my section and still wants to keep reading, welcome to my all-inclusive World Cup info guide for the oxford student.
Should I watch the World Cup?
Well I mean it’s already started, you’re late to the party. Still, as an economist I raise you: if watching the games provides you equal or greater enjoyment than doing your reading or problem sheet you should do it. It’s basically the end of term, your time to try and be a good student is over, join the rest of us on the dark side.
Where do I watch games?
For the naturalised fan, who makes live football a staple of their weekend this really isn’t a consideration, but for those among us who aren’t used to watching live games, do not fret, you have endless options:
Your JCR/college bar:
A lot of people don’t have TVs in their room, conveniently a lot of JCRs do. Not to mention the comfy couches that they all have. Shout to Wadham’s JCR, I wish we could be like you. Most colleges have the big games on in their bars or JCR, providing you with the means of watching the game as well as the convenience of only providing you the games that are interesting fixtures. If you happen to be living under a rock and you didn’t realise this, get yourself down there now! Mind you, if you are a social hermit, this is unfortunately not the place for you. Don’t go and be that person pulling faces when the more passionate fans among us start to get a little vocal mid-game. You’re meant to enjoy it, if you do, you’re on the first step to geezerhood.
O’Neil’s, Chequers and all other sports bars and pubs:
Pros: This is the proper true Brexit geezer experience. If you thought your college was lively, this is a different gravy. Yes, the volume will be cranked up to 100, but good luck trying to hear the person next to you. You will however, have a nice pint in the vicinity and have plenty of level 100 geezers going on about the game to help pick up the important stuff.
Cons: This is the true Brexit geezer experience. You will not find me anywhere near here unless I’m behind the bar therefore getting paid to be there.
In your room with your friends, watching the game on your laptops:
A humbling experience. Once the game goes one, the laptop will spontaneously warn you that it’s about to die, and the game will start to lag and buffer like you’ve never seen before, but at least you can complain in company. However, there are times when you are burdened with the curse of having friends who hate football. Don’t give up, you can still get them to watch. Pulling this off does take a bit of expertise. Ideally, get them in the room unsuspectingly, then stand in the doorway with the laptop preventing them from leaving, making sure to put it on before they have a chance to say no. I can verify this method works, it is how I got my staircase to watch certain AFCON games in Hillary— in fact, it worked so well that they started to support Egypt.
When taking your friends hostage stops working, your own company is the best company.
Who to watch
So now you’ve decided to watch the World Cup, and where you are watching it. Who are the big teams?
They are the Christ Church of World Cups, when you think of the World Cup, you think of this team. Five wins to their name, greater than anybody else, it’s hard to avoid these guys. Furthermore their fans are like the Tom Tower in Cornmarket Street: very hard to ignore. On a positive note, these guys can really dance and have a good time, something that Christ Church wishes it could do. Maths even backs up my theory: a mathematician’s model from this very university showed Brazil to be most statistically likely to win.
More like the Magdalen of the World Cup, rated by all but has just a smidge less “wow” factor than Brazil. In comparison to everyone else though they’re in a different league. If Cxford colleges were in a World Cup, I’d back these guys the way I always back Germany.
Being the reigning champions, they are in the proverbial Isis trying not to get bumped this year. But unfortunately, missing Benzema, Pogba and Kante seems like trying to compete without a few oars. All hope isn’t lost on the French because they are still favourites.
Not many Cxford analogies can be ascribed to this country. With alumnus of Maradona and soon to be Messi, I think all Oxford colleges fail to produce such good talent. Instead a good chunk of them are too busy producing lacklustre PMs.
For the sake of its group stage, it can be Oriel. Perhaps unfairly ridiculed, but a college that has many enemies. No one seems to like Oriel, and certainly in the group stages no one seems to like England either. But that’s alright cause at least they like themselves.
Watching in your contact hours.
Now for the more committed, World Cup watchers, the imminent problem you might stumble across is that especially for the group stages, there is going to be a lot of clashes with your studies. This however, is nothing you haven’t encountered before, you’ve already had the practice in back school.
There’s levels to this you see, lectures are easy, whack on the game with an air pod in one ear and the slides open in another window and you are good to go. This does assume that you are at least trying to pay attention to the lecture, but some man out here are shameless, only in the lecture for attendance.
Tutes are a whole different gravy. And also not for the faint hearted. Unfortunately here I can only recommend live score or a live feed of the game like BBC does. There’s no way your going to get away with watching a match on the sly in tutes. That being said, if you can manage it, then you are too good for oxford.
Other fun things.
Now, while football can be fun, it can also be extremely boring sometimes. Watching a 0-0 bout in the group stage is very dull. That’s when these fun activities can be employed.
Who is the better dressed manager.
Seems strange but I am convinced that the better dressed a manager, the more likely the team is to win. In the Euros two years ago, I distinctly remember remarking that Mancini and his coaching squad were cutting up a fine figure with their matching Italian blazers and lo and behold he found himself in the final with Gareth waistcoat Southgate. Given that Italy won, I’m convinced the theory is water-tight, mulling over which manager is better dressed will pass the time in a very dull game. Note Gareth seems to have ditched the waistcoat and unbuttoned a few buttons this tournament: England your chances are looking less bright.
Who’s the fittest.
None of this please. Leave that to 12 year olds on Tik Tok. I’m talking to you “Mrs Grealish 69”. Not but seriously I’m begging you to stop doing this so loudly, because the true Brexit geezers keep asking me about the offside rule cause of you lot. By the way, has anyone checked on Bellingham, he might’ve been kidnapped by the Tik Tok girlies, they’re obsessed with him again.
In this utter nonsense however, there should be a deeper story that there is always to be fun to be had in a World Cup. Whether you can list all the winners since 66’ or you just learned today that project Mbappe isn’t the French spinoff of project runway. It can be enjoyed by all. Aww, isn’t that nice.
Image Credit: Liondartois/ CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia commons.