The World Cup is going on and there are $35 million reasons Brazil will be smiling and thanking FIFA. According to SFGate, the runner-up leaves Brazil with $25 million, and just for being in the tournament, a nation collects $8 million. The total prize money is $358 million. The total fund split among the 32 teams is $576 million, up 37 percent from the last World Cup, which was in South Africa in 2010.
Not that the players split the loot and charge off to the nightclubs of Rio to consume magnums of expensive Champagne. The cash is deposited in the vaults of the national soccer associations. Players are on personal bonuses. Players for reigning champion Spain will pull in $980,000 if they repeat. Left wing politicians back home are angry. The country’s economy is disfigured by mass unemployment; “an insult to the citizens,” cry the critics.
Perhaps, modest by comparison is Germany, offering a winner’s bonus of around $400,000 to Die Mannschaft, as the team is called. Drop down the money ladder to Cameroon. The team threatened to miss the World Cup, refusing to board the plane to Brazil if the numbers on offer were not improved. The soccer authorities caved. For the Indomitable Lions, Cameroon’s moniker, pride was at stake.
Sports Illustrated reports the Americans will be adding $76,000 to their individual checking accounts for making the trip to Brazil. A run to the quarterfinal reportedly could earn $400,000, a nice little earner for players making Major League Soccer wages at the league’s lower end. DeAndre Yedlin makes less than $100,000 a year playing at Seattle.
Besides counting out money, some in FIFA are battening down the hatches, weathering a storm of the ordure varietal. Sepp Blatter, the organization’s despot, attacked his critics this week accusing the press of being hell bent on destroying his private club. Corruption in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is the crux of the tempest. A safe harbor looks unreachable for Blatter. Key FIFA bureaucrats are bailing out on the boss. Bank it as unlikely he goes quietly to a retirement home in the Swiss Alps.
The first national anthems have been sung in Brazil. Some players sing along, others decline. In some countries, this could be seen as unpatriotic. Several key American players have been known not to move their lips. Consider it the strength of democracy.
The England team is under orders to sing God Save the Queen. In London, Elizabeth II will be watching closely to see which subject sings loudest. Knighthoods and other titles of the realm are at stake should England prevail in Brazil. Arise, Sir Wayne Rooney! Picture the Queen watching the World Cup in her slippers with her feet up on the sofa sipping tea while crunching chocolate biscuits.
World Cup team nicknames – Argentina trade under La Albiceleste, the white and sky blue. Brazil is known as Selecao, the selection. Belgium comes at you fiery with Les Diables Rouges or if you chat in Flemish, Rode Duivels, red devils. Australia bounces to the Socceroos, Nigeria swoops as the Super Eagles, Ivory Coast crushes opponents as Les Elephants. Top of the list is Algeria, Les Fennecs, the desert foxes.
The American lads are simply the Yanks. The world knows this, and they know the weave on the Stars and Stripes, and the tune of “The Star Spangled Banner.” And soon, they will know the United States in the Round of 16 at the World Cup!
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