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A World Cup prep quiz for skeptical Americans

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before (and I’m too lazy to search the archives), but I was once a soccer atheist.  Well, actually not an atheist… I mean, I was pretty sure that soccer existed, but growing up in rural North Carolina, there was little actual evidence of soccer as a sport. No youth leagues, no high school teams, no adult leagues… nothing.

In fact, one of my favorite junior  high memories involves a local restaurateur, who owned the local (and only) Greek restaurant, as he volunteered to teach soccer during PE class. After going over the basics (“Don’t use your hands,” “Kick with your instep,” and “Cheeburger, cheeburger, cheeburger!”), he turned us loose.  After about 20 minutes of country boys kicking straight on like Lou “The Toe” Groza, I’m pretty sure Mr. Whatshisnameakas was ready to flee the field. Possibly the country.

But, over time, I’ve grown to like, then somewhat love, the sport.  Again, a qualifier… I love top-tier soccer.  If it’s first-division European football or national teams going at it, fantastic.  If it’s MLS or lower, meh.

And the reason isn’t exactly the competition. It’s more of the intensity of the players on the pitch… of the fans in the stands… and of the  announcers, who oscillate between stately Brits to over excited Latinos (man, I’m just reinforcing stereotypes this evening… my bad).

With World Cup 2010 getting ready to start in South Africa, I thought I’d help other Americans who are on the verge of becoming a soccer fan… but are still a few friendlies short of top-tier status.  So, I present my prep quiz for World Cup 2010.  If you know this stuff, you will be able to fake your way through conversations with the soccer addicts in your life.

1. Practically all Americans have heard of Pelé.  What is his real name?

a) Pelé Jerome Williams
b) Pelemos pé de Deus
c) Edison Arantes do Nascimento
d) Jonathan Leibowitz

2. Both Portuguese and Brazilian teams are renowned for players who go by only one name. Which of these is NOT on the Portuguese roster this year?

a) Pepe
b) Beto
c) Deco
d) Pico

3. The Italian team is the defending champion. The squad is better known by what nickname?

a) The Azzurri
b) Tony Toni Tone
c) The Sopranos
d) The Italian Jobs

4. Joe Gaetjens is well-known for scoring the USA’s lone goal in a 1-0 mega-upset of England in 1950.  Where was Gaetjens born?

a) Haiti
b) France
c) Queens
d) Trick question.  The US could never beat England, dumbass.

5. Former Argentine striker Diego Maradona is now coach of this year’s squad.  Which of the following is NOT true about the pint-sized player?

a) Was suspended in 1991 for 15 months for testing positive for cocaine
b) Kilt him a bear when he was only 3
c) Scored the “Hand of God” goal against England
d) Has a picture of Fidel Castro tattooed on his left leg.

6. Who is Wayne Rooney?

a) Coach of the English team
b) Love child of deceased Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney.
c) English striker and all-around bad-ass
d) The principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

7. Did you know that both South Korea and North Korea are both in this tournament?

a) Seriously?
b) That’s crazy as shit
c) Wouldn’t it be cool if Kim Jon Il forced the coach to let him play in goal?
d) All of the above.

8.  Spain’s squad is known as La Furia Roja.  What does that mean in English?

a) The Red Fury
b) Red Dawn
c) Redd Foxx
d) Boom goes the dynamite

9. Why are you still taking this quiz?

a) I dunno. Bored?
b) There’s nothing on TV
c) I keep waiting for jokes. I get jokes
d) I’m a soccer die-hard.  Keep it coming.

10. What is Kaka?

a) “Poop” in Portuguese
b) A Brazilian mid-fielder
c) A cross-dressing Lady Gaga impersonator
d) About what this quiz is worth

Answers:

1. c
2. d, believe it or not
3. a.
4. a.
5. b.  He’s one crazy sum’bitch
6. c. And make sure you find some cool Youtube clips of this cat
7. d.
8. a.
9. Anything but d is cause for concern.
10. b.

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