Joanne O’Riordan: your alternative guide to World Cup survival
Viewing contracts need to be drawn up as the eyes of the west turn towards Mother Russia
Egypt fans gather near Red Square on the eve of the World Cup. Photograph: Gleb Garnaich/Reuters
For those who have been stuck on planet Zog the last few months, all eyes will be on Russia for the next month or so, as 32 teams battle it out at the pinnacle of the beautiful game.
Will Gonzalo Higuain blow another World Cup for Lionel Messi, denting the legacy of the latter for another four years and cementing the ‘bottler’ legacy of the former? Will my mother stop eating her homemade apple tarts every time Cristiano Ronaldo scores and whips his top off, showing his impeccable - yet, according to her, disgusting - abs? Will Neymar. . . actually, ignore him. I’m a Barcelona fan, it still hurts.
Either way, it’s spectacles upon spectacles upon spectacles. I love nothing more than a useful guide, so, I have decided to bore you with yet another Joanne O’ Riordan Guide To Russia 2018.
Firstly, the inevitable workplace draw that takes place every four years. The World Cup draw is somewhat of an O’ Riordan speciality. My brother in Sweden gets forgotten every time, and there will always be a guaranteed fight. Someone who wanted Spain got Morocco, a non-Liverpool fan got Egypt and doesn’t understand the Mo Salah love-in, and somewhere in between, we have the horrible Sepp Blatter-like sibling who’s willing to take bribes to make sure the highest bidder receives the goods. It got so bad, we proceeded with an obligatory investigation followed by a tribunal.
After about three weeks of nobody caring about the corruption within Millstreet, the O’ Riordan investigation into the O’ Riordan’s concluded that the O’ Riordan’s were not acting fraudulently, instead in their best interests. I was flabbergasted. Even more flabbergasted that I paired myself with Panama.
So, now that we have now learned how not to do a workplace draw, the next thing is match etiquette. Don’t call me crazy, it’s a huge deal. When I moved to York on an Erasmus program from UCC, my first wonder was how do I explain to my new housemates that my former roommate, who was a law student, and I drew up a match-watching contract.
My old housemate was not into sports, but we knew our only way of surviving was by drawing up this contract. There were necessary agreements, like don’t shout for the rivals, arrive 30 minutes before coverage starts and don’t tell me your life story while Eamonn Dunphy tells me that Ronaldo is a cod. I care less about your sixth birthday party than Dunphy filling me in on how football is dead. After the game, well, if my team wins, fantastic, but, if not, I’m not responsible if you hear all 13 swear words known to man.
Another form of match etiquette is to never ask the lady in the room if she likes sports, to prove it by either retelling the story of how Javier Mascherano tore his anus while tackling Arjen Robben in Argentina’s 2014 World Cup semi-final against The Netherlands or strategically analysing how it’s possible for a woman to like sports unless a male figure in her life influenced her.
I’m against the thought if you don’t watch football then you should be scrutinised throughout the entire World Cup. It’s a globally unifying event. It’s 2018, boys, don’t fall off the chair when you read that women actually play sports now. As an aside, if the lady in the room is waiting for Love Island because Tunisia and England is boring, let it go, avoid the patronising eye roll and carry on with your life.
My favourite thing about this year’s World Cup is that I have faced and answered many questions about Russia. Remember when we had a shimmer of hope against the Danes? That was probably the most popular I had ever been. I had been in Russia a year previously with my documentary and bizarrely, didn’t meet any Russian hooligan called Vladimir who had been bare-knuckle boxing off a motorway 45km outside of Moscow. He probably exists, but I didn’t meet him in the street. Moral of the story: I survived.
Sure, it was hilarious when my Russian aide told me everyone in Moscow is too depressed to smile (she said it without smiling), and sure, I really enjoyed the line where she said Putin sees all, but, while in Moscow for a whole week, everyone tried to help - although they had never seen a limbless girl before, and they were sort of enthusiastic about the World Cup. Yes, it’s shrouded with human rights atrocities and corruption, but I learned the Russians do not care about my western narrative - they’re in love with Mother Russia and I can guarantee you that will be the running theme for the next month.
Now that you have sieved through my insane guide to Russia 2018, all I can say is this will be a mix of death with a sprinkle of humour, magic and everything inbetween. In the most Hunger Games way I can see it - Let the Games Begin And May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favour!