World Cup is a celebration of colour, energy, national pride, and the largest
amount of horrendous tat since Santa Claus decided to do all his shopping at
Everything’s A Dollar one year.
culprit in this ham-fisted parade of plastic consumerism this year, without a
doubt, is the vuvuzela, the incessant background drone of which has made every
World Cup match sound like it’s being played in a beehive full of unsuccessful
politicians. This native trumpet fad brought a controversial element to the
current competition, its over-riding sound leading to calls for the
instrument’s banning and computer programs being sold that claim to cancel out
the frequencies in question. Soccer.com has the vuvuzela on offer for US$7.99
and you can, unfortunately, find them all over the place. But please don’t.
World Cup would be complete, either, without a ludicrous mascot of indeterminate
origin. Over the years there have been anthropomorphic oranges (Naranjito,
Spain 1982), bizarre Lego-stick figures with footballs for heads (Italy, 1990),
footballing dogs (USA 1994), roosters (France, 1998) and alien weirdos (Korea
& Japan, 2002).
time around there’s Zakumi, a leopard with green hair and, it has to be said,
something of a belly overhang. But who’s going to argue with a leopard –
particularly one that has the presence of mind to dye his hair green to be
better camouflaged against the pitch? Either way, as you would expect, Zakumi’s
image is splattered all over a plethora of products. Our favourite is the
official World Cup pen, which is named the Warhol, for no particular reason we
can work out. Unless it’s an oblique reference to the Factory-esque conditions
of manufacturers the Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products company, but we doubt
it. Either way, you can wear Zakumi on T-shirts, hoodies and baby grows, wash
your face on a Zakimi cloth, dry yourself down with the official Zakumi towel
and probably eat Zakumi-flavoured Cheetos too.
with any competition of this size there’s bound to be opportunists selling
unlicensed bootlegs at a knock-down price. Most prevalent are the sellers of
replica shirts, who respond to high prices by ignoring intellectual property,
undercutting the genuine retailers hugely and of course avoiding any sales or
that this counterfeit frenzy also means the manufacturers don’t have any
quality control standards, and they’re hardly ever sold by people you’re going
to want to complain to if the back of your dodgy Argentina shirt reads LIONEL
RITCHIE either. More sinisterly, this multimillion-dollar market is said to
fuel organised crime and child labour.
customs authorities in South Africa have confiscated at least $600,000 worth of
fake national shirts of England, Brazil, France, Portugal and South Africa from
a single Durban warehouse, and the UK Border Agency recently stopped 1,000 fake
Algeria shirts from entering Scotland, which makes less and less sense every
time we think about it.
World Cup truly brings nations together; tat is such a great leveller.