THE ALTERNATIVE GUIDE TO THE WORLD CUP ; Germany 2006 the Biggest Contest in Football Kicks off on Friday. and While It's All Very Well Remembering Which Teams Are Playing 4- 2, and Who's Who in the Dugout, a Little Knowledge from the Sidelines Will Liven Up Your Post-Match Analysis. John Morrish Raids the Trophy Cabinet of Trivia and Ephemera
Morrish, John, The Independent (London, England)
PAINTED INTO A CORNER
A German animal welfare group has asked fans not to paint their pets. The plea comes after a stolen Maltese terrier called Simba was found decorated in the national colours: black, red and gold. The group, European Animal and Nature Protection, suggests that supporters might like to dress their pets in an appropriate strip instead. "No one needs to torture his dog by thoughtlessly painting it out of justified enthusiasm," Norbert Gilnster, of the group, said.
In Dubai, 3,000 spectators will watch the tournament from a World Cup Fan Park, featuring the largest television screen in the Middle East. Between matches they will be able to enjoy a variety of activities, from human table football, with teams strapped to poles and unable to move backwards or forwards, to face-painting.
ABSTINENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER
The manager of Ukraine, Oleg Blokhin, has entered the controversy about whether to let players have sex during the tournament (England are among those taking a vow of celibacy). If his team make it to the semi-finals, they can see their wives. Indeed, they'll be made to: "Those who don't feel like it, I'll just drag to their wives."
MEN IN BLACK
If there is a blizzard of red and yellow cards in this year's tournament, look on the bright side. Every fine paid by players will go to SOS Children, a charity that builds villages in disaster-hit countries. For the first time, each team of referee and two assistants (linesmen) will come from the same country and speak the same language. They will be connected together and to a fourth official, watching via television, by radio headsets. The only English referee is Graham Poll.
An early front-runner in the World Cup of Coiffure is Danijel Ljuboja of Serbia and Montenegro. He favours a skunk-style white stripe, in a manner tried and discarded by Djibril Ciss of France, whose follicles have more recently been carved into a homage to Hampton Court's maze. Meanwhile, feverish attention is being paid to the "do" to be adopted by David Beckham for England's opening match against Paraguay. Bookmakers are taking bets on styles including bald, mullet and dreadlocks. Another option is that he will have the name of at least one of his children spelt out on his head.
PRIDE OF GERMANY
The company producing this year's World Cup mascot has gone bust. Nici of Bavaria paid pounds 19m for a licence to market "Goleo", a footballing lion, in Germany. But the fluffy animal did not appeal to German fans whose emblem is an eagle. What's more, they were
perturbed by the fact that Goleo wears a number six shirt, but no shorts.
Team nicknames in Germany range from the frankly dull ("The blues", "Blue and Yellow", "Orange") to the slightly more exciting, with the African nations once again displaying some flair. Angola's "Black Antelopes" win out over Ivory Coast's "The Elephants". It's just a pity that the Central African Republic's "The Low-Ubangui Fawns" didn't make it this time. Meanwhile, the USA officially known as MNT ("Men's National Team") are suffering s nickname-envy. Fan suggestions include "The Young Guns " "The Bald Eagles " and "The Gringo They'll be sticking with MNT.
Switzerland have something t o in the current tournament They are the only team never to have won a game against any of the other participants.
The World Cup is expected to be followed by more people in the US than ever before, although many of them will be immigrants from more civilised nations. Jamie Trecker of Fox TV offered this explanation to help the indigenous population understand the offside rule: "It is considered unsporting to stand down at one end of the field and just wait for the ball to be lobbed to you to shoot on goal. So, it's not legal in the game. …