Soccer or, rather, football is the greatest sport in the world. Those who know me know that the beautiful game is all that plagues my mind. I am an avid follower of numerous leagues and players across the world. And thanks to the internet, I am able to watch my favorite pastime year-round. The World Cup happens every four years, and it's long been my custom to spend the month of its duration in a semicomatose alcoholic blissful state of hooliganism and camaraderie with my ne'er-do-well pals.
FIFA used to be a glorious institution that managed, with some discretion, to police itself and stay out of the limelight of scandal. That hasn't been the case recently, with allegations of bribery concerning Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid. And if that weren't enough, I have always found their misuse of music by commissioning and selecting "World Cup" songs to be a crime against nature.
I'm sorry, but when I'm full on the pist, screaming my head off, praying to all known deities that my team wins, and wanting to set the bleachers and perhaps some opposing fans on fire, the last thing I want is some fucking half-assed Ricky Martin or Shakira tune piping in through the sound system.
These ten songs are not about the Cup but are about the sport and as such were written by lovers of the game.
10. The Business - "Maradona"
These South London heavy-hitters struck gold with their track "England 5 - Germany 1" back in 2001, but it is this ode to Argentine phenom Maradona and his miraculous header against the U.K. in Mexico '86 that really gets it.
"The Hand of God" was one hotly disputed moment in Cup history, and it left many children of the Empire butt-hurt for decades. Now, Maradona went ahead and became a joke off the pitch with his socialist leanings and getting all buddy-buddy with the Castro brothers and Hugo Chávez. His penchant for cocaine and saying dumb shit is almost as legendary as his prowess on the pitch.
9. Attaque 77 - "Sola en la Cancha (Pasion de Multitudes)"
This love song to the best girlfriend in the world is also an open letter to Argentine footie powerhouse Boca Juniors by Attaque 77 on their 1989 album Dulce Navidad. Local outfit the Getback famously covered this song and changed the object of desire to the other heavy-hitter of Argentine footie, River Plate. While nothing escalated to the degree of the Soccer War of 1969, threats were made by parties unknown.
8. The Lightning Seeds - "Three Lions (Football's Coming Home)"
This song was written by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. It became a surprising hit for the Lightning Seeds who were able to milk enough juice out of it in 1996 and 1998.
Truth be told, the song is kind of blah, but it makes plenty of references to the '66 World Cup that was hosted in England and won by England. The Three Lions have been the symbol of England since their first international forays in the late 1800s. Given how closely tied they have been as a nation to the beautiful sport, this song only helps to highlight the fact that though they've been at it for three centuries, their sole moment in the spotlight was in 1966. Time to get over it boys.
7. Fat Les - "Vindaloo"
God, I love a good fucking curry. Fat Les might've formed to make a joke of footie songs by Blur's Alex James, actor Keith Allen, and artist Damien Hirst, but it grew into something of an adopted anthem by British fans.
These Brits are a funny bunch, while they can go from the extremism of crying over actions that occurred over half a century ago, they can still find some humor to elevate this nonsense into a funny piece of pop culture. Jesus. Now I'm craving a sloppy chicken vindaloo, giant papadums, little onions, and a dill pickle with some of that neon-green mint sauce that stains everything.
6. New Order - "World in Motion"
Another Keith Allen collabo, this time with the much revered New Order. And am I the only one who thinks it riotous that this song would become their sole number-one hit? Seriously. It doesn't seem too fair, does it?
5. Los Mentas - "La Vinotinto"
This song by Los Mentas is an ode to the hard work that has happened with the beautiful sport in Venezuela, a nation traditionally linked to baseball. As a sign of solidarity while that country continues its woes and armed strife against the communist dictatorship of "President" Nicolás Maduro and because, even if your team does not qualify for the Cup, you can still sing and dream. Here's a little fun fact: Did you know that Vinotinto captain Juan Arango is by the numbers the best left-footed direct free kicker right now?
4. Sultans of Ping FC - "Give Him a Ball (and a Yard of Grass)"
Irish punkers, the Sultans of Ping FC have been at it in one way or another since the '80s and they've been fueled by their immense love for the sport since the get-go. Another good one is "Kick Me with Your Leather Boots," but I don't think anything conveys the mythos of the game quite the way this song does. Plus, if God had intended the sport to be more aerial in nature, He would've put grass on the clouds.
3. Morrissey - "Munich Air Disaster 1958"
Morrissey's always been a weirdo, and there are a number of ways of interpreting this ode to Busby's Babes who perished in an airplane accident in 1958 after competing against Red Star Belgrade for a European Cup match. Of the 38 passengers and 6 staff aboard the Airspeed AS-57 Ambassador plane comprising the team, management, support staff and journalists, 23 died on site or resulting from injuries sustained during the accident. Famously, a 20 year old Bobby Charlton survived and went on to become the greatest footballer to ever wear the Three Lions.
2. Die Toten Hosen - "Bayern"
Ardent supporters of Fortuna Düsseldorf, Germany's Die Toten Hosen get many kudos for their ultimate dis track against their nation's most revered side, FC Bayern München, something that's tantamount to sacrilege. I know. As a supporter of Borussia Mönchengladbach myself, I've suffered the wrath of some not-so-enlightened fans. To the point where I was guilted into owning a Bayern jersey.
1. The Proclaimers - "The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues"
Twins Charlie and Craig Reid might be known for the rest of time for their international smash hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," and that's fine. That's a good song. As lifelong supporters of Edinburgh's Hibernian FC, the Reid twins are responsible for penning this upbeat number, a true fan's sentiment about traveling to see their team play at a rival's stadium. Ah... To know the beautiful sport is to know love.
Rod Stewart - "You're in My Heart"
No one loves footie more than Rod Stewart. Whether you agree and/or even like the old lothario, there's nothing quite like witnessing this guy, his backing band clothed in the colors of his beloved Celtic FC, the drum kit glistening with the team's crest as he saunters through this song, kicking Rod Stewart-signed Celtic FC balls into the crowd. When I saw him a couple of years ago, I almost went home with one. Thankfully a cooler mind prevailed that evening and I did not tackle the lady near me who caught it.
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