World Cup 2018: A Football Virgin’s Guide

by Olivia Cox July 2
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Full disclosure, FUBAR Radio listeners: I am not a football fan. Well I was. Until that penalty shoot-out in the 2006 World Cup final (we watched Rooneys infamous stamp from Ed’s Diner on the King’s Road with milkshakes and cheesy chips. Not sure I was legally old enough to drink. Or maybe that’s just how cool we were…) And then I lost interest.

Until the last couple of weeks, when our guys touched down in Russia and began a scoring streak so major I’ve got sucked back in – just call me the fair weather fan. Trouble is, my limited knowledge was causing issues. I could just about hold my own in a top line kind of way, but scratch the surface and my fickle support got hung out for all to see. So I did some research. And here are the basics you need to know to sound like you know what you’re talking about.

VAR – Video Assistant Referee – Around since 2010 but in play during a major international tournament for the first time during the World Cup 2018. Essentially, the VAR is an assistant referee that monitors the game via video. VAR can challenge the on-pitch ref’s decision, and the on-pitch ref can request clarification from the VAR. Players can also request VAR input to challenge the on-pitch ref’s decision, particularly if they think the on-pitch ref missed something. Like a super-dramatic dive, presumably.

Golden Ball – An award presented to the best player at each FIFA World Cup finals. A shortlist drawn up by the FIFA technical committee and the winner is voted for by representatives of the media. Lionel Messi won at the last world cup in 2014 (even though Argentina lost to Germany), and was amongst contenders for this year alongside Cristiano Ronaldo Iran’s Mo Salah. Obviously since neither Portugal nor Argentina remain in the competition the list has shrunk somewhat.

Golden Boot – Similar principle to above, but this one is specifically for the player who scores the most goals. Ronaldo and Harry Kane were both gunning for this with their hat-trick each during the group games.


Giant killing – The phrase coined to describe an underdog’s defeat of traditionally stronger football teams. So in this instance, giants such as Spain, Portugal and Germany are out.

Goal Area – The rectangular area in front of the goal. It is also known as the 6-yard box because of its dimensions.

New red card rule – It used to be that a foul that denies a goal-scoring opportunity meant a red card plus penalty, but this rule has not been relaxed. So long as defender is attempting to play the ball when he or she commits a foul that denies a goalscoring opportunity in the penalty box, he or she can’t be punished with both a penalty and a red card. Instead, it’s a penalty and yellow. So the harshest punishment is a yellow card plus a penalty, or a red card and no penalty. If a

For more insights, world cup chat and general footie (the word still makes me cringe) gossip, tune in to Pitch Talk on Tuesday 4-5pm on Fubar Radio.

Also, have you ever noticed that when Sweden play Denmark, the first three letters you see on the score line make up ‘Sweden’ (SWE v DEN). Mind f*ck if ever I saw one. That said, the boy’s reaction was priceless: “wow, do you think they did that on purpose?” Who would that be then?!


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