nazi weed pope

The strangest, saddest and funniest moments from the World Cup 2014

Relive the real highlights of the World Cup with our gongs for the fans, the fashion, the memes and much more

Last modified on Mon 2 Jul 2018 15.08 BST

The Golden Face Paint award for most ridiculous fan

Winner: Colombian Nazi Weed Pope

The Colombian Nazi weed pope. Photograph: Twitter Photograph: Twitter

We’ve all been there. You’re onside, clear shot on goal, then your eye catches a certain outfit in the crowd and you’re thinking: “Wait. What? Swastika, cannabis, the pope. What the hell do they have to do with each other?” Your brain is momentarily short-circuited by images of Hitler and Jesus sharing a bong and suddenly you’ve been clattered by a Japanese defender. The entire internet has been mystified by this fan’s symbolically dissonant get-up. Could it refer to Colombia’s indigenous Kuna people, who have a swastika on their flag? Or did he just think these were the official World Cup sponsors?

Runners-up: The lone Scot with a tam o’shanter and a saltire stood out, cheering England’s defeat along with the Uruguay fans (Alex Salmond says he has an alibi). On a national level, the Dutch made a virtue of their national colour with wigs of carrots, easyJet cabin crew livery and really bad sunburn. In the celebrity groupie category, Rihanna’s tweets for her “German boyz” were upstaged by Angela Merkel’s sweaty embrace of the national team. Steve Rose

The Golden Feet award for best celebration

Winner: Colombia’s team dance

In the absence of any samba football from Brazil, Colombia brought the world salsa football, and showed that hip-swivelling is as much a part of the national game as goal-scoring. Shakira’s work on the team’s set pieces clearly paid off. As well as the choreographed line-dancing moves (it’s a style of salsa known in Colombia as chichoke, apparently), there was a Colombian zombie walk (after Cuadrado’s penalty against Japan), plus solo performances on and off the pitch. They might not have won the World Cup, but the next Strictly is surely Pablo Armero’s for the taking.

Runners-up: Mexico’s manager Miguel Herrera flew into a furious, fist-pumping frenzy whenever his team scored, lashing out at bystanders real and imaginary. Ghanaian team-mates followed the strutting-cockerel steps of Asamoah Gyan for a Colombia-style shakedown. Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell put the ball under his shirt and sucked his thumb like, er, a pregnant baby (he’s a father-to-be, so it’s allowed). And the US’s John Brooks was so stunned to score against Ghana he had to go and lie down for a while – in the middle of the pitch. Daniel Sturridge’s amateur body-popping celebration deserves an honourable mention: it might have caught on if the world had seen it more than once. SR

The Golden Tongue award for best quote

Winner: Luis Suárez explains that thing that looked like a bite

Luis Suarez. Photograph: Ricardo Mazalan/AP Photograph: Ricardo Mazalan/AP

“After the impact … I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent. At that moment I hit my face against the player, leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.” – Luis Suárez to the Fifa disciplinary panel.

Runner-up: “One day we won’t have the World Cup, we will have inter-planetary contests.” – Fifa president Sepp Blatter. SR

The Golden Doge award for best meme

Winner: Luis Suárez biting everything

Suarez as Jaws. Photograph: Public Domain

Billions of jokes could have been made about Luis Suárez’s uncontrollable urge to bite people. The internet made all of them. Want to see what Suárez would look like on the Jaws poster? OK! Want to see a video called Suárez Bit My Finger? Great! Want to see Suárez as Hannibal Lector? Of course you do! He might have gone into the World Cup hoping to become the new Maradona, but this unstoppable outpouring of memery proves that Suárez has gone one better – he is the new Ed Miliband Eating a Bacon Sandwich.


Tim Howard saving sperm. Photograph: Public Domain

First US goalkeeper Tim Howard made 16 saves against Belgium. Then Twitter created the #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave hashtag. Then came the Photoshops. Howard stopping sperm reaching an ovum. Howard catching a meteorite and saving the dinosaurs from extinction. Howard saving Blockbuster from administration. Eventually Howard heard about this, and took to Twitter to chastise us for wasting our time. Stuart Heritage

The Golden Troll award for the best case of mistaken identity

Winner: Phil Neville (the other one)

Until three weeks ago, Suffolk radiator salesman Phil Neville had a quiet life. Sure, he occasionally get a bit of stick from his mates for sharing a name with a famous footballer, but that was about it. Then Phil Neville the famous footballer had to go and ruin it by being an inept World Cup commentator. Famous Neville’s stilted recital of impossibly dull statistics caused furious Twitter users to rush to the internet to bombard him with death threats, as is their inevitable wont. However, many of these ended up being directed at radiator salesman Neville, who offered to swap jobs with his famous namesake. But, really, who would buy a radiator from famous footballer Neville? Imagine how tedious the sales patter would be.

To all those hurling abuse at me for scoring an own goal, please re-direct your anger to @12MarceloV. Thank you

Runner-up: The other Marcelo. In the very first match of the World Cup, Brazilian defender Marcelo scored an own goal. His accident caused furious Twitter users to rush to the internet to bombard him with death threats, as is their inevitable wont. However, many of these ended up being directed at an Italian model called Marcello. First, model Marcello politely asked users to tweet their hatred to their intended target instead of him. They did not. Then, resigned, he asked when the World Cup would finish. “When you die,” came the answer. Stay classy, the internet. SH

The Golden Tie for best-dressed pundit

Winner: Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand. BBC Photograph: BBC

England’s footballers did a lot better on the pundits’ sofas than on the pitch, with Rio Ferdinand the breakout star of the tournament. Rio’s dad was a tailor, and it shows: you can tell he chooses his shirts because they actually fit him, rather than because of the name on the label. This man knows his way around a changing room and no mistake. His greatest moment of the tournament was the mid-blue, high-collared shirt he wore for the Netherlands v Costa Rica quarter-final, which more or less single-handedly kept us interested through extra time, but the fully buttoned-to-the-neck styling of his chambray number for Spain v Chile deserves a special mention.

Runner-up: There is only room for one runner-up here, and that’s Thierry Henry. Henry came flying out of the blocks in the fashion punditry stakes with the cardigan he wore for the England v Italy game. The man who once brought va-va-voom to the Premier League did the same for the BBC punditry lineup. A cardigan in Brazil? Now that’s cool. Jess Cartner-Morley

The Golden Mic award for daftest commentator gaffe

Winner: Steve Wilson v German history

Brazil’s 7-1 collapse at the hands of Germany is already the stuff of legend. But BBC commentator Steve Wilson may have got a bit carried away. Again and again throughout the match he referred to German fans singing Deutschland über alles at the top of their lungs. Which they weren’t, obviously, because that hasn’t been part of Germany’s national anthem since the end of the second world war.

Runner-up: Fifa’s new goalline technology was supposed to simplify things. If a goal was contested, officials would be able to get a definitive answer within one second. However, BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce took to the new technology just about as badly as any human could. “Oh, goodness me. They’ve changed their minds now. Does goalline technology work or doesn’t it?” he raged, as a replay showed the system working flawlessly. SH

The Golden Banana Skin award for best pratfall

Winner: Alejandro Sabella’s touchline tumble

This would have gone to England physio Gary Lewin, for tripping up on a water bottle during a goal celebration, except his fall looked excruciatingly painful. Could it instead go to Brazil’s Neymar, for arriving slightly too late for a goal celebration and falling over anyway? No, the gold medal must go to Argentina’s manager Alejandro Sabella, who appeared to almost faint during the match with Belgium. Funny on its own, even funnier with funny music playing beneath it.

The sight of Thomas Müller clattering to the ground in the run-up to his free-kick against Algeria is hard to fathom. On one hand, it might have been deliberate; a classic tricksy mind game designed to unsettle a side that had briefly threatened to halt Germany’s progress for good. But, then again, perhaps he just fell over. Perhaps Müller, the prolific World Cup-winning hero, just took a few steps and fell down on his face like a man trying to dash for a bus with his pants around his ankles. Fingers crossed it was the latter, obviously. SH

The Golden Onion award for best weeping

Winner: Brazil fans during that match

Weeping Brazilian fans. EPA Photograph: EPA

Gazza’s Italia 90 tears were but a trickling tributary compared with the Amazon of anguish unleashed by the shell-shocked hosts during their mortifying 7-1 loss to Germany. The floodgates had burst even before half time, presaging the tidal wave of lachrymosity that was to engulf the country. As a result, the press had approximately 200m images of crying Brazilian faces to choose from: players, politicians, fans with streaky face paint, families in favelas, children wearing glasses, old men with moustaches clutching replica trophies, jaguars in the rainforest. Millions.

Runners-up: Neymar takes the Golden Onion for individual weeping: during the national anthem; when Brazil won; when Brazil lost; when he was injured; when he spoke about being injured. He was leakier than his team’s defence. Colombia’s crestfallen James Rodríguez sobbed like a baby, but took defeat nobly: “Men can also cry but I can return to my country happy,” he said. The Ivory Coast’s Serey Die appeared to be genuinely grief-stricken during the national anthem before the Colombia match, sparking rumours that his father had died. He had – 10 years ago. And Arjen Robben touchingly went over to console his crying son after Holland’s defeat. Or was the kid faking it for the ref? SR

The Golden Comb award for best hair

Winner: Kyle Beckerman

Kyle Beckerman. Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA Photograph: GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO/EPA

This was the World Cup when the Americans finally got football. And, good hair being crucial to the making of a modern footballing icon, finding a well-coiffured Team USA player was essential. Step forward Kyle Beckerman, the midfielder with the long dreads, photogenically engineered to help sports photographers catch the perfect action shot. The fact that Beckerman’s hair is the polar opposite of the all-American “jock” aesthetic only enhances football’s – sorry, soccer’s – status as the sport the cool kids watch.

Runners-up: Brazil can be proud of their record here: Neymar’s extraordinary frosted tips, which pay homage to David Beckham in his Spice Boy days while adding a punk-hedgehog attitude all of their own, were a sad early loss to the tournament. David Luiz’s characterisation as the lionheart/Aslan of the world cup would never have worked without that halo of fuzz. Also, special mention to Andrea Pirlo’s beard, which is in a class of its own. JCM

The Golden Bandage award for best survivor

Winner: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photograph: Paulo Whita Photograph: PAULO WHITAKER/REUTERS

If you saw a photograph of Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger taken on Sunday night, you wouldn’t think he’d just played in a World Cup final. You’d think he’d just performed a one-man am-dram re-enactment of the Saving Private Ryan trailer. Exhausted, covered in dirt and with blood streaming down his face, Schweinsteiger looked as if he’d endured more in 120 minutes than most men have in a lifetime. But he made it, and that’s no surprise. After all, you don’t grow up with a surname that means “Pig-climber” without developing a thick skin.

Runner-up: This World Cup saw a renewed call for Fifa to improve its treatment of players with concussion, and much of that is down to the almighty whack to the temple that Álvaro Pereira received when Raheem Sterling clattered into him during the match between England and Uruguay. Pereira was knocked out by the collision, but forced himself up a minute later to stagger around, punch-drunk, for the rest of the match. One day a film will be made about Pereira’s astonishing grit and determination. It will be called Gross Medical Irresponsibility: The Motion Picture. SH

Relive the real highlights of the World Cup with our gongs for the fans, the fashion, the memes and much more

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