The not-at-all-soccer-related World Cup

Vox brings you the high drama of a World Cup decided by national animals

The World Cup. The world’s most popular sport on the world’s biggest stage. Millions upon millions of people watch it.

And that, my friends, is why we’re about to absolutely ruin it with a ridiculous scenario that wound up being much more anticlimactic than expected.

Netherlands is putting a beatdown on Spain as I write this, and it is all kinds of fantastic. But what would happen if instead of 11 world-class athletes (and subs, of course), Spain and Netherlands pitted their national animals against each other in a battle to the death?

That’s where we’re going with this. And this is what it will look like.

This will be a thing of beauty.

First comes group play, which takes on a whole different look when birds and horses and mythical beings start getting into the fray. We’ll break down each pool the same way they do in the Cup, with the first and second teams from each group advancing to the knockout stage.

First up, Group A:















This was an avian-heavy group, but an easy one to decide. Both the marten and macaw are tiny little guys, and as such, they have no chance against an eagle. Meanwhile, I don’t buy into the whole “but they can fly, so they have such an advantage against ground animals” bit. Cameroon’s lion lands one swipe, and all these birds are done for.














The choices are clear once again in this battle of extremely stereotypical national mammals. Netherlands opted to bring out a dairy cow, which was absurd, and a matador it was not. Meanwhile, kangaroos are awesome, and there is no way it would lose to a diminutive species of deer. On to the next one.














This is the “Group of Death.” This pool is just ridiculous. You have a fire-breathing bird that can revive itself and an elephant, two behemoths, and … a fish and condor. OK, so maybe it’s not that strong. But this is entirely unfair to the elephant. He or she would be a favorite in any other group. In this one, it gets roasted.














Italy went all unoriginal on us, and Uruguay chose something I can’t pronounce. This group is weak enough that a deer advances after a very disappointing effort from England.















I kid you not. Switzerland does not have a national animal. Typical to its nature of avoiding conflict, the country chose to bring its national flower to this competition. It is summarily eaten by all three of the other competitors, and again we have a freakin’ deer go on to the knockout stage.














Iran brought the big guns by sending not only a crocodile, but one who apparently has a criminal background. Bosnia decided on a dog. It did not go well.















Finally, ‘Merica gets its shot. This is, by far, the most competitive pool. There are three species of eagle vying for the No. 2 spot because, again, I’m not a fan of the whole swoop-and-scratch strategy. Ghana’s brand of eagle is too typical, and Germany’s is smaller than some species. U-S-A! U-S-A!














Must not make lions and tigers and bears joke. Must not make lions and tigers and bears joke. Must not make lions and tigers and bears joke.

Alright, so we have two teams from each pool, and the knockout round is all set. As in the normal Cup, 1A plays 2B, 1C plays 2D and so on down the bracket. Greece, with its totally unfair choice of a fiery death bird, is the heavy favorite. Let’s see how this plays out.


It’s the upset of the century! What a match! What a result!

Actually, we’re going with the premise that FIFA somehow managed to be competent for a short while and realized that the use of a creature that doesn’t even exist was grounds for disqualification. However, it took them until the final to realize this, and rather than shed more mammalian/reptilian/fish/fantasy creature blood, soccer’s governing body let the Greeks claim second. The crocodilian felon took third, and every animal that made it out of the first round was at least 750 pounds on average (except the phoenix, because who knows what the hell those weigh).


Want to see more of this? Have a fun idea for a not-at-all-soccer-related World Cup battle? Send them our way, and we’ll come up with the results — entirely based on numbers and science and stuff, of course.