A Cheat Sheet to Survive FIFA World Cup 2018


A Cheat Sheet to Survive FIFA World Cup 2018

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

“Did you see that goal last night?”

If you don’t know it already, this a question that is going to haunt you every day for a whole month starting today, even if there isn’t a bone in your body that is prepared to give a shit about the FIFA Football World Cup 2018.

The Football World Cup is going to be the new Royal Wedding, which was the new IPL, which was the new Padmaavat, which was the new Game of Thrones. Everyone, everywhere, including your girlfriend and the boss is going to talk about it for the next month and will assail you with questions on which team you support and why. You will be tempted to roll your eyes at them, but sex and a promotion are at stake, so you will succumb. Here is our cheat sheet to surviving the FIFA season, through eight match scenarios that should last you through the 64 games.

1) When the referee blows the whistle to kick-off the game: This is standard procedure so don’t get overexcited already. Cautious excitement and a nervous confidence about the team you claim to be supporting is called for. Don’t get worked up yet. You’ll need all the energy you can muster for the big moments of the game.

What to say:

“The battle will be won in the mid-field.”

“I think <insert team from Asia/Africa> are going to be the dark horses.”

“Defences win you titles.”

“Spain and Germany are going the distance. Take it from me.”

“Who the fuck does this horrible commentary for Indian channels?”

What not to say:

“My prediction? 2-1 Chelsea”

“Nigeria vs Germany is NIG-GER… hahahahah”

“Why are they playing in the rain? Oh wait, that’s snow. Are the umpires blind?”

“I think Italy or Netherlands are going to win the Cup.”

2) When a player gets tackled real bad: If a player from the team you are pretending to support has been tackled, get up, fling a bag of chips around, and exhibit some outrage. Pepper it with some maa-behen ki gaalis. If your player is the one who has made the tackle, try to play it down like the media did with the Cobrapost sting. Ask rival fans to grow the hell up and stop being cry babies; it’s just a bunch of metal spikes hitting someone in the eye.

What to say:

“Fuck off, Sergio Ramos!”

“That’s a red. How is that not a red?”

“DIVEEEE! Deserves an Oscar for that performance.”

“He’s just trying to run down the clock.”

“Oh just get up, you drama queen”

What not to say:

“Is this American football?”

Modi ji would make a great defender, 56-inch chest, broad shoulders”

“Whoa… is that a Patanjali spray that the medical staff is using?”

3) When the referee awards a free kick just outside the box: If “your” team is awarded the free kick, lean in toward the TV a bit, with hope and expectation. You’ve had enough practise if you believed Modi and have been waiting for acche din. If the free kick is awarded against you, shout passionately at the goalkeeper in your TV, giving him directions to deal with this dead ball situation.

What to say:

“Remember that Roberto Carlos strike?”

“God, I miss David Beckham.”

“He’s going to hit the wall.”

“I have a feeling he’s going to score.”

“It’s too close to get the dip.”

What not to say:

“How many chances does he get at this?”

“Wow look at these stupid people, they are blocking their goalie’s view.”

“Does the referee run around with that foam spray in his back pocket the entire game?”

“The Mexico team is… hahahaha… building a… hahahaha… wall… hahahaha”

4) When the ref blows for half-time: If your team is leading at half-time, roast the hell out of rival fans and get in their face with top-class banter that you can pick up from others while watching the game. If your team is behind, play it low, and quickly disappear to get more food and beer. Repeat clichés like “It’s not over until it’s over” and “Second half abhi baaki hai mere dost”.

What to say:

“Solid half!”

“Only one team is playing to win it.”

“Game will get lively in the second half.”

“Team <name> needs a hairdryer from the manager.”

“Here we go, more shit from “experts” like John Abraham.”

What not to say:

“Is this a CEAT Tyres strategic timeout?”

“What influence do managers have? They just yell from the sideline.”

Shaolin Soccer was more fun to watch, tbh.”

If you’re on the losing side, either blame the manager and attitude of the players, or be bitter about the refereeing.

5) When the ref awards a penalty: If the penalty has been awarded to your team, jump off your seat, look toward heaven, and start praying, hold hands with your fellow fans and keep chanting something no one can understand. If the penalty is awarded against your team, just bow your head down in shame like you’ve been caught masturbating by your dad or start abusing the referee by channelling your inner Raghu Ram from Roadies. Have one eye on the screen, hoping against hope, for a miraculous save.

What to say:

“Clear penalty”


“Game over, ref has ruined it.”

“Big moment!”

“It’s a lottery now.”

What not to say:

“Hope he doesn’t disappoint his entire country by missing it now.”

“Wow that was a quick penalty decision. Something for the Indian judiciary to learn.”

“He’s seven feet. If he can’t stop it, he should just retire!”

6) When a goal is scored: If your team has scored, this is the time to take off your jersey (always buy a jersey to prove you are a true fan), high-five your fellow fans, and run around the room like a maniac. Shout “wohoo” and “come on” at people for no reason at all. If the goal has been scored against your team, start searching for Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak because it’s going to be awful.

What to say:


“Get in.”

“Shocker from the defender.”

Messi, you beauty.”

“Football, bloody hell.”


“What a clean strike.”

“Just park the bus now.”

“Jesus Christ look at those abs on Ronaldo.”

What not to say:

“Finally something after 70 minutes of this crap.”

“I don’t get the hype. It was from two yards out.”

“Why did he put the ball in his own net?”

7) When a player is judged offside: If your player is ruled offside, swear at the linesman a couple of times and move on. If it’s the opposition player that is ruled offside, appreciate the same linesman and credit him for having a blinder. Initiate conversation around refereeing standards in global competitions but don’t opine on it.

What to say:

“He’s offside by a mile!”

“That’s not offside.”

“Close call.”

“Linesman’s having a nightmare.”

“Watch your run, you idiot!”

What not to say:

“Oh so two refs just run up and down the line for 90 minutes… LMAO!”

“But technically, he’s on the leg side.”

“Okay <insert name of girl>, so let me explain the offside rule.”

8) When the referee blows for the full-time whistle: If your team has won, you will need all your energy to ham it up. Jump on your fellow fans and hold them down in a hug while shouting and punching your fist in the air like you’re the one who did all the hard work. Talk about what a great game of football it was. If you’re on the losing side, either blame the manager and attitude of the players, or be bitter about the refereeing. Talk about making a come back in the next game.

What to say:

“Important three points.”

“Great game of football, end-to-end stuff.”

“Player <name> hasn’t justified his price tag.”

“Need to build from this win. “

“Ref killed it.”

“You don’t win tournaments playing that kind of football.”

What not to say:

“This was nothing like Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal.

“It was quite boring and painful to watch if you ask me honestly.”

“We’re not watching the next game as well right? Oh, for fuck’s sake…”