soccer

Shopping for sadness: Soccer-themed merch going cheap following Japan’s early World Cup loss

Just a few weeks ago, as the World Cup got underway, expectations were running high for Japan’s national soccer team, which played impressively on its way to making the Group of 16 four years ago in South Africa. Seemingly the whole country was pumped up, with both long-time soccer nuts and people who ordinarily have little interest in sports getting behind the men in blue.

Sadly, though, Japan’s shot in Brazil came to a close after just three games, with its best outing being a 0-0 draw with Greece. It’s safe to say fans are disappointed, and there’s another group of people that acutely shares their pain: retailers stuck with boxes of unsold Japanese soccer team merchandise.

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Greece national football team players turn down individual bonuses for something else

The World Cup is not just a battle between nations to determine who is the strongest in the world. It is also a momentous celebration of international exchange and an opportunity for citizens of the world to display their national pride. Heart-wrenching and heartwarming stories alike are born from the event, which remain in people’s minds long after the final score has been forgotten. Some of the most memorable stories from the tournament don’t even take place on the pitch during gameplay; rather, they materialize in other acts of chivalry off the field.

Although Greece was defeated by Costa Rica on Sunday, Greek citizens couldn’t have been prouder to see their national team advance to the Round of 16 for the first time ever. The Greek athletes also seemed content just having served as representatives for their home country, as they incredibly refused individual monetary bonuses and instead asked for a joint venture that should further unite them in spirit with their fellow countrymen.

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Uruguay midfielder harnesses the power of DBZ to protect his shins

While the soccer-watching world has been keeping an eye on Uruguay forward Luis Suárez, whose hunger for victory has earned him a nine match, four month suspension, teammate Walter Gargano has been dazzling the otakusphere in other ways. Namely, the proud display of his Dragon Ball Z shinguards.

Midfielder Gargano posted a photo to his Instagram account two days ago, prompting a flurry of excited reactions to his equipment choice.

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Otsukare-sama deshita: A look back at Team Japan’s time at the World Cup

It’s over. With their 1-4 defeat against Colombia, Team Japan is officially out of the World Cup tournament after just three matches. The boys in blue put up a good fight, but arguably left a lot on the pitch in Group C, in what many say was Japan’s best chance to make a big impact on the world stage. But despite the disappointing losses (and one unbelievable tie), there were some truly great moments that came out of the tournament for Samurai Blue. So before we all move on and choose a different team to support, let us take a moment to look back at the matches, the players, and those crazy fans who came together to root on NIPPON!

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Post World Cup cheer up: Shinji Kagawa and Hiroshi Kiyotake take on 55 kids at once

For anyone who’s still struggling to accept Japan’s elimination from the World Cup at the group stage, we’ve got a little video clip here to brighten your mood. While it was originally broadcast on New Year’s Eve half a year ago, it features two of Japan’s top football athletes finding themselves in an amusing situation with none of the stress from the World Cup.

How would you like to see international stars Shinji Kagawa and Hiroshi Kiyotake taking on 55 elementary school kids at once?

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Ivory Coast’s grass-eating goalie amuses Japanese fans after elimination

After Japan’s hopes of advancing in the World Cup were dashed by a 1-4 defeat to Colombia, Japanese football fans have been looking for something to get them smiling again. And Ivory Coast’s goalie provided just the opportunity.

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Colombia beats Japan, still picks up a few Japanese supporters for its inspiring sportsmanship

The international nature of professional soccer makes for some uniquely compelling individual matchups at the World Cup. Since the event is only held once every four years, during the time between tournaments the members of each country’s national teams go back to playing for their respective, privately owned clubs.

It’s easy to imagine how this could make things awkward for a player who has a club teammate who’s on the roster of a different national team. One day you’re doing everything you can to beat him at the World Cup, but a few weeks later, you’re going to have to go back to working together, no matter how bitterly contested your match in Brazil was.

Sometimes, though, the opposite happens, and these personal connections bring a little extra sportsmanship to the World Cup, like what happened between Japanese defender Yuto Nagatomo and Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin.

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Columbia Records Japan changing name in support of national team’s game against Colombia

Things aren’t looking too good for Japan’s soccer team as it goes into its third and final game of group play at the World Cup. After a heartbreaking loss in its opener against Ivory Coast, and then a contest with Greece in which neither team’s shots could find the net, it’s do-or-die time for Japan, which is going to need quite a bit of help, and possibly luck, to advance to the Round of 16.

But all of the myriad tie-breakers Japan needs to go its way won’t mean anything if it can’t defeat group powerhouse Colombia, which currently has a 2-0 record. With all of Japan hoping for a victory over the South American nation, Team Japan is getting a little bit of extra moral support as the Japanese arm of Columbia Records is changing its name to help cheer on its local sports heroes.

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Japan national football star to voice character in upcoming Pokémon film

Atsuto Uchida, a defender on Japan’s national football team currently playing in Brazil, is making his voice acting debut in the latest Pokémon theatrical film set to premiere next month. 

The producers of the Pokémon movies are well-known for inviting celebrities to voice supporting characters in the annual films, but this year marks the first time that an athlete will lend his voice to the production. Uchida himself has been a fan of Pokémon since he was a child, and his involvement in the movie will hopefully add even more excitement to the World Cup fervor already taking over Japan.

Read on to learn more about Uchida’s role in the upcoming film!

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World Cup players swap shorts after match

The World Cup, an event that brings thousands of people from all over the world together, has some beautiful moments – Neymar, of Team Brazil (who many are calling “the face of the World Cup”) busting into tears of pride at the climax of his nation’s anthem, Japanese fans cleaning their area after a losing game, and the always heartwarming tradition of exchanging jerseys after the match – to name a few.

But we’re not quite sure what to make of Ivan Rakitic of Croatia and Stephane M’Bia of Cameroon exchanging shorts after Wednesday night’s match. But we suppose we can count this as another one of those “beautiful moments.” After all, nothing says “good game, mate” like having your opponent’s ball sweat up in your nether regions. (Soccer ball sweat, you pervs!)

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Despite the draw with Greece, Japan’s World Cup team still has a glimmer of hope

Japan has had a bit of a rough start at the 2014 World Cup. After losing to 2-1 against the Ivory Coast, the team came back strong against Greece and got an amazing…0-0 tie. Well, it’s better than losing right?

Though you may be ready to throw in the towel for the Japanese soccer team, we’re here to tell you that things aren’t quite as bleak as they may seem. While having lost the first game of the tournament certainly isn’t a good sign, there are teams who’ve made it to the next round in similar circumstances!

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Can these Japanese kitties accurately predict the advancing teams of the World Cup?

You may remember that octopus named Paul whose accurate series of “predictions” during the 2010 World Cup about Germany’s matches and Spain’s victory shot him to worldwide fame.

Well move over, Paul, because you’ve got two new furry rivals! Stepping up to the challenge in 2014 are Munchkin kitties Kikunosuke and Rikimaru. Their owner had them “predict” which two teams from each of the initial groups A through H would proceed to the rest of the tournament. Japanese fans would be well-advised to listen to the cats, since Japan was picked to advance from group C.

Keep reading to find out which sixteen teams will advance, at least according to the cats!

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Japanese fans are waving around blue plastic garbage bags at today’s World Cup match…

Every country has their fair share of crazy fans dressed in garb ranging from carrot headdresses to scarves with the power of 1000% elephants, but the Japanese supporters are by far our all-around favorite. During their first match against Côte d’Ivoire last Saturday, they showed up with plenty of white paint on their faces and bowling pins on their heads. With Japan’s second match currently underway, we couldn’t help but notice a strange new addition to the cheer gear of Samurai Blue supporters; an item we’ve all seen before being used for its intended purpose.

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Women in China say the World Cup makes them sad, protest by removing their “World Cups” in public

Men of the world, have you been prioritizing World Cup matches over your wives and girlfriends recently?

Earlier this month in China, a group of women got together and took off their “soccer balls” in order to cheer up their fellow female counterparts who have been neglected by their husbands and boyfriends. We have no idea if that makes any sense, but here’s how it looks!

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Step aside, Air Bud! Purin the Super Beagle is here to score some bea-goals!【Video】

There are two great things to look forward to in February in the US. The first is the Super Bowl; the second is definitely the “Puppy Bowl,” an American football game “played” exclusively by puppies. Who doesn’t like watching a bunch of extremely cute canines trying to move toys to their opponents’ end zone?

With over 13.5 million viewers in 2014, it only makes sense that the FIFA World Cup should have its own dog-based representation of the game. They could even call it the “Canine Cup”. If that ever does happen, countries will be scrambling to find their own representatives to put their country at number one! Lucky for Japan, they already have their own soccer-playing dog superstar who is ready to take the field!

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Kanji fail – Japanese World Cup fans notice Greek player’s strange tattoo

It must be tough playing in the World Cup. Not only are you representing your entire country, but every mistake you make is seen by millions of people all over the world. Poor Igor Akinfeev, the Russian goalkeeper who let a straightforward shot from Korea’s Lee Keun-ho roll up and over his head and into the goal. It was enough to make anyone want to curl up into a ball and die, and Igor’s mortified face was painful to watch, inspiring thousands of Tweets proclaiming, “Yikes!”

Japanese netizens have taken notice of another footballer faux paus, this time in the form of an unfortunate tattoo. We’ve seen it before – misinformed fans of body modification adding “Chicken Noodle Soup or “casket maker” in exotic scrawl, and Team Greece representative, Theofanis “Fanis” Gekas, has added to the list of tattoos that have piqued the interest of Japanese netizens.

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Japanese soccer fans celebrate the World Cup with Samurai Blue curry

Now that the World Cup is well and truly underway, fans in Japan have found themselves in the full-blown throes of soccer fever. While some would remedy the malady with a set of earplugs and a good lie-down, others look to the food world, with World Cup menus popping up all over the country offering all sorts of surprises. One place in Osaka has put together a creative curry and cocktail set that represents the Japanese soccer team, Samurai Blue, and the host country of Brazil. Can you see the two countries in the image above?

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“The beer is my friend”: Watch the World Cup in style at this Captain Tsubasa Cafe

The World Cup is underway and Japan’s city streets are full of excitable-looking young people wearing blue soccer jerseys (sorry Dad, I mean “football shirts”). If you’re looking for somewhere in Tokyo to watch the game that’s a bit different – somewhere, for example, that’s got soccer-manga merchandise, weird themed food, and blue drinks that aren’t just beer with blue food-colouring in them – we’ve got just the place for you! When the staff at our Japanese sister site heard that a pop-up Captain Tsubasa Cafe was opening in Tokyo’s Ueno district, they couldn’t resist heading down there to take a look!

Captain Tsubasa, for the uninitiated, is a soccer manga (sometimes called Flash Kicker in English) created by Yōichi Takahashi in 1981. As is typical with popular Japanese manga series, Tsubasa and his team have since spread their wings into anime, video games, spin-off merch… and now this sports bar!

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Did Portuguese soccer player flip off referee, or was he just looking for gold?

When someone has complete authority over you, the temptation to assert yourself, even in secret, can be overwhelming. A kid gets lectured by his parents, then sighs and says, “Yeah, whatever,” as soon as they’re out of earshot. A student spends his time in detention writing curse words on the underside of his desk.

Or, a professional soccer player seemingly flips off the referee while his back is turned.

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The craziest fans at the World Cup

When it comes to sports passion nothing brings out the crazy in fans more than international competitions.Now mix that with the biggest tournament for the world’s most popular sport and we end up with a show in the stands at the World Cup that is nearly as entertaining as the matches being played.

Let’s take a look at some of the fans with the craziest costumes and attire from the first six days of the World Cup.

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