As exciting as it can get

As exciting as it can get

The ongoing World Cup has produced some great goals, great matches and super story lines, unlike the 2010 edition which was a dull affair. But it more than made up with several off-field issues. 

France, who have always known to spice things up a notch or two, rebelled like school kids as doppleganger of inspector Jacques Clouseau, Raymond Domenech, tried to throw the book at Nicholas Anelka for staying true to his nickname, L' enfant terrible. 

The French Football Federation sent Anelka home, the remaining players resorted to strikes, rows and recriminations - basically anything apart from playing football. Which was fair enough as they were still playing under a manager who, minutes after leading France out of the group stages of the 2008 Euros, proposed to his girlfriend... on live television. 

It was surreal to watch on as France was in open rebellion. Paris was seething while the rest of the world were spell-checking 'schadenfreude' on MS Word. 

The World Cup also had a running theme of administrators or models wanting to strip. Strange are the ways of jingoism. 

Many neutrals were praying for Argentina's ouster from the tournament. Even Argentina fans. Reason? Diego Maradona, permanent messiah and then coach, had made a pre-tournament promise of running through the streets of Buenos Aires.... naked. Maradona was a once-in-a-lifetime talent but the prospect of seeing his sagging junk on the streets of Argentina's capital surely would have found no takers. 

But the one who completely stole Maradona's thunder was little known Paraguayan lass Larissa Riquelme. Having first been photographed with her phone placed between her breasts during a match against Slovakia, Larissa promised to run naked (with the body paint of Paraguay's flag) through Asuncion if they won the Cup, or if they even made the semis. 

Now, the broadcasters love a good looking woman on the stands and given Larissa was voluptuous, she quickly became the darling of the Fourth Estate. The Spanish sports daily, Marca, declared her as the 'World Cup's girlfriend,' and she quickly became the most searched person on the internet. 

Paraguay, however, did not reach the semis. But Larissa did bare it all anyway - twice. And of course like every other thing, she also inspired a sub-culture where women wanted to strip and run 'for their country' if the said country won anything. The most famous of her imitations were carried off by Poonam Pandey after India won the 2011 Cricket World Cup. 

Thankfully it's all been about the football in this World Cup so far. Just the way it should be.