187. World Cup 2014 (Part 1: The Basic Guide)

Lots of people want me to talk about the World Cup, so here we go! This is the first in a series of episodes about World Cup 2014. We start with a general look at the tournament, the groups and the teams. Consider this to be your basic guide to World Cup 2014. Right-click here to download this episode.

I have been preparing podcasts on other things lately but that must stop because nothing else can happen at this moment – why? Because it’s the World Cup. You may have noticed. I think there is a law going round that 75% of anything must be about the world cup. That’s conversations, television, radio, newspaper articles, commercials, food, pets, weather, geography, elephants, whatever. It has to be connected to the World Cup in some way. It’s just an unwritten global law. If I talk about anything else on the podcast at this time, there’s a danger it will go in one ear and out of the other, there is only The World Cup! So, it has to be dealt with. So LET’S DO THIS. Let’s talk about THE WORLD CUP!

Don’t think that I’m reluctant to talk about it. I’m not. I love football. I really love the World Cup – well, most of it. There are some things that I don’t like about it, and we’ll come to that stuff later. I’m not reluctant to talk about it by any means, it’s just that it’s a pretty massive topic and I’ve been wondering how to cover it properly. I’ve decided that I’ll just ramble on about it and do my best to make it accurate and well-informed. Please be aware that I’m an English-teacher-podcaster-comedian-musician but not necessarily an expert on the world of international football, but I will do my best to talk about football with the level of knowledge and expertise that you might expect from most ordinary people in the UK. I have a normal level of knowledge of this subject. So, it’s a bit like talking to a guy in a pub about it, or chatting to a guy who you know at work or school, just like the sort of conversation you’re likely to have in the real world. It’s pretty rare that you get to talk to a football journalist isn’t it? Yes it is, unless you’re married to one or something.

Other World Cup podcasts you could listen to:
The Guardian Football Weekly Podcast (Very in-depth and well-made, but not produced with learners of English in mind.)
Languagecaster.com Lots of stuff about learning English via football here, including some podcasts. Have a look.
British Council Premier Skills English. Loads of resources to learn English associated with football.
Luke’s English Podcast – English Premier League Football.
Future episodes of LEP. I expect I’ll be talking more about the World Cup in the next couple of weeks, and this episode might be separated into several parts. Also, I’ll make a podcast with your comments too.

If you’re not a football fan, well, in this episode you’ll have to just enjoy the words that are coming out of my mouth, without getting too carried away by the general subject matter. I will be looking at both sides in this podcast, and there will be some general criticism of football and the World Cup later on in this episode (or in part 2 if it’s necessary to divide it into two).

It’s one week into the competition. I’m going to talk about how it’s going so far. It’s hard to make any big statements at this moment, because it could all change. By the time you listen to it, everything could be different. I realise that. Anyway, let’s talk football.

Here’s what I’m going to deal with in this episode. I’m planning another one very soon in which I will respond to comments which some of you have left in my forum. You can read that forum thread by clicking here: Luke’s World Cup Comments Forum Thread.

1. What does the World Cup mean to me?
2. What’s the situation at this time? Who looks strong? What’s going on? The Basic Guide to World Cup 2014.
3. Focus on England
4. Changes to the rules
5. The dark side of the World Cup
6. A brief History of The World Cup

1. What does the World Cup mean to me?
It’s an international celebration. It’s great fun to get caught up in the excitement. It brings people together. It’s a time when we forget our differences and let problems get settled on the football pitch. It’s also nice to see all the hot girls from around the world on TV sometimes. On the more serious side, the World Cup is becoming more and more controversial, basically because of FIFA and the allegations of corruption, and the civil unrest in Brazil around their hosting of the competition. More on that later. Right now, let’s focus on the football, and leave the politics until later.
My world cup story.
Meeting Rai de Oliveira. (Name dropping) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ra%C3%AD

2. Who looks like they could win at this stage?
Let’s look at the groups. To help me here, I am quoting from a very useful article on Slate.com called “How to Fake Your Way Through the Tournament Like a Champ”, which is a kind of dummy’s guide to The World Cup 2014. If you don’t know a lot about the World Cup, this might help you. Since the article was written, some things have changed, and are still changing now as games are being played every day, but it will give you a good idea of the context at this stage.

Now listen to part 2 of this World Cup episode!