Tokyo – As World Cup fever mounts in Brazil, the unveiling of slogans to be splashed on team buses has gone down like a flat tyre.
Golden opportunities to steal a march in the pre-tournament mind games flew wildly off target in a flurry of speculative efforts ranging from the confusing to the blindingly obvious.
Belgium called the slogan chosen for its bus “stupid”. And the final Flemish version has a mistake.
“Fifa proposed five slogans. We rejected them all because we found them too stupid,” said Belgium Football Federation spokesman Stefan Van Loock.
Fifa inally imposed Expect The Impossible for Belgium’s bus, but the Flemish version says “Verwacht je aan het onmogelijke!” instead of “Verwacht het onmogelijke.” The grammar was impossible.
Australia were also unhappy with the cheesy “Socceroos: hopping our way into history!”
Embarrassed Aussie fans poured scorn on the slogan on social media, with one offering a wry alternative for the side of team bus: “We are going to park this in front of our goal.”
The Australian Football Federation also distanced itself from the work of art.
Argentina are among the favourites to lift the trophy for a third time – but their slogan: “Not just a team, we are a country” is a clear mis-kick, applying as it does, technically, to all 32 nations in the competition.
Slogans unveiled by Fifa for other teams after a competition also “parked the bus” instead of stepping on the gas. Germany was left with: “One nation, one team, one dream!”
England players may not be overjoyed by theirs: “The dream of one team, the heartbeat of millions!!” it runs, in what feels like a back-pass for a team hoping to end about 50 years of football pain.
Hosts Brazil have arguably the cheekiest shimmy. The slogan for the five-times World Cup winners declares: “Brace yourselves! The 6th is coming!”
Russia pick up a yellow card, surely, for the slogan “No one can catch us”, which might apply better to competitors in a cycle race.
Never far from controversy at a World Cup, the Netherlands ignore the burden of proof by insisting “Real men wear orange”, while Greece philosophically claims: “Heroes play like Greeks.”
France's slogan “Impossible is not a French word” threatened linguist outrage, because, actually, it is.
Cameroon, meanwhile, go perhaps too far the other way, with the utterly indisputable logic that is: “A lion remains a lion.”
Japan hark back to the past, and appear to be threatening to overrun a castle rather than play football, with the worrisome-sounding call-to-arms: “Samurai, the time has come to fight!”
South Korea, by contrast, look to have the sun-loungers out before a ball has even been kicked, urging their team to: “Enjoy it, Reds!”
Not so for plucky Costa Rica, who demonstrate an admirable work ethic with an essay – “My passion is football, my strength is my people, my pride is Costa Rica” – which could cost a bit in paint.
Italy, meanwhile, offer the slightly baffling “Let’’ paint the Fifa World Cup dream blue.”
While the Italians have their overalls on, Chile appear to be in conga-mode already with the splendid “Chi Chi Chi!, Le Le Le! Go Chile” – too excited, even, for a final exclamation mark. – Sapa-AFP