Soccer fans will soon see one victorious team hoist the World Cup Trophy. And the individual player who scores the most goals in the tournament will earn the cherished Golden Boot. But many are clamoring to know which players FIFA will name to its prestigious 2010 World Cup All-Hair Team.
Since FIFA doesn’t actually select such a team, I decided to step in and embrace this vital task myself. I enlisted an Executive Selection Commission, consisting of Fabio, Vidal Sassoon, Nelson Mandela, David Beckham, Reggie Bush, and the folliclely-challenged FIFA President Sepp Blatter. In making our determinations, we employed the following three criteria:
• The Beyond Hair Factor – Excellent hair isn’t always enough. You also need to get some actual playing time and exhibit better-than-average play on the pitch.
• The Practicality Factor – Those who sacrifice vision at the expense of style are meant to be chastised, not valorized.
• The Hollywood-Be-Damned Factor – Believe it or not, there is such a thing as being too pretty. If it’s obvious you’re spending more time on your hair than David Villa on his penalty kicks, you’re trying to hard to make the squad.
Without further ado, here are our selections!
Diego Maradona (Argentina) – Maradona is doing his damndest to keep the mullet alive! And the salt-and-pepper Saddam Hussein-esque beard put him over the top in the eyes of the WCAHT Selection Commission. This photograph captures the exuberant manager after he received word he was a first-team selection.
David “Calamity” James (England) – The eco-conscious keeper gets extra points for grooming his coiffure with fair-trade grape-seed oil.
Tulio Tanaka (Japan) – Tanaka has a little something for every hair aficionado. Short-cropped top for aerodynamic purposes? Check. Savory mullet for a lively nightlife? Check. Devilish goatee to ward off pretty-boy allegations? Check.
Carles Puyol (Spain) – Vidal Sassoon, the world’s most high-profile hairdresser, put it this way: “Fluffy, curly, full-bodied with more than a touch of sweat, this hombre has it all. I read somewhere he’s a decent defender, too.” Above is Puyol holding his first-team selection trophy outside his hotel in Durban.
Fabio Coentrao (Portugal) – The man’s name is Fabio, which automatically vaults him into the “serious consideration” category. The frosted locks and effortless, windblown look hits the Iberian bulls-eye. Plus, this guy can play.
Rigobert Song (Cameroon) – No explanation required. The only unanimous first-team selection.
Walter Martinez (Honduras) – Martinez was an indefatigable terrier on the pitch, all the while sporting more ROY G BIV in his hair than most flags at a UN climate-change convention.
Michael Bradley (United States) – Sonuva coach! Known affectionately as “Mini-B,” Bradley played with vim in this World Cup. His goal against Slovenia was nothing short of sublime. Environmental economist Kristen Sheeran, who nominated him for consideration, wrote, “His shiny round head is impressive, deliberate, and aerodynamic. It contributes to his speed and his heading capabilities. Form and function combined.” Speaking of function, perhaps the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could rent out Mini-B’s head and send it into space where it could deflect the sun’s rays away from Earth, thereby solving global warming. Cha-ching!
Siphiwe Tshabalala (South Africa) – The home team had a lot to be proud of in this World Cup, not the least of which is Siphiwe Tshabalala’s hair. Eat your heart out, Medusa! The fact he uncorked a left-footed scorcher in the opening match against Mexico helped him land a spot on the first team.
Keisuke Honda (Japan) – People can’t keep their fingers out of his hair (see photo as evidence). And Japanese haiku master Takayuki Suzuki penned this pithy ditty about Honda’s coiffure in honor of his selection:
This man can play ball
And his golden hair’s simply
Diego Forlan (Uruguay) – In his controversial autobiography, Dick Clark revealed that KC and the Sunshine Band wrote their most famous tune (“That’s the Way (Uh-Huh Uh-Huh) I Like It”) after seeing Diego Forlan weave a sparkly tapestry of on-field magic. Ok, fine, the song came out in 1975 and Forlan was born in 1979, but the song and his hair chime like bells and medals. Moving beyond his hair (if you find that possible), Forlan’s vying for the Best Player in World Cup.
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) – Drogba puts the “On!” in “Skinny Little Ponytail!” Oh, and he’s a brilliant finisher who played the entire tournament with a broken arm. The fact that in 2007 he used his football acumen as a platform to help reconcile political factions in the Ivory Coast made him an indisputable selection.
Bacary Sagna (France) – Pathetic team. Sweet do.
Georgios Samaras (Greece) – Samaras came to South Africa with hair worthy of a Cavafy love poem. However, some on the Selection Commission alleged he sacrificed vision for glamour, while others noted the fact that his hairdo withstood 30 mile-an-hour winds without so much as a ruffle, which indicates an over-reliance on “product,” an obvious no-no that undercut his WCAHT chances.
Duda (Portugal) – If the selection committee could have secured verification from FIFA that the hair wave atop his head isn’t El Cowlick Grande, he would have had a shot at the squad. Dude, so close!
Josh Kennedy (Australia) – While the length was there, at the end of the day, the Commission decided his hair is just a little too pretty—with a strategic mussing of the coif, he has the potential make the first team in 2014.
Jeremy Toulalan (France) – While the French Silver Fox exhibited first-team potential, he failed to make the most of his stylish, premature gray hair. When you got it, flaunt it, mon ami!
Alexis Sanchez (Chile) – A faux-hawker was a necessity for the All-Hair squad and in this World Cup few deserve accolades as much as Sanchez – his on-field play was consistently brilliant.
Faouzi Chaouchi (Algeria) – Bold effort, with shaved sides and platinum blonde top—yes!
Andres Guardado (Mexico) – Guardado’s frazzled fluffitude defies gravity even when tethered to his head with a thick, black hairband—no small feat of physics. He demonstrated a willingness to take risks both on the field and above the hairline. A mi me gusta, amigo!
Jules Boykoff has written articles on soccer and politics for The Guardian, The Nation, CounterPunch, and other outlets. He played professional soccer for many years and represented the US Olympic Soccer Team in international competition. He is currently an associate professor of political science at Pacific University in Oregon.