And of course give up all training or playing for five weeks before their first game, perhaps even have some major surgery, spend some time in a wheelchair, like Luis Suárez.
I am honestly and truly now coming to the conclusion that England did astonishingly well. In fact, they overachieved.
There is a set way to behave. Team shirts and face paint have become de rigueur, while Mexican waves now interrupt the view of anybody trying to watch the football with irritating regularity.
The World Cup is just the latest political football to be kicked by the Front National’s Marine Le Pen, who suggested that “You are either French or Algerian”.
There is no glory in setting out to cause injury to another human being.
Simon Schama bissects a tale of two halves: Brazil’s nail-biting victory over Chile.
With England sometimes, you just can’t win.
My politics may place me firmly on the left of Labour, but confess to owning an MCC tie and people start looking at you in a whole new light.
Hunter Davies’s The Fan column.
... and it's not foreign players in the Premier League.
World leaders have often found, to their cost, that using football as a political emblem isn’t always as successful as they might hope.
The Forbidden Game uses golf – a game that most in the country probably still know nothing about – to gain a rare insight into ordinary Chinese lives.
Despite losing to Uruguay, this England team is one for the future, and viewed as such there is no real disgrace in such an elimination from a tough group.
Everything a women’s football team does is taken to represent the “quality” of the sport as a whole, while male players are allowed to be judged as individuals. We have to put an end to this sexism.
A successful World Cup could create a mood of general contentment that might yet carry Rousseff to an election victory later this year.
Back in the 1990s, I used to pretend I liked football. Now I realise I had been taken in by the Football Mystique.
The world isn’t made of atoms, it’s made of stories. The World Cup is an arena in which narratives are fulfilled. Heroes, villains, scapegoats, underdogs, triumphs, near-misses and tragedies, all are played out on a global stage, a pagan drama in a secular age.
Italy's star players prevailed, but Roy Hodgson's young team made a splash in their first game.
Let’s take a minute to remember the perennial villains of the game.
In Sheffield, 96-year-old Tanya Schmoller will be cheering on Uruguay. After all, she attended the first ever World Cup finals, held in Uruguay in 1930.
Football is a supreme instrument of soft power and can unite people as little else can. But allegations of Fifa corruption have tarnished the image of the beautiful game. Can anything be done to save it?
Back then when critics pointed out that England had been overtaken by hungrier and more progressive teams, a stock reply was ready: “But we’re English and we’ve always done it this way.”
Tennis has not become ugly. It has got more beautiful. Professionalisation did not ruin its balletic strand; it deepened it. The ultimate athletes turned out to be lighter, leaner and more mobile.
Sport’s love affair with the myth of thwarted victory.
Within sport, women athletes are finally gaining the professional recognition they deserve. Yet the media continues to assume that “the England team” is shorthand for “the men’s team”.
Last month’s rush to exonerate the Premier League’s CEO, Richard Scudamore, who had been accused of sexism, was just another example of the game’s eagerness to sweep dirty linen under the carpet.
The continued endorsement of Premier League B teams being given access to Football League competitions has led to an open rebellion by teams and their owners against the executives who are supposed to represent their interests.
Brazil tends to eclipse the very land whose colonial undertakings shaped it and gave birth to it – Portugal.
Wimbledon Stadium is the last of the 33 dog-racing tracks in London. Now that the owners want to sell, the institution that is the English Greyhound Derby may be about to leave the capital for good.
They may earn millions and drive Maseratis but today’s footballers are still described using old working-class terminology. It’s the last link with the game’s roots.