Culture
Football
#SmiteTheWorld: Siberian Exile, Power Tattoos, And A Giant On The Bench

#SmiteTheWorld: Siberian Exile, Power Tattoos, And A Giant On The Bench

Greig Robertson
Photos by
Lóa Hlín Hjalmtýsdóttir

Published February 28, 2018

As accursed frozen weather creeps over Russia with the deadly, intractable purpose of a slowly growing glacier, terrified locals are reportedly flying Icelandic flags and leaving offerings of meat and wine at their windows in a vain attempt to appease the Ásatrú gods ahead of the 2018 World Cup. It will not work. The omens continue to appear, all pointing to one certain conclusion—the ice age cometh.

Iceland rise in FIFA rankings
The squabbling sewing circle of FIFA have deemed this month, in their continuing infinite wrongness, that the Icelandic national men’s football team are the world’s 18th best side. It’s Iceland’s best ever showing in the FIFA rankings, and means they leapfrog Wales and Sweden into the top twenty footballing nations. While that may seem impressive for a country of approximately 340,000 people—the world’s 180th most populous country, from 233 in total—we at Grapevine feel that this ranking is inaccurate. No other team, for example, rides dragons into battle or has a training routine that includes wrestling hangry bears. No other team has been identified by Solla The Strange as the destined World Cup champions during a vision quest that took place after she ate a particularly potent Icelandic magic mushroom omelette. FIFA beware: Iceland is coming. JR

Been working on this piece for the last year or so with @gunnar_v_tattoo been looking forward to show you guys the outcome, here it is 👆 only finishing touches left #tattoo #iceland #skjaldamerkið

A post shared by Aron Gunnarsson (@arongunnarsson) on

Aron’s power tattoo 
Iceland’s totemic captain Aron Gunnarsson has unveiled a huge back tattoo of the Icelandic crest. The insignia, as well as a shield in Icelandic colours, includes the four defenders of Iceland—a rock giant, a vicious griffin, a raging bull and a fierce eagle. All four are rumoured to have been in training lately, and made themselves available for the first team, giving manager Heimir Hallgrímsson a couple of selection headaches. Who would be better in goal? An actual giant, or Hannes “Wild Claws” Halldórsson? Only time will tell. JR

Hodgson smited again
Ex-England manager Woy Hodgson’s long-suffering wife forced him back into the spare room after his Iceland-induced night sweats returned, courtesy of the nation’s ‘Wing’d Booted Warlord,’ Gylfi Sigurðsson. Woy “The Owl” Hodgson—who lost the England job after Iceland knocked England out of Euro 2016 tournament—was forced to turn his head a full 180 degrees away from the action as Everton’s midfield maestro bedazzled the crowd in a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace. Opening the scoring with a strike crisper than a Reykjavík winter morning, Gylfi’s goal was his 17th from outside the box since his Premier League debut in January 2012—more than any current player has managed in that period. Húh! GR

Jóhann Berg pulverises Pep
Pretentious Pep Guardiola had his side’s 15-point-lead at the top of the English Premier League severed to a meagre 13 by Burnley’s Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson on February 4th. While his teammates were eating their pre-match meal—a combination of worms and gravel concocted by their mad flame-haired coach, Sean Dyche—Jóhann Berg was in a deep trance, brokering a deal with the demon Kólumkilli, whose services were secured just before kick-off. Despite Manchester City’s dominance, they were mysteriously unable to add to Danilo’s 22nd minute stunner. Jóhann Berg’s devilish deal finally came to fruition in the 82nd minute when he stabbed home from Matt Lowton’s free-kick to make it 1-1, leaving a taste sourer than ram’s testicles in Pep’s pouting mouth. GR

Siberian exile holds no fear
A video of KR Reykjavík’s white-out training conditions went viral on Twitter in February. The blizzard, recorded by behatted former Iceland Under-21 international Atli Sigurjónsson, showed staff clearing segments of the AstroTurf pitch and miniature goals being set up. Icelanders, of course, are no strangers to adverse weather conditions, and should they beat the hosts Russia in the knockout round, a victory surely wouldn’t be without consequences. Still, potential exile to Siberia holds no fear for the horde: the team have already packed their sun cream. GR 

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