With gangs training for all-out brawls in the forests of Russia, the injury curses flying thick and fast, and clubs around the world trying to sign our in-demand warriors, here’s the latest pre-World Cup news from the Icelandic camp, and beyond.
Iceland captain in demand
Aron Gunnarsson, the totemic leader of the Icelandic team, is out of contract at Cardiff this summer, but there are no shortage of suitors for his fearsome footballing wrath. The Bluebirds are reportedly keen to retain his smiting services, but UK Newspaper The Sun reports that various teams in Europe and the U.S. are trying to lure him away, including Turkish champions Besiktas. Aron is rumoured to have various demands in his contract, including the rights to a large portion of the spoils of war after storming enemy cities. Time will tell where he ends up, but people living in the lesser cities of Turkey should be afraid. JR
Birkir Bjarnason missed out on Aston Villa’s game against Leeds last weekend after suffering a suspicious spontaneous injury. “His back stiffened up and he felt a twinge as he left the dressing room,” reports the AVFC website. “It was a funny one really, he hadn’t actually done anything to provoke it. He’s a tough character so it must have been bad for him to pull out just before kick-off.” We at Grapevine suggest hiring a witch to scan the global psychic network for signs of foul Argentinian magick warfare. JR
More than an experiment
Infinite praise has been heaped on the role of infrastructural investment in Iceland’s current international success, but the team’s technical director Arnar Bill Gunnarsson insists that there’s something mystical about the current horde of young footballing warlords. “Many people have talked about our coaching system and our facilities being a big reason why we can compete, but we have a golden generation who started playing football before those facilities came,” Arnar told football website Goal.com. “The system of play fits them really well, their attitude is fantastic, and everything’s clicking together.” Stick that in your pipe, self-gratifying politicians. GR
Battle of the hashtags
It’s no secret that with Team USA failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the 326,000,000 citizens of the United States—at least, those who are enlightened to the beautiful game—are looking for another team to get behind. Iceland’s population is around 0.1% of the US, so there are various online efforts going to bring a little extra support to Iceland’s siege of the tournament. Einstök have launched the #AdoptIceland initiative, and a formal #TeamIceland hashtag is also in use. Alongside #IcelandSmites and—of course—#SmiteTheWorld, that should still leave you a few characters to tweet your victory yawp when we crush the world’s finest beneath our mighty heel this summer. JR
Russian gangs issue threats
Russia’s famously violent football hooligan “ultras” are in training to face off against opposition supporters on the 2018 World Cup. Online videos surfaced recently online of all-women gangs with names like Siege Girls staging mass brawls in snowy forests. Martial arts expert Viktoria, who runs the Slavyanki Gang, said to the Sunday Express newspaper: “This world can’t be without traumas and everyone knows there will be injuries.” The threats are mostly levelled at England supporters due to recent political tensions, but anyone travelling to the World Cup should stay alert, and stay safe. JR
Read more about Iceland’s World Cup-winning destiny here.