You have got to love crazy Russians with too much money on their hands. No we’re not talking about New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, we’re talking about the guy who wants to pay Paul the Prognosticating Octopus $5,000 a month salary for his sports betting picks.

Oleg Zhuravsky, one of the owners of a Russian sports betting site, Bet League, is the man who thinks the octopus, fresh off of a perfect 8-0 record for his World Cup picks, has what it takes to be a bookmaker…and  he wants this cephalopod mollusk BAD. From the New Zealand Herald:

“Our specialists receive around $US3000 (NZ$4221) a month, so we will pay Paul $US5000 (NZ$7035).”

Mr Zhuravsky said he was willing to pay the Sea Life Oceanarium attraction in Oberhausen, Germany, where Paul lives, as much as 100,000 euros ($NZ182,052) for the oracle octopus.

According to todays conversion rate, that is $129,180 in US currency. Zhuravsky believes in the octopus so much that he would have pre-paid for 26 months of his picks.

Of course if the octopus stayed correct, that would be a steal but…wait, Wait, WAIT!  This is an Octopus man! COME ON. COME ON.

If you’re going to go down for something, the least you can do is go out in a blaze of glory like Maurice Clarrett. Former Vikings head coach Mike Tice scalped a bunch of tickets for what? A bucket of week-old Taco Bell shrimp and a pink slip. Let Robbie Earle show you how it’s done.

ITV World Cup pundit Robbie Earle was fired from his job for passing “substantial number of [World Cup] tickets” allocated to him to a “third party”. It turns out the third party was really a party. If 36 Dutch women aren’t a party, I don’t know what is.

Here’s where things get interesting. The women, all wearing orange dresses as the Dutch do, were part of a guerrilla marketing campaign by Bavaria Beer. The women showed up at the Netherlands-Denmark game and were promptly arrested by FIFA? Is that like getting arrested at Disney World?

The models were detained and questioned by FIFA and police who informed them that “ambush marketing” is illegal and punishable by six months in jail. One can only assume FIFA jail is having to service Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner in some Swiss ice palace in the Alps.

It should be noted that Bavaria Beer is not an official sponsor of the 2010 McDowell’s Meisterbrau RC Cola BP Sorny World Cup. The dresses didn’t have any logo on them but they come with every purchase of Bavaria.

Bavaria’s excellent response?

“Fifa doesn’t have a monopoly on the colour orange.”

Maybe so but shart brown is the official color of the World Cup.

Enough. We give you video of these brave, intrepid women unlike others who tease you with words and pictures.

It won’t be long before these martyrs take their place in the pantheon of South African heroes alongside Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.

Argentina is going to win the World Cup or go down in flames. There’s no middle ground when it comes to their 2010 squad. The reason? Manager Diego Maradona. He already complained about the toilets and had executive bidets installed for the team. Front and rear bidet wands. Side to side and all that shit. They also have 16 inch rims.

The crazy don’t stop there. It goes on the pitch too. Check this video from an Argentina training session. Do not lose a match in training under Maradona. If you do, this might will be your punishment.

I’ll tell you one thing. I’m getting ‘Nam-style flashbacks to playing Butts Up in school.

I just to see Maradona crack and be filmed with his head in a huge pile of coke. That would definitely make up for the Black Eyed Peas. Sepp Blatter and FIFA owe the world an apology for that abortion of an act.

It’s only a matter of time before ESPN decides to get a corporate sponsor for every play in the World Cup. When it happens, it might look a little something like this:

You can’t watch this video and think not if but when. Dave O’Brien was the shot across the bow and Alexi Lalas is the advance party of the impending disaster. If you think we’re kidding, you should see what ESPN is trying to do to the Premier League.

In the US, where ESPN built its reputation, there is a culture of coaches and players allowing cameras into dressing rooms, being interviewed live during games and even briefing broadcasters on their tactics ahead of a match so they can choose the best camera angles.

…ESPN recently made a presentation to all 20 Premier League clubs in which it appealed for more access to players and managers. The presenter Rebecca Lowe said the broadcaster wanted to “knock the door down” on the issue of access rights.

“It’s about trust. There are some clubs that won’t let us anywhere near dressing rooms and others that let you in,” said Lowe. “This is where the FA Cup might help us. If you’re going to do something with the FA Cup you have to get more access and more innovations. If we can show we can do it respectfully, it should build trust. In an ideal world it would be fantastic to be in the dressing room, get interviews, get the manager as he is going out.”

She added: “Hopefully we’ll be able to chip away at the Premier League and eventually get a product that is more like America, where you get that amazing access. It’s a massive mountain to climb, but we want to climb it.”

This must be the secret plan to get England back for what BP is doing to the Gulf of Mexico. If the FA wants to know what their future would be under ESPN’s foot, they should watch Monday Night Football or any college football game. The video above, while a parody, is not far from the truth.

If anything, the viewer comes away dumber from sideline “reporting”. Why do we need a sanitized version of what goes on in locker rooms? Do we need canned lines and cliches from managers and coaches? They add nothing to the viewing experience and don’t increase understanding of the game. We don’t need to see everything. What we do see “behind the scenes” is not what really happens. Can you imagine Alex Ferguson taking the time to speak to a reporter during a match? We can wait until after the match for Arsene Wenger to tell us that he didn’t see anything.

ESPN has already dumbed down sports to the point where it becomes a chore to sit through Sportscenter let alone a game. Part of soccer’s beauty is the ability to cut out all of the bullshit and focus on the match without interruption. Biased or stupid announcers like Tommy Smyth (he fits both) come with the package but it’s a small price to pay without the Boddington’s foot cam or the HP replay shot.

H/T to Slate.

"But I already pay you for no card!"

Does this look like a man you can trust? If so, I have $20 million to give you. Just provide your banking account details and I will make you very rich. Confidentiality is a must.

Brazilian Carlos Simon has been assigned to referee the US-England match next Saturday on the opening weekend of the World Cup. No big deal except for the fact that he was suspended for six weeks last season for incompetence and corruption.

Carlos Eugenio Simon was suspended by his national federation for ‘a repetition of mistakes’ but far more serious accusations were levelled at him after he disallowed a perfectly good goal for Palmeiras against Fluminense.

Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, the president of Palmeiras, branded Simon a ‘crook, scoundrel and a bastard’, adding that he was ‘without shame’ and ‘in the drawer of someone’. He also said he had ‘made a service’ for Fluminense and said he would ‘slap him’ if he ‘met him on the street’.

…Another time, Simon failed to give a penalty for Brasiliense, a Division Two team, in the Copa do Brasil final against Corinthians in 2002. Even the Corinthians players said it was a penalty.

FIFA was aware of these and other incidents but still assigned Simon to work the World Cup. They must be taking a page from UEFA’s playbook.

Simon is definitely a referee to be watched during the tournament. Byron Moreno would like to know why everyone’s getting worked up about this.