Enough has been made about Russia and Qatar (Katar or Quatar if you’re an American Twitter user) respectively winning the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. You can find critiques of either choice all over the internet. If you want some level-headed perspective, look to the English tabloids. At least government figures are taking the vote in stride.

Mayor Boris Johnson of London took away free hotel rooms reserved for FIFA during the 2012 Olympics after England was denied the chance to host the World Cup.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his team had been in line to benefit from the rooms during the two-week sporting extravaganza in the city.

However following the controversy of the 2018 World Cup vote, which saw England knocked out at the first-round stage with just two of a possible 22 votes from the FIFA executive committee, Johnson has decided that they should not receive the freebie.

He is yet to comment on the decision, which was taken after he met with Sebastian Coe, chairman of Olympic organising committee LOCOG - the body responsible for handing out the accommodation.

That’ll show FIFA. Now they’ll have to sleep under a bridge or shack up in a hostel with a bunch of construction workers and hippie tourists. Nothing like the image of Jack Warner sharing a shower and bunk with some hippie from Argentina who smells like patchouli and sings Manu Chao to himself in his sleep. Little does Pedro know that Jack does a mean rendition of “Dollar Wine”.

It’s going to be a long two weeks. Get your ass to Mars.

The Deuce, for one, would like to welcome our new mascot overlord. We’re thrilled that it turned out to be Diego Maradona. The only other one we would have accepted is Aaron from Eastbound and Down.

Many passionate followers of soccer (myself included) will tell you that it’s a religion. There’s no Kierkegaard-style leap of faith needed to believe in what you can see, hear and feel. It’s absolutely an obsession but one that you pursue without the hocus-pocus and child molestation despite what you might see from Lionel Messi and Arsene Wenger respectively.

VICE traveled south to Rosario, Argentina to attend Mass at the Church of Maradona. This is more than a fan club. It’s an actual religion. Watch and see for yourself.

Not everyone deserves this kind of worship but there are those worthy of this level of praise. Titus Bramble, Eric Djemba Djemba, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Winston Bogarde, Oliver Miller, Glenn Davis, Jeff George (only if you’re Jason Whitlock), etc. You know. The greats.

Tomorrow we’ll travel to Sao Paulo with VICE to check in on Corinthians and their massive fan club which I had the privilege of experiencing in person years ago.

Go to VBS.tv for more on the Church of Maradona and other videos from the We Are Eleven series in addition to the usual hotness one expects from them.

**If you’re in the NYC area and want to attend “services”, check out Lunasa on 1st Ave. between 7th St. and St. Mark’s (8th St.) in the East Village. I’m usually there with the rest of the New York Blues (Chelsea). All are welcome no matter who your team. However feel free to hit us up here if you support a different club and want to commiserate with your peoples about how shit your team is. Some supporters groups have different home bases. We’ll do our best to put steer you towards the right bar/pub/Bellevue depending on who you support.

France deserve some credit. If there’s a perfect example of multitasking out there, it has to be the French. One has to wonder how they have so much time to pursue racist policies against their own citizens. It seems like cheating is job numéro un. It’s almost an art form or obsession. Don’t blame Theirry Henry for his handball. He can’t help it. It’s in the blood. Even French doctors agree.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Paclet, the French team doctor from 2004-2008, suspected that some members of the 1998 World Cup winning team were using performance-enhancing drugs.

“Blood tests revealed anomalies for several Bleus just before the 1998 World Cup,” he said.

“You can have strong suspicions when you know the clubs where certain players played.

“It’s public knowledge that there were practices which were borderline, to say the least,” Dr Paclet said.

Dr Paclet, the France team doctor from 2004 to 2008, continued: “I’ve invented nothing. Having a high hematocrit level did not prove that they took EPO. As there was no proof we didn’t bother them.”

He added: “Reasons of State carried the day. It was stronger than everything else. In addition that year (economic) growth was at stake for the country … Nevertheless it can’t be said that if we had pursued the tests we would have found proof.”

Interesting. I’m not going to sit here and defend Lance Armstrong against all the doping allegations. Maybe he did or maybe he didn’t. All I know is that the French, like Jeff Novitzky, have an unhealthy desire to nail him for it. Funny how they don’t apply the same standards to their own petulant, lazy, underage prostitute loving athletes in the name of “reasons of state”.

Dr. Jean-Marcel Ferret, the team doctor in 1998, categorically denied the allegations and claimed the anomalies were due to “tiredness from the league”. Whatever you say, guy. He and Paclet can both claim nothing was discovered at the end of the day but neglecting to pursue the tests for “reasons of state” or the fear of what might be found does not clear the air. Unfortunately we’ll never know whether the French team was using PEDs. They need to get back to deporting Roma families and making sure people with foreign-sounding names don’t get jobs. À bientôt!

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.

Some had money on Argentina going all the way in the World Cup. Others like myself were pulling for them hoping that manager Diego Maradona would OD after winning the whole thing.

Unfortunately it looked like Maradona would fade into Bolivian (marching powder) after the loss but luckily the Argentinian FA is offering him a 4-year contract next week. There’s still hope for a Tony Montana meltdown culminating in the authorities finding him face down in a massive pile of coke.

In the meantime, he isn’t slowing down. He’s dropping hits like acid.

Apologies to anyone who thought this was going to be a post on Robbie Fowler.