One of the most exciting things about any World Cup is watching 11 proud players sing the national anthems of their beloved countries. OK, that’s not strictly true, but it’s still entertaining listening to tone-deaf footballers mumble tunelessly, or in some cases belt out words with conviction that suggests they might be shot if they fail to show the requisite amount of enthusiasm.
In fact it’s only North Korean players who are in danger of such severe punishments. Only kidding, North Korea! The real punishment for not singing with enough gusto is merely 10 years hard labour in the unforgiving zinc mines of Kangdong.
We saw North Korea’s Jong Tae-Se burst into tears during "Aegukka" (The Patriotic Song) before his side’s game with Brazil on Monday evening. It was intense. StanJames.com is offering 6/1 that a non-North Korean will cry during a national anthem before the end of the tournament.
The other role of the anthems is to gauge the player’s moods before the game kicks off. Nonchalantly not signing and staring down the camera is a sure sign of a player that’s exactly the correct amount of ‘pumped’. A player quivering, white as a sheet, bleating out the words is very scared indeed. Or Gary Neville.
Paul Gascoigne famously winked at the camera during an anthem in 1990, and StanJames.com will give you 6/1 for an England player repeating his trick this year. There’s also a tempting 100/1 on offer for The Champions League anthem to be played accidentally for any team. Stranger things have happened. It's just a struggle to remember any.
Bets of the day:
A non-North Korean player to cry during the national anthem before the end of the tournament - 6/1
An England player to wink at the camera (a la Gazza in 1990) during the national anthem - 6/1
The wrong national anthem to be played for any team - 33/1
The Champions League anthem to be played accidentally for any team - 100/1