A thing of beauty lasts forever. Funnily enough, so does a downright abomination. Zaire's jersey for the 1974 World Cup will always be remembered as a work of art, the huge leopard print in the middle making it as cherished a piece of World Cup paraphernalia as Socrates' headband, Gary Lineker's cast and Roy Keane's unopened suitcase; by the same token, no one can forget that Jorge Campos turned up to USA '94 in a self-designed kit that made it look like the Mexico goalkeeper had headed to the biggest tournament on earth straight from an explosion in a paint shop.
Mind you, O Fiverão's all-time favourite World Cup jersey is the one worn by France for their group match against Hungary in 1978, an encounter that truly tested Fifa's supposed commitment to ensuring that football remains essentially the same at every level from the local park to the peak of the professional game: because like countless Under-12 sides all over the world, both countries pitched up wearing the same colours. Cristiano Ronaldo not being French or Hungarian, nor born, neither side wanted to resolve the problem by playing bare-chested, but postponement was averted at the last minute when the local club, Atlético Kimberley, offered to lend France their gear. So for the first and only time in their history, Les Bleus played in green and white stripes. And they were winning 3-1 when their mums called them in for their tea.
The point of this hobble through history is that looks matter. They matter even more to Colombians, whose hopes of making a lasting impression through their performances on the pitch when they make their first World Cup appearance in 16 years have been dented by the possible absence of star striker Radamel Falcao. So when Adidas unveiled the national team's new kit amid great pomp and codswallop, there was much interest down Bogota way in ensuring that the "exclusive" new design would do the nation proud.
Eyebrows were raised when it emerged that the manufacturers decided to break with tradition by producing an entirely yellow and blue jersey, with nary a trace of red, but Adidas quickly moved to fend off anger by reassuring the population that the revamped kit is indeed profoundly Colombian because it was inspired by the sombrero vueltiao, the famous hat that for centuries has been made from cane by the Zenu tribe in northern Colombia. A nice yarn, to be sure, but Colombian Twitter users couldn't help wondering that if that's the case, then how come the "exclusive" jersey looks a lot like the jerseys of Ecuador and, more alarmingly, are almost identical to the one worn by Dohuk Sport Club, an Iraqi first division side? Irate fans suggested that it was almost as if as if Adidas decided to save themselves time and money by simply taking Dohuk's kit, slapping a Colombian badge on it and hoping no one would notice.
Embarrassed Adidas officials have launched an "urgent investigation" promising to get to the bottom of the freakish coincidence. "Adidas confirms it does not sponsor or produce Iraqi team Duhok Sport Club's kit, we value our relationship with the Colombian Football Federation and will take measures to protect our trademarks and design registered both nationally and internationally," read a statement that may bear an uncanny resemblance to a statement issued by another company in a different part of the world.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK 1
"I don't expect any surprises in the squad." - Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella responds to questions about a possible World Cup call-up for Carlos Tevez and, in the process, really gets on the Fiver's goat. Of course you don't expect any surprises, Sabella, nobody expects surprises! That's what a surprise is! Besides, you're picking the darn squad so the only way you could be surprised by any inclusions is if you chose names at random from a phone book. Mind you, even if that is how Argentina selected their squad, chances are they'd still end up with at least a couple of world-class forwards.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK 2
"We have the best player in the world and we are also playing on the patio beside our house, the only problem is that that house is owned by the five-times world champion." - Sabella atones for his crazy talk in the first quote by delivering an amusing metaphor.
BITS AND BOBS
Mr Roy has announced that he will not be getting down on his knees in front of John Terry. Phew! "As far as I'm concerned retirement is retirement," barked the England manager, showing typical flexibility.
A spate of injuries to key players has led Australia coach Ange Postecoglou to consider looking for some hardy replacements to take to Brazil. Top of the list? 35-year-old Harry Kewell, of course.
Forget winning the thing, Switzerland may not even be able to field a team at future World Cups after voters passed a referendum to clamp down on immigration. Michael Lang, Fabian Schär, Reto Ziegler and Steve von Bergen are the only four members of the current Swiss side who would have been sure of being eligible if the proposed new laws had been in place previously.
The Algerian blazers who have spent the last few months singing love songs under the balcony of Nabil Bentaleb have been rewarded as the Tottenham midfielder, who represented France at youth level, has blown them a kiss and declared his willingness to play in the World Cup for Algeria.
Cameroonian blazers are even better wooers. They've just returned from France claiming that five of their six targets have decided to become Indomitable Lions, including three players who won the U-20 World Cup with France last year – Samuel Umtiti (Lyon), Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (Valenciennes) and Patrick Mboma's nephew, Axel Ngando (Auxerre).
Ghana Football Association buffet enthusiasts met the country's government to explain why they should be given at least £12m to prepare the Black Stars for the World Cup.
O FIVERÃO LETTERS
"Re: the inaugural O Fiverão. Like an ageing rock band, has the Fiver decided to fight off its own inevitable decline by embracing a hip international sound? Or like Spinal Tap, are you just hoping the same old schtick sells big overseas?" – Scott Connolly.
"Given the likely paucity of content in the coming months, wouldn't O Fiverinho have been a more appropriate name? One Portuguese word that might come in handy is falta meaning foul although this time it's a more of case of falta de educacão" – Gary Lane.
"I see what you did there O Fiverão. The direct translation for the Fiver – 'a nota de cinco libras' doesn't exactly roll off the tongue in the same way. I guess you're testing us to see if we can type a funny squiggle over the 'a' (damn you!)" – Dave Gill.
"So the Fiver launches its World Cup email in February, four months before the event kicks off? Even the Christmas adverts wait until October these days. Although, in the festive spirit, I'll take a present now if you have one. A copy of Football Manager or one of those £200 footballs would do me nicely. Ta" – Nick Stephenson.
"I see your first World Cup special-themed Fiver contained no mention of Scotland whatsoever. Yet another fine example of the English bias which pervades the British media. No doubt this sets the tone for the rest of the Fiver's World Cup coverage. I can't say I'm surprised" – Nick Plain.
"Good job on O Fiverão No1. I especially enjoyed the letters page; no pedants, no know-it-alls and nobody building up our chances of World Cup glory. It would be appreciated if this pattern were to continue. With the exception of this missive, obviously" – Ben O'Mahoney.
• Send your letters to email@example.com, with O Fiverão in the subject line. Or just World Cup Fiver if that's easier. And if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. Today's winner of our prizeless letter o' the week is: Nick Plain.
STILL WANT MORE?
Last week Radamel Falcao's chance of participating in the World Cup were put at 50%. Now they're 55%. O Fiverão calculates that by the time the summer comes, he'll be ready to give 110% in every game.
Diego Forlan reckons that the best way to prepare for beating England is to join the J-League.
"Of all the World Cup upsets, this one stands alone in myth and memory" - Simon Burnton recalls Cameroon's 1990 victory over Argentina.
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