***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about 4 moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Vanuatu, which is yet to qualify for a World Cup.
“If we praise and worship John Frum, he will bring us talent in his cargo”
Nickname: The Men in Black and Gold
FIFA Ranking: 164 (June 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Withdrew from Oceania qualification tournament
Villagers on the island of Tanna worship a mythic American military figure named John Frum, believing that one day he will come to the island with his ‘cargo’ and deliver them planes, trucks, iceboxes, medicine, Coca-Cola, and with Vanuatu mired all the way down at 164th in the world, having never even made it past the semi-finals of its regional Nations Cup, hopefully some half-decent soccer players and coaches too.
Vanuatu’s John Frum ‘cargo cult’ was born out of years of colonial repression and persecution and interference from foreign Christian missionaries. The locals cleared forestlands for aircraft runways and constructed makeshift ports, they perform military marches complete with scarlet-tipped replica bayonets made from bamboo, fly and salute Old Glory, adorn themselves in USA regalia and insignia on their chests and backs, and on the 15th February every year, they celebrate John Frum day, all in the hope that their saviour John will come back and gift them a better life and half-decent soccer team.
John Frum was first seen by village elders during a traditional kava-fuelled apparition of a messianic American soldier first appeared to local elders in the late 1930s, where their ‘Merican messiah assured them he will come back and help them. He came good on this promise, reappearing during the second World War and bringing with him thousands of troops, along with a seemingly endless supply of tanks, artillery, medical supplies, chocolate and cigarettes, while also constructing military bases complete with housing, hospitals, new roads and bridges. Yet sadly for the national soccer team, he didn’t bring any talented soccer players, coaches or even like a single lousy book on how to play soccer better. Not even a fucking ball for fuck’s sake.
John is said to live in Tanna’s sacred Yasur Volcano and goes home to America every day because well ask Chief Isaac, because according to him John goes through the volcano and under the sea. But more than sixty years since he last descended from the heavens to shower all Vanuatuans with riches, he is still yet to return with even a single plane, radio, wristwatch, 25-horsepower outboard motor, washing machine, or any candy, Coca Cola or any soccer talent of any kind.
One to watch: The weather (very closely)
In 2020, Vanuatu was classified as the world’s most at-risk nation for natural hazards. Sitting on an oceanic path of volatile seismic activity, the country is particularly prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. So whether there’s any rain, even a slight breeze, it’s a touch colder than it should be, did you feel that what was that, there’s too much sunlight, too little sunlight, it’s eerily quiet or eerily loud, geez the birds are awfully peaceful today, geez the birds are awfully loud today, it’s weirdly humid today or no seriously I just felt something, you’re gonna wanna keep a close eye on it, because, most likely, a horrific natural disaster of unimaginable fury is about to wreak havoc.
The Highpoint: Defeating New Zealand 4-2 and denying them a 2006 World Cup OFC playoff spot
Much like every other team in Oceania, Vanuatu’s greatest moment came at the expense of New Zealand. In this case, the Men in Black & Gold’s came playing in orange in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, when a 4-2 defeat of the All Whites denied them a spot in the Oceania qualification final round. The win did nothing for Vanuatu’s hopes however–they finished bottom of the group in the second round–but heaping more misery on New Zealand just never gets old*. Another classic… Cheers Vanuatu!
*At that point, with the knowledge confederation powerhouse Australia were moving to the Asian confederation starting from the next World Cup, New Zealand had already begun half-assing it anyway. A step further, these days they’re quarter-assing it, with the knowledge Oceania will get an automatic finals berth starting 2026.
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
Depends. Will it make John Frum come quicker?