The term WAGs entered the vernacular during the 2006 tournament when a media circus seemed to forever surround the misadventures of the England squad's Wives And Girlfriends in the German town of Baden Baden. Papparazzi and tabloid journalists caught every sip of champagne and every 'Christian' this or 'Louis' that which was sported whilst the competition for the highest heels was attracting at least as much attention as that for the Golden Boot.
Ultimately though the press eventually turned on the infamous WAGS when England whimpered out of the competition at the hands of Portugal blaming their distraction for the underachieving performances of their menfolk on the big stage.
So where are they now? Well VB, (which I always remembered as the only really acceptable Australian beer) Victoria Beckham is obviously cursing the achilles tendon of her somewhat famous husband for completely screwing up her PR diary for the summer. His injury means there's really no need for photographs of her in overly large sunglasses to adorn every front page on Fleet Street. Missus Rooney is at home with new baby Kai (does this make her a Wagamama?), Cheryl Cole has recently and quite publicly been involved in the latest of a long line of "Love Rat" scandals to hit English football, so has Mrs. John Terry, when he was involved with a teammates ex girlfriend. Alex Curran, who is the wife of new England captain Steven Gerrard is staying home with the kids, presumably because she will have no one to play with over in South Africa, and probably key to the whole disbandment of the WAG circus is the fact that unlike his predecessor, Sven Goran Eriksson, Fabio Cappello has vetoed all forms of WAG being in contact with the squad whilst they are on duty.
There is, however, a timing aspect to the no-show. In 2006 it was spend, spend, spend. The "Sex and the City" effect was in full flow with opulence and narcissism the trend du jour. The WAGS epitomized a Europe which was running away with itself financially and in all honesty it was all very, very tacky. One economic crash later and a shift of continent to Africa would render any Champagne sipping in 10,000-dollar dresses a PR disaster and rightly so.
But what does this mean to the real football fan? There is one down side. Key to the enjoyment of the tournament is the engagement of one's own WOG (Wife or Girlfriend). A key factor in WOG engagement is the weekly women's magazine keeping the tournament firmly in the zeitgeist. I fear that this year, the pages of said publications will turn to the latest reality TV show whilst ignoring the fact that the World Cup is even happening. This is bad. This means that key to a successful engagement of one's WOG is now hinging on her gambling selection staying the distance. This has proved to be my trump card in past tournaments as my wife has an uncanny knack for picking the winner. Last week I alluded to the fact that she had selected Spain, however, after reading my piece in this fine publication, she has exercised her right as a female to change her mind and nailed her colors to the German mast in sympathy with what she describes as a "misunderstood race."
So for at least the group stages, if you listen real close you may just hear a muffled sigh of relief coming all the way from the east when the Germans sneak a one nil win. Who said this tournament was fair?
Keys to successful WOG engagement
1. Gambling. Place a sizeable bet for her on one of the favorites. Spain, Brazil or Argentina should keep her appetite in that elusive handbag whetted till at least the semis.
2. Food. When the Germans are playing make a German-themed dinner, and that doesn't mean beer and hotdogs. A nice Paella when the Spanish are on. Fajita's when Mexico play. She'll just love the sense of occasion.
3. Celeb spotting. Leverage the female infatuation with celebrity and fashion. "I was watching the Brazil game and Giselle was there in a very striking dress that would look great on you" and watch her flick through the channels looking for reruns.
4. Hot men. The Italian team is always full of good-looking men. The US team has, so I've been told, one Carlos Bocanegra who is the ultimate Californian pin-up and there's Didier Drogba, Robin Van Persie and Cristiano 'Hair Gel and Hot Pants' Ronaldo. Finding a heterosexual way to drop this into conversation may be a challenge.