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The Nicknames of All 32 World Cup 2014 Teams

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The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is six months out, but there's no better time to pick a side to root for come summer. If you're still parsing through the groups in search of a team, here's a look at each squad in this year's cup and their nicknames.

Group A

1. Brazil: "Canarinho" ("Little Canary")

Named for the squad's famously bright yellow kits. Other less popular nicknames include the just-as-colorful "Verde-Amarela" ("The Green and Yellow"), "Samba Kings" for the nearly-dancing footskills of the team's players, and the boastful "Pentacampeões" ("The Five Time Champions," apparently a moniker that's subject to change).

2. Croatia: "Vatreni" ("The Blazers")

Also known as Bilic's Boys as of late, deriving their second nickname from the surname of current head coach Slaven Bilic.

3. Mexico: "El Tri"

For the three colors (red, white, and green) of the nation's flag. If you want to be more formal, "El Tricolor." 

4. Cameroon: "Les Lions Indomptables" ("The Indomitable Lions")

North Cameroon and North Nigeria split the Bénoué-Gumti lion conservation project, which seeks to preserve the region's lion population.

Group B

5. Spain: "La Furia Roja" ("The Red Fury")

The Spanish side earned their most popular nickname in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, where they won a silver medal and popularized the tiki-taka style of playing, concentrating on "flair, creativity, and touch." The team also goes by its primary uniform color—"La Roja."

6. Netherlands: "Clockwork Orange"

The Dutch squads of the 1970s became known for their knack for precision passing, winning them a very Kubrickian nickname for their brand of Total Football (a scheme designed to maintain possession of the ball), a pastiche on the country's famous national color.

7. Chile: "La Roja" ("The Red One")

Though Chile sports a repeat nickname already used by a Group B team, they're the only team in their respective group with a theme song. Penned by Chicagoan indie rockers Manwomanchild, "Chile La Roja" was an unofficial anthem for the team's 2010 World Cup appearance in South Africa. Maybe their universality is chalked up to another nickname: "El Equipo de Todos," or "Everybody's Team," thanks to a fan-favorite attacking style.

8. Australia: "Socceroos"

Journalist Tony Horstead coined the portmanteau of a nickname in 1967 while covering the team's goodwill tour to South Vietnam, borrowing the back end of the name from one of Australia's best-known inhabitants. By 1974, the nickname was included in Australian Women's Weekly sans explanation.

Group C

9. Colombia: "Los Cafeteros" ("The Coffee Growers")

The Colombians' moniker riffs on one of the nation's largest exports.

10. Greece: "Piratiko" ("The Pirate Ship")

Though an unlikely pairing at first glance, Greek sportscasters spawned the name during a telecast of an upset victory against Portugal in the Euro 2004 tournament. The tournament's opening ceremony, hosted by Greece, flaunted a pirate ship. Inspired, Greek color commentator Georgios Halakis said the team had to "become pirates and steal the victory."

11. Ivory Coast: "Les Elephants" ("The Elephants")

Cote d'Ivoire (the country) earned its namesake for a booming ivory trade.

12. Japan: "Blue Samurai"

Blue for the uniforms, "Samurai" for the Japanese warriors of yore.

Group D

13. Uruguay: “La Celeste" ("The Sky Blue One")

The team's secondary nickname ("Los Charrúas") is a little more historical than just a description of the team's dominant hue: the name derives from the Charrúa people, indigenous nomads of Uruguay whose claims to notoriety involve killing Spanish explorer Juan Diaz de Solis and the group's massacre at Salsipuedes Creek in April of 1831.

14. Costa Rica: “Los Ticos”

"Tico" is a colloquial form of "costarricenses," or the Spanish-speaking term for inhabitants of the Latin American nation.

15. England: “Three Lions”

Named thusly for the trio of lions present on England's national football team crest — and the English coat of arms. It's a traditional emblem dating back to the reign of (you guessed it) Richard the Lionheart.

16. Italy: "Gli Azzuri" (“The Blues”)

The running nickname for Italy's national football, basketball, ice hockey, volleyball, rugby union, and rugby league teams, "Azzuri" springs from the plural form of the Italian word "azzuro," or azure blue.

Group E

17. Switzerland: "The Schweizer Nati" ("The Swiss National Team")

Sometimes, brevity is the soul of nicknames too.

18. Ecuador: “La Tri”

Much like Mexico, Ecuador's national football side named itself for the three colors of the country's flag: yellow, blue, and red.

19. France: "Les Bleus" (“The Blues”)

Simple: the principal color of France's primary jersey is blue. 

20. Honduras: "Los Catrachos"

Stemming from General Florencio Xatruch, who led Honduras forces against Nicaraguan president and American native William Walker in 1856, "catrachos" is a catch-all name for Hondurans as said by other Central American countries.

Group F

21. Argentina: "La Albicelestes" (“The White and Sky Blue”)

Again, sticking to the pattern of nicknames-based-on-team-uniform-colors.

22. Bosnia and Herzegovina: "Zmajevi" ("Dragons")

The team's nickname often referred to by international media is a little less ferocious than the popular Bosnian nickname: "Zlatni Ljiljani," or "Golden Lilies," for the lily native to Bosnia and Herzegovina, also appearing on the Bosnian coat-of-arms.

23. Iran: “Team Melli"

Which translates literally to "The National Team." Runners-up for nicknames include "Persian Stars" (used since the 2006 World Cup), "The Iranian Lions," "Lion Hearts," and, most recently, "Princes of Persia," in use since the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

24. Nigeria: “Super Eagles"

Erstwhile known as the "Green Eagles," the nickname comes from the eagle perched atop a soccer ball on the Nigerian national football team crest. Nigeria adopted the name after a controversial loss at the hands of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations final.

Group G

25. Germany: “Nationalmannschaft" ("National Team")

See also: Switzerland and Iran.

26. Portugal: “Selecção das Quinas" ("Team of the Five")

The team is nicknamed for the five shields present on the national football team crest.

27. Ghana: “Black Stars”

In another nod to the team's national flag, Ghana's team name references the eponymous black star that the country's flag sports in its center.

28. United States: “The Yanks"

Informally shortened from the colloquial term "Yankees," other Team USA nicknames include "The Stars and Stripes" and, well, "Team USA."

Group H

29. Belgium: “Red Devils”

"Rote teufel" if you're in Germany, "Rode Duivels" if you're speaking Dutch, or "Diables Rouges," according to the French. The nickname was first used by journalist Pierre Walckiers after a flurry of impressive victories in 1906 against France and the Netherlands — Belgium's uniforms prominently feature red.

30. Algeria: “Les Fennecs" ("The Desert Foxes")

Algeria is more than 80 percent desert (which probably makes for rough soccer conditions.) The titular fennec is a small, nocturnal fox native to Northern Africa.

31. Russia: "Sbornaya" ("National Team")

See also: Germany, Iran, and Switzerland.

32. South Korea: "Taeguk" ("Warriors")

The taeguk (the yin and yang symbol front-and-center on the national flag) is a symbol of balance. The team has also been labeled as "The Reds" for their crimson team kit—the team's official supporters, started in 1995, banded together as "The Red Devils."

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9 Things You Might Not Know About 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
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Even by the standards of pro wrestling and its exaggerated personalities, there’s never been anyone quite like Randy “Macho Man” Savage (1952-2011). A staple of WWE and WCW programming in the 1980s and 1990s, Savage’s bulging neck veins, hoarse voice, and inventive gesticulations made him a star. Check out some facts in honor of what would’ve been Savage’s 65th birthday.

1. HE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER.

Born Randall Poffo in Columbus, Ohio, Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo, was a notable pro wrestler in the 1950s, sometimes wrestling under a mask with a dollar sign on it as “The Masked Miser.” If that was considered the family business, Savage initially strayed from it, pursuing his love of baseball into a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals farm team as a catcher directly out of high school. Savage played nearly 300 minor league games over four seasons. After failing to make the majors, he decided to follow his father into wrestling.

2. A HAWAIIAN WRESTLER INSPIRED HIS FAMOUS TAGLINE.

In 1967, a then-15-year-old Savage accompanied his father to a wrestling event in Hawaii. There, he saw island grappler King Curtis Iaukea deliver a “promo,” or appeal for viewers to watch him in a forthcoming match. Iaukea spoke in a whisper before bellowing, punctuating his sentences with, “Ohhh, yeah!” That peculiar speech pattern stuck with Savage, who adopted it when he began his career in the ring.

3. HIS MOM GAVE HIM THE “MACHO MAN” NICKNAME.


By John McKeon from Lawrence, KS, United States - Randy "Macho Man" Savage, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

According to Savage, his wrestling nickname didn’t come from the Village People song but from an article his mother, Judy, had read in Reader’s Digest announcing that “macho man” was going to be a hot term in the coming years. She mailed it to Savage along with a list of other possible names. Even though neither one seemed to know what a “macho man” was, Savage liked the sound of it. His stage name, Savage, came from Georgia promoter Ole Anderson, who thought Savage’s grappling style was ferocious.

4. HE SCARED OTHER WRESTLERS.

In the early 1980s, Savage’s father had started promoting his own regional shows in the Lexington, Kentucky area. To draw publicity, Savage and the other wrestlers would sometimes show up to rival shows threatening grapplers and offering up wagers that they could beat them up in a real fight. Once, a Memphis wrestler named Bill Dundee pulled a gun on Savage, who allegedly took it away from him and beat him with it. After his father’s promotion closed up, Savage landed in the WWF (now WWE), giving him a national platform.

5. JAKE THE SNAKE’S PYTHON PUT HIM IN THE HOSPITAL.

One of Savage’s recurring feuds in the WWE was with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, a lanky wrestler who carried a python into the ring with him and allowed the reptile to “attack” his opponents. To intensify their rivalry, Savage agreed to allow Roberts’s snake to bite him on the arm during a television taping after being assured it was devenomized. Five days later, Savage was in the hospital with a 104-degree fever. Savage lived, but the snake didn’t; it died just a few days later. “He was devenomized, but maybe I wasn’t,” Savage told IGN in 2004. 

6. HE PLANNED HIS MATCHES DOWN TO THE SECOND.

While outcomes may be planned backstage, the choreography of pro wrestling is left largely up to the participants, who either talk it over prior to going out or call their moves while in the ring. For a 1987 match with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III, Savage wanted everything to be absolutely perfect.

“We both had those yellow legal tablets, and we started making notes,” Steamboat told Sports Illustrated in 2015. “Randy would have his set of notes and I would have mine. Then we got everything addressed—number 1, number 2, number 3—and we went up to number 157. Randy would say, ‘OK, here is up to spot 90, now you tell me the rest.’ I would have to go through the rest, then I would quiz him. I’d never planned out a match that way, so it was very stressful to remember everything.” The effort was worth it: Their match is considered by many fans to be among the greatest of all time.

7. HIS MARRIAGE TO MISS ELIZABETH CAUSED PROBLEMS IN THE LOCKER ROOM.

Savage’s “valet” in the WWE was Miss Elizabeth, a fixture of his corner during most of his career in the 1980s. Although they had an onscreen wedding in 1991, they had been married in real life back in 1984. According to several wrestlers, Savage was jealously guarded with his wife, whom he kept in their own locker room. Savage would also confront wrestlers he believed to have been hitting on her. The strain of working and traveling together was said to have contributed to their (real) divorce in 1991.

8. HE CUT A RAP ALBUM DISSING HULK HOGAN.

In 2003, with his best years in the ring behind him, Savage decided to pursue a new career in rap music. Be a Man featured 13 rap songs, including one that eulogized his late friend, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. But the performance that got the most mainstream attention was the title track, which dissed wrestling star Hulk Hogan. The two had apparently gotten into a rivalry after Hogan made some disparaging comments about Savage on a Tampa, Florida radio show. Whether the sentiment was real or staged, it didn’t do much to help sales: Be a Man moved just 3000 copies.

9. HE MIGHT GET A STATUE IN HIS HOMETOWN.

In 2016, fans circulated a petition to get Savage his own statue in Columbus, Ohio. The initiative was inspired by the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has a monument in Columbus, and wrestling fans argue that Savage should get equal time. The mayor has yet to issue a response. In the meantime, a 20-inch-tall resin statue of Savage was released by McFarlane Toys in 2014.

See Also: 10 Larger-Than-Life Facts About Andre the Giant

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10 Secrets of Ski Instructors
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If you’ve spent this fall wearing shorts and sandals, you’re not alone: Temperatures have been warmer than average across the United States. But no matter how warm it is where you are, there’s still snow (and skiing) in the forecast somewhere. Before you hit the slopes this winter, check out these on-the-job secrets of ski instructors, from why they love bad weather to what they do during the summer.

1. THEY LOVE BAD WEATHER.

No one can control the weather, but ski instructors cross their fingers for frosty temperatures and heavy snowfall. “Ski instructors love cold, appalling winter weather because it so often results in big snowfalls and the skier's dream—velvety powder snow,” says Chalky White, a ski instructor and the author of The 7 Secrets of Skiing.

But big snowfalls don’t always happen, so ski instructors try to make the best of whatever weather they encounter on a given day. Tony Macri of Snow Trainers, a ski and snowboard training company based in Colorado and New Zealand, tells Mental Floss that the weather’s unpredictability makes ski instructing an adventure. “I never think that weather is disappointing,” he says. “It is what creates more challenge and mystery in every day, versus going back to your cubicle that always has the same florescent light shining down on you.”

2. SOME OF THEM HAVE A BEEF WITH SNOWBOARDERS.

Although some ski instructors also teach (and love) snowboarding, the majority of them try to stay away from snowboarders on the slopes, at least when they’re teaching. “[Snowboarders] tend to push all the fresh snow down the hill with their natural movements. Gets pretty frustrating!” justind99, a ski instructor in Quebec, writes in a Reddit AMA.

But other ski instructors have a more zen attitude when it comes to snowboarders and preach coexistence. “We are all here to have fun,” rbot1, a ski instructor in Salt Lake City, says in a Reddit AMA. “The snowboarder vs skier stigma does nothing but cause problems. Share the mountain!”

3. THEIR CERTIFICATION PROCESS IS INTENSE.

Ski instructor teaching adults

Depending on the country in which they become certified, ski instructors must take classes and pass a series of tests to prove their proficiency. In the U.S., the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) establishes certification requirements for instructors. Once instructors become certified, they can take additional tests of their technical skills to earn higher levels of certification.

“Level 1 is pretty easy to get. Anyone that can ski a blue square comfortably can pass a level 1 exam,” rbot1 says. But achieving certification for higher levels is more challenging, requiring ski instructors to demonstrate their mastery of various turns, bump runs, and drills. “A single mistake in any of those runs nets you a fail,” says rbot1, who spent two years preparing for his Level 2 test. “These drills might be easy to complete, but you have to do it perfectly.”

4. THEY’VE SEEN SOME GNARLY ACCIDENTS.

Although some people think of skiing as a risky activity, ski instructors insist that, statistically, skiing is no more hazardous than many other sports. That said, most ski instructors have seen at least one nasty injury on the slopes, including broken legs and noses, concussions, and shoulder dislocations. “The worst injury I ever witnessed was a spinal fracture from a kid landing on his back after attempting to do a jump in the snow park area,” justind99 says.

“I have seen some injuries to knees, but the worst was when a friend concussed himself so bad that he was knocked out and was actually sleeping with his eyes open,” Macri says. White tells Mental Floss that a helicopter once picked him up from the slopes because medics suspected that he’d broken his neck. “Good news—I didn’t."

5. THEIR PAY ISN’T GREAT.

The income ski instructors make can vary widely, based on where they teach and their level of expertise. Some instructors earn $10 or $11 an hour for group lessons but charge more for private lessons or longer coaching sessions. While most beginning ski instructors may make just $20,000 per year, the perks of getting paid to ski outweigh the lack of cash for many instructors. “I do understand that at some point I’ll need to either start working really hard to boost my earning potential as an instructor or find another field,” rbot1 says. “For now, it’s a blast.”

6. THEY GET CREATIVE TO TEACH KIDS.

Ski instructor teaching children

A group of young kids bundled up in ski jackets while they try to balance on narrow skis might look adorable, but teaching children to ski comes with plenty of challenges. “Some kids don't have the muscles to do it at [a young] age and some do,” explains inkybus21, a ski and snowboard instructor who has taught in Canada, Australia, and Japan. To make sure his young students don’t lose interest or give up, he makes up games that require various skiing motions and uses visuals to help kids figure out how to properly use their bodies.

7. THEIR EQUIPMENT IS EXPENSIVE.

Ski equipment can be pricey, and ski instructors know the pain of an empty wallet firsthand. From skis and boots to bindings, poles, helmets, goggles, and other accessories, ski instructors can easily spend over $1000 on their equipment. And because their gear gets more use than a casual skier’s, instructors typically go through a pair of skis, boots, and liners each season. But many instructors are eligible for steep discounts on their gear, thanks to their employer or their PSIA-AASI membership. “I haven't bought anything at retail price in years,” rbot1 says. “I can’t even imagine paying full price for a pair of boots or ski/binder set up.”

8. THEY MISS SKIING DURING THE SUMMER.

In a career dependent on the winter season, what do ski instructors do during the summer? Some of them travel to the opposite hemisphere to work at a ski resort—essentially working two winters in a row. But because it can be costly to travel and live on another continent, most ski instructors work odd jobs or use their savings to rock climb and explore the outdoors in the off season. Rbot1, for example, has spent his summers working at a ski resort’s restaurant, boxing fish at an Alaskan processing plant, and living off of his savings. “Most people have a seasonal job. The most popular is raft guiding, the second most popular is working at a state park,” he says.

9. THEY GREATLY APPRECIATE TIPS.

Ski instructors don’t always receive tips from their students, and they wish more people knew that they welcome—and in some cases, expect—gratuity. Rbot1 recounts the story of how he once earned $1500, his biggest tip to date, after instructing a family of four for five days, taking them to different parts of the mountain and even eating lunch with them. “At the end of the week it was all hugs and smiles, but my hand was left dry,” he says. “Anyways, next day I got an email that said ‘you have a tip in the office’ and BOOM $1500 in an envelope.” Rbot1 made good use of the generous tip, paying two months of rent and car payments, as well as buying new ski goggles and gloves.

10. THEY LOVE HELPING PEOPLE OVERCOME THEIR FEARS.

Although skiing is good exercise and an enjoyable winter activity, learning to ski can also help people feel more confident. “It’s not always about skiing and teaching people to be the best skiers,” Macri says. “A lot of [the job] is just about showing people a good time and helping them achieve their goals or overcoming their fears.”

Macri particularly appreciates the amazing views from the top of a mountain, as well as the feeling he gets when he takes students down a great run and everyone high-fives one another in joy. “I sit back and think this is my office and I am having just as amazing [a] time as everyone else. The only difference is that I am getting paid for it,” he says.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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