Before the Russian men's hockey team was eliminated from Olympic contention by Finland, they lost to Team U.S.A. after an overturned goal late in the third period sent the game into overtime. After the loss, Russian fans took to the streets of Moscow to vent their frustration about the call with a banner that said, "Turn the referee into soap!” What seems like a bizarre threat to us here in the States is actually a quite common sports cheer in Russia, which, according to the New York Times, "impl[ies] the referee is fit only to have his bones and body fat boiled down for soap." Here are a few other quirky chants in the international sporting world.
1. The Fatty Foods Edition
Scotland has a nationwide penchant for fried foods. Fried Mars bars are a particular favorite, but anything that can be dredged in batter and crisped in oil is considered a Scottish delicacy, if stereotypes are to be believed. For their part, the Scottish people—or at least the football fans—have embraced this quirk, threatening to inflict such an undignified treatment on the favored foods of rival teams. Specifically, in games against the Italians, the Scottish fans are known to chant "We're gonna deep-fry your pizza!" Which actually sounds like a beautiful culinary collaboration.
2. The Classic British Pop Culture Edition
This one ranks as pretty mild on both the insult and profanity spectrums, but it gains points for referencing classic British television. Whenever U.K. fans feel there is an inordinate police presence on the pitch of a football game they are known to chant "It's just like watching The Bill!" which is a reference to the long-lived crime procedural set in London. Take a listen above.
3. The Grade School Halloween Humor Edition
Continuing the trend of catchy but ultimately toothless jeers, this one relies on the same homonym that makes Halloween prime time for cheesy puns. When Egypt challenged England at London's Wembley Stadium in 2010, hometown fans taunted the visitors with cheers of "Does your mummy know you're here?" A more localized version of this was used to mock the elitist, upper-class reputation of England's Craven Cottage team. Opponents' fans tried to mock the blue bloods with cheers of "Does your butler know you're here?" Because everyone knows how embarrassing wealth can be.
4. The Contentious Rivalry Low Blow Edition
When it comes to insulting the opposition, intra-national rivalries are often even more heated and personal than those that cross political boundaries. Plenty of British football chants involved specific mocking of a player's past or proclivities (even medical diagnoses and marital problems are considered fair game). So you can be sure that when Manchester United ran into some financial trouble in 2010, supporters of their rivals Manchester City didn't let the players forget it. During games, the Man City fans sung, to the tune of "This Old Man":
That spells f***ing debt to me,
with a knick knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone,
Ocean Finance on the phone.
The song ran into some opposition from other Man City loyalists who worried that the opening line might get them confused for Manchester United fans. The horror!
5. The Barmy Army Edition
Barmy Army refers to a semi-organized troupe of English cricket fans that encourages its members to travel the world in support of their team. The name was given to them by the Australian media during the 1994-'95 Test series in acknowledgement of the English faithful who made the trek despite their cricket team's near-certain loss. These days, Barmy Army has an extensive catalog of songs set to different popular tunes to rally their troops and announce their fandom. One of the most clever cheers takes a jab at Australia's roots as a penal colony for the British government. Sung to the tune of Yellow Submarine, the song goes a little something like this:
In the town where I was born, there lived a man who was a thief
And he told me of his life, stealing bread and shagging sheep.
So they put him in the nick, and then a magistrate he went to see
He said “put him on a ship, to the convict colony”
You all live in a convict colony, a convict colony, a convict colony
You all live in a convict colony, a convict colony, a convict colony.
6. The Show and Tell Edition
"Chi non salta e argentino/brasiliano!"—which translates to the utterly inoffensive "he who doesn't jump is Argentine/Brazilian"—the Italians chanted at their Argentinean and Brazilian opponents at the World Cup as they hopped around in the stands. This is good for fostering unity, I suppose, but doesn't make any claims about either the Italians' superiority or their rivals' inferiority.
7. The Basic Chant Gets a Musical Upgrade Edition
In addition to wishing a sudsy transformation upon officials, Russians have a series of other cheers popular at hockey games. The most common of these is the rather direct “Shaybu! Shaybu!” which means "Puck! Puck!" Clear, simple, direct. And yet, it became something of a phenomenon. In preparation for the Sochi Olympics, Russian pop star Irina Allegrova recorded a song called “Shaybu, Shaybu,” and then she and a host of Russian hockey players—including Alex Ovechkin—made a music video that looks a little something like this: