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10 Offbeat Demands Made by World Cup Teams

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Ninety minutes, two goals from Brazilian wunderkind Neymar, and one obligatory controversial call from a referee later, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is officially off and running. As teams gear up for group stage games, here’s a look at some outlandish concessions Brazilian hotels had to make to accommodate the world-class footballers calling the country home for the next month.

1. France

Setting up camp at the Hotel JP in the quiet and relatively small city of Ribeirao (population: 650,000), Les Bleus are holding their accommodations to strict standards, and are the pickiest of the bunch. French officials hired security guards to keep a watch on maids cleaning the team’s rooms (which, by the way, must be identical down to the paint color) to prevent theft, and there’s a blanket ban on cell phone use at work for hotel staffers. Perhaps less explainable than the tight security measures: France demanded all soap stocked in the hotel rooms to be liquid soap rather than bar soap.

According to Luciana Marotta Guimaraes, the general manager of JP Hotel, the French insisted on having two types of liquid soap in each room: one for showering, and one for washing hands.

2. Uruguay

To ensure a “peaceful and quiet environment” for Luis Suarez and company to get proper rest before taking the pitch, Uruguay required its hotel to provide silent air conditioning. Stationed at the JN Resort in Sete Lagoas, the air conditioning stipulation is just a means to make sure players get enough sleep.

3. Ecuador

Not wanting to miss out on the comforts of home, Team Ecuador (the lowest ranked South American nation in the World Cup) demanded a daily delivery of a basket of bananas — sourced from their native nation — to each of the players’ rooms. Also on the country’s list of demands: a welcome barbecue and a video game room.

4. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Valuing privacy at their home base at Casa Grande Hotel Resort & Spa in Guaruja, Sao Paulo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s team requested the hotel install an acoustic soundproof screen. According to the hotel’s Lourival Pierem, the World Cup first-timers decided the players would eat meals on one side, while the coaching staff ate on the other so that “their chatter will not be mixed.”

5. Iran

While not one of the higher ranked teams to compete in Brazil, the Iranian Lions will at least settle for being one of the sharpest looking. The team demanded free dry-cleaning from its hotel.

6. Switzerland

The Swiss national side won’t let Brazil’s lush beachside landscapes elude them during press ops: the team asked for a beach studio to be built to conduct TV interviews from. The team’s indoor accommodations aren’t too shabby, either: Switzerland insisted on its hotel having high-speed Internet and two Swiss TV channels available in each room.

7. Portugal

Much like France’s concerns, Portugal’s main demand was to beef up security for the entire team (read: star player and golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo). The team requested a six-person security detail to be available any time — four just for Ronaldo himself. Unrelated to the wellbeing of the team’s centerpiece player, Portugal also demanded video games for every room.

8. Japan

The Blue Samurai asked for each of the team’s hotel rooms to feature individual spa rooms, with a Jacuzzi tub in all of them.

9. Australia

The Socceroo camp at the Hotel Ilha do Boi in Vitoria, Espirito Santos asked for two large coffee stations (the hotel had to install coffee machines for four players) to be stocked with daily newspapers from around the world. According to Ibrahim Lanca of the hotel, the Aussies also want team meals to feature a healthy spin on Brazilian “red meats, fish, and chicken.”

10. Chile

Comfort is king for the Chilean squad’s digs in Brazil: the team demanded new beds and flat-screen televisions for each of the player’s rooms.

All images courtesy of Getty Images

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11 Classic Facts About Converse Chucks
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Converse’s Chuck Taylor sneakers have been around since the early 20th century, but they haven’t changed much—until recently. In 2015, The Chuck II—a new line of Converse that looks much the same as the original shoe but with a little more padding and arch support—hit stores. In honor of the kicks' staying power, here are 11 facts about Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.  

1. They were originally athletic shoes. 

The Converse All-Star debuted in 1917 as an athletic sneaker. It quickly became the number one shoe for basketball, then a relatively new sport (basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891, but the NBA wasn't founded until 1946). By the late 1940s, most of the NBA sported Chucks. They remain the best-selling basketball shoes of all time, even though very few people wear them for basketball anymore. (Many teams switched to leather Adidas in the late ‘60s.)

2. Converse previously made rain boots.

The company started in 1908 as a rubber shoe company that produced galoshes.  

3. The All-Star design hasn’t really changed since 1917.

The updated Chuck II is Converse’s first real attempt to update its flagship product since the early 20th century. The company is understandably reticent to shake things up: All-Stars make up the majority of the company’s revenue, and like any classic design, its fans can be die-hards. In the 1990s, when the company tried to introduce All-Stars that were more comfortable and had slightly fewer design inconsistencies, hardcore aficionados rebelled. “They missed the imperfections in the rubber tape that lines the base of the shoe,” according to the Washington Post. The company went back to making a slightly imperfect shoe.

4. Chuck Taylor was a basketball player and trainer ...

Chuck Taylor in 1921. Image Credit: North Carolina State University via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Taylor was a Converse salesman and former professional basketball player who traveled around the country teaching basketball clinics (and selling shoes) starting in the 1920s. His name was added onto an ankle patch on the sneaker in 1932

5. ... And though he sold a lot of Chucks, he wasn't always a great coach.

Taylor is in large part responsible for the shoe’s popularity with athletes (the company rewarded him with an unlimited expense account), but his training advice wasn’t always the best. As former University of North Carolina player Larry Brown told Spin in an oral history of the shoe:

My greatest memory of Chuck Taylor—probably ’61 or ’62—is that he told Coach [Dean] Smith that he’d make us special weighted shoes in Carolina blue. The idea was that we’d wear the weighted shoes in practice, and then during the games, we’d run faster and jump higher. Well, we tried them for one practice and everyone pulled a hamstring.

6. Converse didn’t intend for their shoes to be punk.

“We always thought of ourselves as an athletic shoe company,” John O’Neil, who oversaw Converse’s marketing from 1983 to 1997, told Spin. “We wanted to sell a wholesome shoe.” The company was still touting its shoes as basketball sneakers as late as 2012, and some of its non-Chucks sneakers still have pro endorsers.

7. The company owns a recording studio.

Finally embracing its role in the music scene, the company launched Rubber Tracks, a Brooklyn-based recording studio where bands can record for free, in 2011.

8. Not all the Ramones were fans. 

Chuck Taylors are associated with punk rockers, especially the Ramones, but not everyone in the band wore them. “Dee Dee and I switched over to the Chuck Taylors because they stopped making [the style of] U.S. Keds and Pro-Keds [that we liked],” Marky Ramone told Spin. “Joey never wore them. He needed a lot of arch support and Chuck Taylors are bad for that.”

9. Chucks were initially only high tops. 

In 1962, Converse rolled out its first oxford Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Previously, it had just been a high-top shoe. Four years later, the company would introduce the first colors other than black and white.

10. Rocky ran in them.

In 1976, All-Stars were still considered a viable athletic shoe. If you look closely at the training montage from Rocky, you’ll see the boxer is wearing Chucks. 

11. Wiz Khalifa loves them. 

The rapper named his record label Taylor Ganag Records, in part due to his appreciation for Chuck Taylors. In 2013, he launched a shoe collection with Converse featuring 12 styles. 

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