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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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Big Questions
Who Was Chuck Taylor?
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From Betty Crocker to Tommy Bahama, plenty of popular labels are "named" after fake people. But one product with a bona fide backstory to its moniker is Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers. The durable gym shoes are beloved by everyone from jocks to hipsters. But who's the man behind the cursive signature on the trademark circular ankle patch?

As journalist Abraham Aamidor recounted in his 2006 book Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History, Chuck Taylor was a former pro basketball player-turned-Converse salesman whose personal brand and tireless salesmanship were instrumental to the shoes' success.

Charles Hollis Taylor was born on July 24, 1901, and raised in southern Indiana. Basketball—the brand-new sport invented by James Naismith in 1891—was beginning to take the Hoosier State by storm. Taylor joined his high school team, the Columbus High School Bull Dogs, and was named captain.

After graduation, instead of heading off to college, Taylor launched his semi-pro career playing basketball with the Columbus Commercials. He’d go on to play for a handful of other teams across the Midwest, including the the Akron Firestone Non-Skids in Ohio, before finally moving to Chicago in 1922 to work as a sales representative for the Converse Rubber Shoe Co. (The company's name was eventually shortened to Converse, Inc.)

Founded in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1908 as a rubber shoe manufacturer, Converse first began producing canvas shoes in 1915, since there wasn't a year-round market for galoshes. They introduced their All-Star canvas sports shoes two years later, in 1917. It’s unclear whether Chuck was initially recruited to also play ball for Converse (by 1926, the brand was sponsoring a traveling team) or if he was simply employed to work in sales. However, we do know that he quickly proved himself to be indispensable to the company.

Taylor listened carefully to customer feedback, and passed on suggestions for shoe improvements—including more padding under the ball of the foot, a different rubber compound in the sole to avoid scuffs, and a patch to protect the ankle—to his regional office. He also relied on his basketball skills to impress prospective clients, hosting free Chuck Taylor basketball clinics around the country to teach high school and college players his signature moves on the court.

In addition to his myriad other job duties, Taylor played for and managed the All-Stars, a traveling team sponsored by Converse to promote their new All Star shoes, and launched and helped publish the Converse Basketball Yearbook, which covered the game of basketball on an annual basis.

After leaving the All-Stars, Taylor continued to publicize his shoe—and own personal brand—by hobnobbing with customers at small-town sporting goods stores and making “special appearances” at local basketball games. There, he’d be included in the starting lineup of a local team during a pivotal game.

Taylor’s star grew so bright that in 1932, Converse added his signature to the ankle patch of the All Star shoes. From that point on, they were known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Still, Taylor—who reportedly took shameless advantage of his expense account and earned a good salary—is believed to have never received royalties for the use of his name.

In 1969, Taylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The same year, he died from a heart attack on June 23, at the age of 67. Around this time, athletic shoes manufactured by companies like Adidas and Nike began replacing Converse on the court, and soon both Taylor and his namesake kicks were beloved by a different sort of customer.

Still, even though Taylor's star has faded over the decades, fans of his shoe continue to carry on his legacy: Today, Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors a day, 365 days a year, to retro-loving customers who can't get enough of the athlete's looping cursive signature.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Pop Culture
The Time a Wrestling Fan Tried to Shoot Bobby Heenan in the Ring
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For a man who didn't wrestle much, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan wound up becoming more famous than a lot of the men flexing in the squared circle. The onscreen manager of several notable grapplers, including André the Giant and “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Heenan died on Sunday at the age of 73. His passing has led to several tributes recalling his memorable moments, from dressing up in a weasel suit to hosting a short-lived talk show on TNT.

While Heenan’s “heel” persona was considered great entertainment, there was a night back in 1975 when he did his job a little too well. As a result, an irate fan tried to assassinate him in the ring.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Heenan was appearing at the International Amphitheater in Chicago as part of the now-defunct AWA wrestling promotion when his performance began to grate on the nerves of an unnamed attendee seated on the floor. Eyewitnesses described the man as friendly up until wrestlers Verne Gagne and Nick Bockwinkel started their bout with Heenan at ringside in Bockwinkel’s corner.

“Get Heenan out of there,” the fan screamed, possibly concerned his character would interfere in a fair contest. Heenan, known as “Pretty Boy” at the time, began to distract the referee, awarding an advantage to his wrestler. When the official began waving his arms to signal Heenan to stop interrupting, the fan apparently took it as the match being over and awarded in Bockwinkel’s favor. He drew a gun and began firing.

The man got off two shots, hitting three bystanders with one bullet and two more with the other before running out of the arena. (No fatalities were reported.) Security swarmed the scene, getting medical attention for the injured and escorting both Heenan and the wrestlers to the back.

According to Heenan, the shooter was never identified by anyone, and he was brazen enough to continue attending wrestling cards at the arena. ("Chicago really took that 'no snitching' thing to heart back then," according to Uproxx.)

Heenan went on to spend another 30 years in the business getting yelled at and hit with chairs, but was never again forced to dodge a bullet.

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