Even if you don’t like football / soccer, there is plenty to love about the excitement the FIFA World Cup in Brazil is  generating. In the Netherlands, it’s certainly the main topic of conversation. So here’s some football news for the football widows and those who are left bemused by the whole thing. The Netherlands started off with a fantastic 5-1 victory over the defending champions Spain, but the goal scored by Robin van Persie was something special and has sparked a new trend with the launch of #persieing. There are plenty of other things to love about the sports coverage, from dogs in the studio to fans in fancy dress and football fashion.

Van Persie’s goal starts a trend, #persieing

Dutch striker Robin van Persie scored a fabulous goal with an athletic swan dive, described as a snoekduik, a ‘pike dive’ (as in the fish). In case you haven’t seen it, watch it here ; he’s certainly living up to his nickname The Flying Dutchman.

During the game, somebody had the idea to launch the hashtag #persieing on Twitter, for people to post photos of themselves posing in a similar position, with some great results. People around the world have joined in and posted photos on Twitter or Facebook. Planking is so 2009.

Flipbook of Van Persie’s goal

Stabilo (or their advertising agency perhaps) was inspired to create a fantastic flipbook version of the goal.

Land speed record for Arjen van Robben

Another flying Dutchman is Arjen van Robben. During the match against Spain he broke the record for the fastest footballer ever recorded, reaching a top speed of 37 km per hour (23 mph) over a short distance; at that speed he would have run 100 metres in 10.28 seconds. You can watch it here.

Football fashion and dressing up

Enough about the football, what about the clothes? Well, I have to admit I’m rather taken with the French team’s fuchsia pink (or maybe they’re bordeaux red) socks, and two different coloured football boots (pink and blue) seem to be a feature, too. According to the Independent, “Puma said the oddly coloured boots represent ‘the unshakable confidence of players who wear them, and evoke their potential to do the unbelievable.’ ” Either that, or they’re dressing in the dark!

The people who have the most fun during the tournament, though, are the fans and perhaps none more so than the Dutch fans, always difficult to miss, dressed as they are in vibrant orange, some more eccentrically than others. For just one moment during the Netherlands-Spain match, the world’s eyes were focused on the bizarre sight of Frau Antje, otherwise known as John Holl, a man from Wijchen who dresses up in the style of the Dutch dairy marketing board’s logo. This year he’s produced a charity record which is a perfect example of Dutch carnaval music and all proceeds will go to the charity Spieren voor Spieren (for research into neuromuscular diseases).

Messi the dog getting in on the act

The Dutch TV coverage on Nederland1 is being broadcast as a continuous programme throughout the evening, recorded in a studio which has been decorated like a living room. The presentation style is informal and various sportspeople and celebrities will be dropping in to fill in the gaps between the games and commentaries. To make it all seem that much more gezellig or homely, one of the stars is a friendly little long haired dachsund named Messi. “Who else can claim they have Messi in the studio every evening?” jokes one of the presenters, Henry Schut. As the Dutch name for a dachsund is a teckel, it has been suggested that they should have called the dog Tackle (which with a Dutch accent would sound just like teckel), but it’s easy to be wise in hindsight and the dog was already named after the famous Argentinian footballer. I am not at all sure of the added value of the dog, but occasionally it does something funny and whoever is speaking has to stop so the cameraman can capture the moment for the viewers at home. They must be remembering the phrase “Never work with children or animals.”

As my husband and sons will not be allowing me to watch anything else on TV for the next month or so, I may well be returning to this theme. Have you seen any weird and wonderful World Cup moments? I’d love to know, especially if they are orange-tinted. Hup, Holland, hup!

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