Imagine a future in which anti-aging technology and outright corruption make it possible for today’s tyrants to become tomorrow’s national team captains
2018 World Cup, Russia
Name: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (nickname “Putinbauer”)
Goals: 373 (Putin issued a formal decree giving himself the goals in 2017)
Hobbies: Serial Prime Minister/President of Russia, glad-handing politicians and oligarchs, kissing bellies, persuasion, judo, hiding things. The usual.
Road to 2018: His improbable rise from novice to captain of Russia’s 2018 Super-Team is unique in the soccer world. He will be the oldest player to appear in a World Cup by 23 years—a feat made even more impressive by the fact that his only exposure to soccer prior to 2014 was infrequent involvement with match-fixing. His aggressive foreign policy led to Russia’s annexation of several Eastern European nations, augmenting the Russian player pool and earning Putinbauer the admiration of his Super-Countrymen. Despite his formidable natural attributes, he underwent a series of controversial gene therapy and stem cell treatments to address aging issues, and he now sleeps in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. His diet consists of raw horse placenta, deer antler porridge, and salads with seasonal vegetables. His only contribution to Russia’s World Cup qualification was pistol-whipping a concessions guy for allegedly short-changing him on the cotton candy he purchased for his adopted niece. A formal review of the incident revealed that the worker had given Putinbauer correct change. He was executed nonetheless.
2018 World Cup, Russia
Name: Silvio Berlusconi (nickname “Scones”)
Position: Target Forward
Club: AC Milan
Hobbies: Politics, skinny-dipping, posing for black and white photography, underage women.
Road to 2018: Berlusconi would be the oldest player to appear in a World Cup, but publicly disavowed his age in 2016 and had 7 years legally subtracted so that Putinbauer would technically be older. Following Italy’s embarrassing World Cup performance in Brazil, Scones announced he would postpone his long-held tyrannical aspirations to restore Azzurri pride. He moved into the dormitory at the Milanello training facility and began “eating more sensibly,” according to a physio who refused to speak on the record. The Guardian’s Serie A correspondent described him as “a very tan, broken-down Luca Toni wandering in circles almost always in an offside position.” His lone goal was a penalty taken against Andorra whose goalkeeper was hit with a projectile during Scones’ run-up. The referee did not see the object and refused to force him to re-take the penalty. Incidentally, the referee was later deeded Berlusconi’s Lake Como residence.
2022 World Cup, Australia
Name: Kim Jong-un (nickname “Uninho”)
Clean Sheets: 1* (match was abandoned after cattle stampede left Solomon Islands with too few players to continue)
Club: Real Kim Jong
Hobbies: Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Greek yogurt smuggling, counterfeiting shake-weights, Google Street View, foiling biographies and assassination attempts (he believes they are the same thing), purging of all varieties.
Religion: 8th Day Unimism (a type of anti-imperialism with elements of voodoo)
Twitter: @KimJongNumberUn (purchased from kid living in parents’ basement once account crossed 500,000 follower threshold)
Road to 2018: Uninho’s journey began in his private study when his butler, who was also the national team’s starting goalkeeper at the time, lost his hands in a “freak fireplace accident.” Uninho is said to have forged special gloves from the ashes. He consolidated three clubs in North Korea’s Highest Class Football League to form Real Kim Jong and appointed himself captain. Too chubby to play any other position, Uninho insisted on wearing his special gloves and commanding Chollima from the rear. In World Cup qualification, North Korea conceded more goals than any other country in its group, finishing third. However, a doping scandal led to South Korea and Saudi Arabia being disqualified, sending Uninho’s boys to the finals in Australia.