It is called the Beautiful Game, after all. And beauty, as some would have us believe, is something that can be apprehended, measured, described. It is a pleasure we can hope to wrap our minds around or, in some cases, diagram. Not so much the sublime: those mysterious pokes through the fabric of the everyday that hurl us beyond awe and reason, that vast surge of feeling that delivers us heavenward for explanation. A brilliant counter-attack; a rhombus of one-touch passes: these are beautiful. Those Nike boots every player at the World Cup seems to be wearing, the ones that gradate, unnaturally and unreasonably, from a glowing orange heel to a deeply metrosexual, lavender poppy nose, a colorway that would make even the Creator above double-take? Sublime.
If there is a shared affection among the world's footballers, one that crosses the moats of faith and national temperament, it is their taste for flashy, oft-ridiculed, at times indescribably tinted boots. The one constant at this year's World Cup, besides the infobuzz of Vuvuzela and, more recently, shoddy refereeing, might be those engrossingly hideous new Nike Mercurials that weigh about as much as an empty soda can. They are the reason those little, feet-aflame men look extra-fast (or notably slow) as they cut across your television-sized pitch; they ensure that you can tell certain players apart from the others; they inspired one of the most elaborate and re-watchable commercials in quite some time. Each squad (the North Koreans included) has featured a few members with enough swagger to try and pull this bizarre new colorway off, with Portugal--captained by Mercurial-in-the-flesh captain Cristiano Ronaldo--the loudest advocates.