BRITPOP kings Blur once sang there must be more to life than stereotypes – but evidently, not at the World Cup finals.

I don’t know what happens to a normal football fan when they travel to a major tournament but I do know the fancy dress shops in Brazil must be doing a roaring trade.

There is nothing wrong with wearing your team’s shirt; in fact I’d say that is a must when you travel abroad. But some fans display a worrying readiness to prove their nationality, as if painting your face and wearing your team’s colours is not enough.

I don’t want to sound like a killjoy – I have just got to question how anyone manages to source a knight’s costume in the middle of the Amazon Jungle.

England’s fans are by no means the worst for it. Every four years, Dutch people start wearing clogs, Mexicans dig out their sombreros and any number of Scandinavian countries dust off their Viking helmets and start growing beards.

Some references make sense – I saw a few Argentine fans dressed as the Pope, for example.

But some are just plain weird. A group of Japanese fans went dressed as skittles to the Ivory Coast game, which has quite frankly scarred me for life.

Brazilians are complaining about the World Cup perpetuating their national stereotype of being football-obsessed, scantily clad beachgoers – but if they really want to change people’s minds, I’d have a word with the TV directors who seem to have an in-built radar to track the prettiest females in the crowd. “Look! It’s a girl watching football! Stare in awe!”

Both ITV and the BBC have gone for a boiled down samba track for the intro to their coverage – and while Steve Wonder’s effort for the Beeb edged it for me when I first heard it, I’m now changing my mind. I’d now gladly have both tunes erased from my memory altogether.

While we’re on the subject of TV coverage – I have to give great credit to Thierry Henry, Clarence Seedorf, Neil Lennon, Glenn Hoddle and Rio Ferdinand, who have shone as the outstanding pundits in the first few days of the tournament.

Some big names have struggled – Fabio Cannavaro, Juninho and Phil Neville to name a few – but four of the new names on the circuit have definitely had something to say.

Hoddle looks a new man after sweating his own bodyweight while covering England’s two friendlies in Miami.

But then they do say genius is 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent perspiration.


Ilesy's TV heaven: Thierry Henry and Clarence Seedorf struggling to contain their contempt for Robbie Savage on the BBC sofa on Sunday.


Ilesy's TV hell: Jonathan Pearce flipping his lid after goal-line technology was used for the first time. After that the former voice of Robot Wars started to call imaginary goals.