Two whole days without World Cup?! The first couple matches of the Quarter Finals begin today, but for the past couple days a few of us around the AP bunker have been experiencing ridiculous withdrawals, having the same prediction conversations over and over again, glancing compulsively at the clock around both 10:00am and 2:30pm despite there being no games airing, etc.  We’re stuck with seeking out and soaking up as much peripheral World Cup information as we can.  Pop quiz: Cuba, who hasn’t fielded a World Cup team since 1938, roots hard for a particular South American side; which country is it, and why?  [answer at the end of the article]

In doing so, we came across an interesting bit of vegan news from PETA: several soccer (read: football) superstars have chosen to wear non-leather cleats in the Cup, including Brazil’s Robinho, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Javier Mascherano of Argentina.  Whether or not the ten players listed made the synthetic-fiber choice due to animal rights principles remains to be seen (let us know if you dig up any conclusive info on them!), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction toward the goal of all-vegan footwear for everyone.

Of course, isn’t there always a dark, ominous cloud looming behind that frail, silver lining?  Unfortunately, nine of the ten shoes are made by Nike (Umbro was purchased by Nike in 2008) and the last is made by Adidas, both of which also produce a universe of environmentally and ethically destructive clothing and equipment; one need not search long to bump into any number of controversies surrounding them.  Who will be the first to unveil a vegan, sweatshop-free, eco-friendly soccer cleat? C’mon, step up, Ronaldo!  Put your money where your pretty face is!

[Quiz answer: Argentina.  Why?  Argentinian-born El Che (Guevara), of course!]

-Jeremy Pearson