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Globe and Mail columnist Derek DeCloet (right) gets a leg up for the ball as he tries to defend the goal during tryouts for the Toronto Football Club at The Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ont., December 18, 2006. (Yvonne Berg/Yvonne Berg for The Globe and Mail)
Globe and Mail columnist Derek DeCloet (right) gets a leg up for the ball as he tries to defend the goal during tryouts for the Toronto Football Club at The Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ont., December 18, 2006. (Yvonne Berg/Yvonne Berg for The Globe and Mail)

Derek DeCloet

If companies were World Cup teams Add to ...

It's called the World Cup. It ought to be called the World's Distraction.



Through the magic of streaming Internet video (thank you, Al Gore), it's now possible for millions of fanatics, casual observers of the sport, and professional procrastinators to watch soccer at work, while not appearing to watch soccer at work. Not that any of us would actually do that, since we've all been listening to the admonitions of Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney to become more productive.

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All we're saying is, there are 62 matches still to be played, which is 5,580 minutes of the beautiful game, plus injury time, extra time, penalty kicks and time added by the referee to account for the time that Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo spends rolling around in the grass, pretending he has just been shot in the leg by an opposing midfielder. Most of this soccer will be played during working hours in Canada, which means that even if you're not watching, chances are your shiftless co-workers will be.

South Africa fans arrive for the Opening Ceremony ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group A match between South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City Stadium.
The 10 best World Cup commercials Watch and vote for your favourite

But what if you've been so focused on the bottom line - on being productive - that you haven't had time to brush up on what's going on between the touchlines? We've got you covered.



South African soccer fans cheer during the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.

(* World Cup odds as posted by Bodog.ca)

(** Price-earnings ratio based on estimated earnings provided by Bloomberg)



Germany equals the Royal Bank of Canada : Ruthlessly efficient, joyless, and ridiculously competent. They always have a few detractors, but when it matters, they seem to perform better than almost everyone else.

Odds of winning the World Cup*: 16 to 1

Stock price: $53, down 6 per cent this year

Price-earnings ratio**: 12

Portugal equals Lululemon . Pretty boy striker Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn't look out of place wearing a pair of tight yoga pants. Female soccer fans swoon at the thought. But a brave investor would see a short-selling opportunity in something that seems overhyped.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 28 to 1

Stock price: $41.76 (U.S.), up 38.7 per cent this year

Price-earnings ratio: 36

Brazil equals Google - powerful, creative and slightly scary. It's not enough to win; you have to do it with elegance, too. Bet against them at your peril.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 4 to 1

Stock price: $488.50 (U.S.), down 21 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 18

Spain equals Apple . During the 1990s, they went from one disappointment to another. Now, they're at the top of the game. But the expectations are massive. Apple investors and fans of star striker Fernando Torres would be wise to brace for a letdown.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 4 to 1

Stock price: $253.51 (U.S), up 20.3 per cent this year

Price-earnings ratio: 19

Mexico equals BCE . For a while, it looked like they wouldn't even qualify for the tournament, so they got a better manager. What a difference that made.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 66 to 1

Stock price: $31.28, up 7.9 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 11



Uruguay equals General Motors. Once they were kings (the country won two of the first four World Cups), then went into a long decline. Recently, things have been looking better, but hopes are extremely modest - as they should be.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 125 to 1

Stock price: not applicable (private company)



Microsoft doesn’t get much love from Wall Street, but it should, according to a couple of John Reese's models.

Italy equals Microsoft . Only one country can claim more World Cup success. But winning can make you fat and happy. The wealthy, highly-touted Italians seem a bit too pleased with themselves to repeat as champions, and are vulnerable to hungrier opponents.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 14 to 1

Stock price: $25.66 (U.S.), down 15.8 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 13

France equals Goldman Sachs . Suave and successful, they're dogged by critics who accuse them of cheating their way to the top.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 20 to 1

Stock price: $135.64 (U.S.), down 19.7 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 7

Argentina equals Research in Motion . A powerhouse group that possesses an impressive collection of talent (including the world's best player, 22-year-old striker Lionel Messi), the main question mark is whether they can overcome fierce competition under a famous, but distraction-prone, manager.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 6 to 1

Stock price: $61.39, down 13.8 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 11

Bombardier Inc.'s CRJ-1000 jet

England equals Bombardier , but with paparazzi. The new boss is trying, but it's awfully hard to repeat the glories of the distant past.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 8 to 1

Stock price: $4.62, down 3.7 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 13

United States equals Disney . Why? Because French snobs consider it irritating, trashy, unrefined and just wish it would go away. And also because defender Carlos Bocanegra has movie-star looks.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 50 to 1

Stock price: $34.24 (U.S.), up 6.2 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 17

The Toronto Stock Exchange Broadcast Centre in Toronto.

Slovenia equals the TSX Venture Exchange . Few know anything about it. Even fewer care.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 200 to 1

Venture composite index: 1,460, down 4 per cent



The Netherlands equals Rogers Communications . The stylish Dutch breezed through the World Cup qualification rounds hardly breaking a sweat. Rogers cruised to the top of the wireless industry in similar fashion. In each case, we'll soon know the truth: how much was simply because the competition was weak?

Odds of winning the World Cup: 9 to 1

Stock price: $36.87, up 12.8 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 13

Australia equals WestJet Airlines . They're plucky underdogs who built themselves from the ground up and are sentimental favourites. But they're still a long way from being able to go toe-to-toe with the world's biggest and best - nor do they expect to.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 150 to 1

Stock price: $12.19, down 1.6 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 13

Switzerland equals Sun Life Financial . Yeah, sure, it's a cliché - the buttoned-up Swiss, a nation of bankers and actuaries. Sometimes clichés exist because they're true. The team will be solid, organized, and by the end of the tournament, even the players' moms will have trouble remembering anything they did.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 200 to 1

Stock price: $29.89, down 1.2 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 11

North Korea equals BP . And it's hard to know which one is less popular with Barack Obama.

Odds of winning the World Cup: 2,000 to 1

Stock price: $33.97 (U.S.), down 41.4 per cent

Price-earnings ratio: 6

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