You've cast your group stage vote in the World Hair Cup, right? If not, do so immediately—the world needs to know which hair will dominate. I've also set up a special URL just for the occasion, so if you tell people about it—or, dare I suggest, set up a betting bracket for your office?—you can just direct them to WorldHairCup.com.
So given that 2014 marks the inaugural World Hair Cup, it's understandable that the Fédération Internationale de Hair Association (FIHA) ran into some unexpected issues during group stage. (Hey, it took FIFA a couple of tries to figure out they should hold qualifying rounds to thin out the competition, so forgive us.) Two things FIHA did not consider when compiling the ballots for group stage:
1) Between-game hair changes. Case study: Neymar's hair is definitively remarkable, but he really upped the ante between the June 13 Brazil-Croatia match and the June 17 Brazil-Mexico match with his dye job:
Brazil-Croatia, June 13
Brazil-Mexico, June 17
Neymar was the most-discussed example of the between-match switcheroo, but he wasn't alone: Honduran defender Brayan Beckeles went sunny-side-up between taking on France and the match with Ecuador:
Honduras-France, June 15
Honduras-Ecuador, June 20
The question for voters in The World Hair Cup then becomes this: Is a between-games hair change remarkable enough to up a team's Hair Power Index (HPI)? After all, Neymar took the time between matches to frost his hair but then couldn't be bothered to score against Mexico, so clearly he thinks it's remarkable. To answer the question, we turn to the WHC bylaws: "Only the hairstyles sported during game play of the FIFA World Cup 2014 may be considered. Players’ hair history may not be considered for the 2014 WHC." Thus, both the "before" hair and the "after" hair may be considered in hair remarkability—yet the change in and of itself does not factor into hair remarkability. Think of it as a zen koan.
It's worth noting that in both the case studies given above, the dye job was inversely correlated with superior game play—Brazil, widely considered the favorite to win the whole shebang, drew with Mexico, while Honduras lost to Ecuador 2-1. We at FIHA are experts on hair remarkability, not soccer mechanics. But still, we're just sayin'.
2) The bench. Now, the rules of The World Hair Cup clearly state that all team members on the official roster may be considered when determining a team's HPI. But it's near-impossible to truly tell how remarkable a player's hair really is until they've gotten some time in play. For example, when not in motion, David Silva of Spain has fairly unremarkable hair, unless by "remarkability" you mean "resemblance to a Beatles wig":
But put the midfielder on the pitch and his hair becomes remarkable:
So then what do we do about players on the bench? To demonstrate how crucial this question is, let's turn to Argentina. When putting together the voting ballot for the WHC Group Stage, FIHA considered Argentina's hair to be merely average in remarkability.
Argentina, in game play vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina June 15:Average hair remarkability.
But six days later, in the 76th minute of the match against Iran, coach Alejandro Sabella brought on one of the most truly remarkable players in the 2014 World Hair Cup: Rodrigo Palacio.
Rodrigo Palacio: Extraordinary hair remarkability.
Yes, that's a rattail, and yes, rattails are highly fucking remarkable. (Remember, the WHC is based on hair remarkability, not good hair.) Yet the FIHA board member responsible for putting together the ballots was unaware of Palacio's remarkable hair until well after the ballots had been distributed (get your group stage ballot here). Argentina's HPI suffers as a result, and Argentina may well lose out to teams that may ultimately be less deserving. But that's the game, people. Even the beautiful game can get ugly.
The end fallout: Voters may consider the hair on the bench, and bench hair is factored into a team's HPI, but remarkable hair that never gets on the pitch may not be the deciding factor of any vote. Let's use forward Jozy Altidore as a metaphor: The U.S. A. is seen as a threat in large part because of him, but his injury kept him from being a factor in the Portugal game. (This also brings up the question of what to do about hair injuries, which FIHA will consider on a case-by-case basis.)
Reminder: Group Stage voting is open until Thursday, June 26, at which point the top two teams from each group will progress to the Hair Group of 16. Cast your ballot now!