Jules Boykoff

Jules Boykoff has written about politics and sports for places like The Guardian, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Backpage Football, and The Nation. He represented the US Olympic Soccer Team in international competition and currently teaches political science at Pacific University in Oregon.

After a scintillating batch of round-of-sixteen matches, it’s time to announce the World Cup All-Hair Team.

The All-Hair Team Selection Committee deployed a meticulous, scientific rating system to assess the coiffures of the 736 players who made the voyage to Brazil. The committee considered four main criteria:

The It’s-More-Than-Hair Factor

An awe-inspiring coiffure is necessary but not sufficient. As anyone strutting down Copacabana Beach will tell you, playas gonna play. But to make the All-Hair Team, playas gotta play. You might have magical follicles, but if you’re riding the bench, you can’t become an All-Hair Team mensch.

The David-Beckham-Be-Damned Factor

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as being too handsome. If it’s obvious you’re spending more time on your hair than follicly-challenged FIFA President Sepp Blatter spends munching caviar in the backs of stretch limousines, then you’re trying too hard to make the squad. Classically handsome Romeos with standard-issue hairdos need not apply.

The Originality Factor

The faux-hawk was fresh at the 2010 World Cup, but it’s passé in 2014.

The Pragmatism Factor

Those who sacrifice vision on the altar of style deserve derision rather than tribute.

Without further ado, here are the selections!

Goalkeeper

Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)

With a floppy mop of hair that would make Vidal Sassoon drool with glee, Ochoa enjoyed a phenomenal World Cup, offering clutch play between the posts and a clutch of hair that makes wigs swoon and Rapunzel dance in Hair Heaven.

Defenders

Bacary Sagna (France)

An honorable mention selection for the 2010 World Cup All-Hair Team in South Africa, Sagna came to Brazil with something to prove. Donning golden braids that framed his face like a heart and snaked around his head into a thick ponytail, he supplied pinpoint swerving crosses that created numerous opportunities for his fellow Frenchmen.


Ecuador v France: Group E - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Danijel Pranjic (Croatia)

When Pranjic struts by, Croatian roosters look on with envy. Sporting a spiky wattle that juts from his dome, Pranjic did anything but waddle on the field. A tough man with a hairdo that positively crows masculinity.


Cameroon v Croatia: Group A - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

John Boye (Ghana)

Boye’s towering inferno of golden-flecked hair is a force of follicular conviction. A fierce defender who’d slide tackle his own grandmother if she were playing for the opposition, Boye brought toughness into Ghana’s backline.


Germany v Ghana: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Benoit Assou Ekotto (Cameroon)

It’s refreshing to see a footballer enjoy his game, and with a spectacular shock of fluffy love atop your head, how could you not sport a smile? (Unless, of course, you’re the teammate he headbutted.) The wide, supermodel-worthy hairband only adds to the glory.


Cameroon v Croatia: Group A - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Midfielders

Kyle Beckerman (United States)

Dreadlock Medusa meets Roy Keane at the great ankle butchery in the sky. An inspiration to trustafarians everywhere.

USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Raul Meireles (Portugal)

The Portuguese midfielder embodies the Yin and Yang of All-Hair Team mojo: hair with a high funk quotient along with compelling facial shag. The clincher is his beard, which, I expect to make a strong challenge for general excellence at the World Beard and Mustache Championships in Portland, Oregon, this fall.


Portugal Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup

Marouane Fellaini (Belgium)

If all goes wrong, Fellaini could always take a time machine back to 1971 and play in the American Basketball Association with Darnell “Dr. Dunk” Hillman and Julius “Dr. J” Erving under the moniker “Dr. Shincracker.” Another on-pitch tough-man, Fellaini is a frontrunner to top the tournament’s “most fouls committed” list.


Korea Republic v Belgium: Group H - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Valon Behrami (Switzerland)

Context matters. In buttoned-up Switzerland, Behrami’s hairstyle and tattoos are transgressions on par with dissing Swiss chocolate. Kudos to Behrami for staying true to the cause. Plus, he’s been a force in the Swiss midfield as well.


Argentina v Switzerland: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Forwards

Neymar (Brazil)

Neymar entered the tournament with a captivating coiffure—Flock of Seagulls spiked with a dash of Brazilian panache. As if acknowledging the need to take his hair game to the next level in order to ensure a slot on the All-Hair squad, Neymar added a celestial golden frost between the first and second matches. This intrepid move doubled as social critique, alluding to the fact that Brazil will always retain some symbolic gold that the ever-rapacious FIFA can never take away. I don’t care if it’s Neymarketing, it’s Neymaaahvelous stuff.


Brazil v Chile: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)

A powerful yet nimble force on the pitch, Gyan has shown flexibility off the field as well, refashioning his hairdo depending on the match. Bonus points for boldly dying his number into the side of his head.


Portugal v Ghana: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Coach

Miguel Herrera (Mexico)

Affectionately known as el Piojo (the Louse), Herrera skillfully shepherded Mexico into the second round with an attractive brand of soccer. Known for photobombing, Twitter selfies, and a knack for the wacky, he was described in the New York Times as “a joy machine without an off switch.” Herrera’s 1980’s-era hairdo brings to mind the glory days of Erik Estrada, when life was as simple as a down-the-center part adorned with glorious feathers.


Croatia v Mexico: Group A - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Jessi Wahnetah assisted with research for this story.

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