Ever since they won the World Cup in 1966, subsequent English sides have always faced the burden of living up to the expectations created by Bobby Moore’s side. The same was the case with the 2006 outfit, which went out in the quarterfinals. In the dissection of the sides performance, it was decided that one factor was the cause of the side’s exit — WAGs.
The term WAGs (wives and girlfriends) had first been recorded in 2002 (mentioned as Wag but also about the England football team) but it truly came into its own at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Based out of the sleepy Black forest spa town of Baden Baden, the WAGS glammed up the stadiums and provided copious fodder for the gossip columnists with their wild antics, couture clothes and column-inch worthy shopping sprees. They managed to squeeze in a few games as well.
The “queen of the WAGs” as one newspaper called her was Victoria Beckham — wife of captain David Beckham. Battling for supremacy was Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Cole (née Tweedy), who would later marry (reported under the headline ‘WAG weds’) Ashley Cole. Alex Gerrard, wife of Steve Gerrard, was named the “uber WAG”. A rising star was Coleen Rooney, (née Mcloughlin) who would be termed a “super WAG”. Carly Cole, wife of Joe Cole, was titled the “newest WAG on the block.”
While England’s campaign ended in disappointment, several WAGs would capitalise on their fame. When John Slade , father of Melanie Slade (girlfriend of Theo Walcott) was made mayor of Southampton, he was introduced as “about the most famous mayor this city has had in 790 years … He is the father of the girlfriend of a footballer.” Indeed the perfectly coiffed hair, massive sunglasses and large Birkin bags that made up the WAG look proved to be a significant fashion trend of the year — although ridiculed by some. When Coleen Rooney launched a line of beauty products, one magazine unkindly termed the perfume as “eau de WAG”.
The WAGs phenomenon has since gone global and the term is now used in other countries and for other sports as well. The England coaching establishment, however, has not been very keen on the WAG concept. In 2010, Fabio Capello laid down the law and restricted WAG visits to the training camp. The incumbent Roy Hodgson, however, has been a bit more understanding and WAGS will once again be making a comeback at the World Cup after an eight-year gap.
The 2014 edition sees a brand new English squad, and with it a new look WAG contingent. Of the Baden-Baden clique of 2006, only Coleen Rooney and Alex Gerrard would have packed their Louis Vuitton bags with their Jimmy Choos and Louboutins. However, this squad also features a catwalk model, reality TV star, glamour model, and even a psychologist. So while England may struggle to get out of perhaps the toughest group of the tournament, one can be assured the gattas belissimas (Portuguese equivalent of WAGs) will at least be making the headlines in Brazil.
— Jonathan Selvaraj
FIFA Ranking 10
Betting Ranking 8
ELO Ranking 6
Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge