The Tech Industry Goes to the World Cup

Some of the biggest names in technology, all dressed up in soccer kits.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
Shutterstock/Stephen Sauer

As we hurtle towards the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, here’s a look at some major tech players, along with their international soccer analogues. Just in case you were trying to decide whom to root for, or something.

RELATED: 5 techie World Cup predictions

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Microsoft = England

This one’s easy. England think they invented the whole game, had a huge triumph years ago that they’ve been riding ever since, and have consistently disappointed lately. Plus, even the home fans don’t like them very much. Do the math.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
Shutterstock/Stephen Sauer

Google = Brazil

Brazil is as identified with soccer as Google is with the modern technology sector. There’s no bigger superpower out there. But just as the “don’t be evil” slogan is being taken less and less seriously, Brazil’s samba football has given way to something a little bit more prosaic and less pleasant. Sure, they’ll probably win it all – but they just don’t have the flair and appeal they used to.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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HP = The Netherlands

Oh, Holland. A long-standing powerhouse with more than enough firepower to reach the pinnacle of the game, but always derailed by conflict among managerial staff and players, and poor performances in the clutch. HP’s well-detailed executive controversies have nothing on the ill-will among many in the Dutch camp. It’s simultaneously amazing and completely unsurprising that they’ve never won the Cup.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Dell = France

Another fallen titan, though this one may be on the rise again. After making the big time with their first – and so far, only – win in 1998, the loss in the contentious 2006 final presaged a farcical meltdown in 2010. Having stayed out of the limelight for a time, however, France could easily pull it together for a deep run, without the weight of expectation on their shoulders, much like Dell’s recent retreat into private ownership.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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IBM = Germany

Stodgy. Reliable. Successful. Unspectacular. At least, that’s what they USED to be like – but with a new generation of dazzling young stars coming to prominence, the Germans have kept their powerhouse status while adding some forward-thinking flair to their arsenal. Similarly, IBM has managed to reinvent itself to keep up with changes in business technology, turning heads with new tech like Watson, and keeping the truism about “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” alive. Nobody ever looked silly betting on Germany at big tournaments, either.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
Shutterstock/Stephen Sauer

Apple = Spain

The Spaniards have been wildly successful of late, having won a pair of European Championships to go with their 2010 World Cup. And they’ve done it playing their own unique style of elegant, metronomic, quick-passing soccer, dubbed tiki-taka. Critics say, however, say that tiki-taka is getting a little stale, and highlight the increasing age of Spain’s core. But hey, the iPhone hasn’t changed much, either.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Samsung = Argentina

Despite being blessed with an ridiculous number of gifted players – including the world’s best, Lionel Messi – Argentina has struggled, of late, to forge all of its lavishly talented parts into a unified whole. It’s like Samsung’s approach to product marketing – release a ton of vaguely related and occasionally overlapping gizmos and see which one sticks.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
Shutterstock/Stephen Sauer

Instagram = Belgium

Soccer hipsters have already anointed Belgium as the next big thing in the international game – and on the surface, why not, given the young talents that are tearing up professional leagues around the world? But jumping on the bandwagon for a team that’s never actually done much in a major tournament is a little like spending $1 billion on a company that’s never made a profit.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Yahoo = Ivory Coast

There are a ton of great ingredients here, so why does the eventual dinner usually disappoint? Ivory Coast consistently has some of the deepest and most experienced squads of any African team, yet they’ve never made it out of the group stages. Ever since Google became a big deal, Yahoo hasn’t wowed anybody, either.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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BlackBerry = Greece

Greece’s shock win at the 2004 European Championships stands in for BlackBerry’s brief star turn (as Research In Motion) in the tech world, but the prospects for both are, in a word, bleak. The Greeks can’t score and BlackBerry can’t recover.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Red Hat = USA

Red Hat, as an open-source company, goes about its business a little differently than most – just like the U.S., which is traditionally not a soccer powerhouse. Yet gains in both cases have been slow but steady, and the futures appear bright.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Twitter = Japan

Twitter’s the new company that really made it, becoming deeply integrated into the tech world’s firmament in a way that most social media startups never do. The World Cup features hot new teams, from time to time, but Japan’s carved out its own niche, having made it into every World Cup since 1998 and appeared in the group stages twice.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
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Salesforce = Portugal

Not quite top-tier, but not far off, either, Portugal and Salesforce are both big players in their own rights – and both are led by a major ego, in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo and Marc Benioff, respectively.

2014 World Cup in Brazil
Shutterstock/Stephen Sauer

Cisco = Italy

Another somewhat stodgy but consistently successful pairing, Italy’s triumph at the 2006 World Cup was followed by a completely disastrous effort in 2010, in which they finished at the bottom of their group, behind New Zealand. Ouch. The run to the finals of Euro 2012, however, shows that there’s plenty of fight left in Italy, just as Cisco has largely managed to fend off challenges to its dominant market share.

Staff Writer Jon Gold would like to remind everyone, again, that Arsenal won the FA Cup. Email him at jgold@nww.com and get at him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.