It's the Mona Messi of World Cup haircuts

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 11:06 02/07/2014

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Patriotic fans are going to lengths long and short to support their national teams at the World Cup.

In the stands, or on the beaches of Brazil, even miles away in their own countries, supporters are kitting themselves out in crazy outfits to spur their side on.

Among them is Texas-based Argentinian fan Vincent Hernandez.

Ahead of Argentina's clash with Switzerland, Hernandez went in to the barbers for a haircut.

Far from asking for your average wash and trim, he had a remarkable likeness of Argentine maestro Lionel Messi cut into the back of his head by hair artist and master barber Rob Ferrel.

Meanwhile, as Rio de Janeiro remains the centre of all things football for another fortnight, the fan-fest on Copacabana has transformed the beach into a near-24-hour party.

No longer are thongs, bikinis and boardshorts the fashion of the sand, but jerseys, flags and other football tops.

The city is awash with football jerseys from across the world, and after a fortnight some have become fashion statements. Others are now regarded as being as uncool as wearing Ugg boots in public.

The widespread act of shirt swapping has compounded the social acceptance of one jersey over another, creating an unofficial currency among fans.

Here is a look at what's hot and what's not for the final fortnight of the greatest show on earth.

WHAT'S HOT:

Colombia: So far they have the team, the player and the fans of the tournament, so it is only natural that they have the most in-demand jersey as well. Every city they go to, Colombians travel in such numbers and never stop dancing, singing and partying in town squares. Their infectious vibe makes their jersey the must-have on the beaches of Rio.

Costa Rica: Los Ticos arrived in Brazil just happy to be here, but now have genuine reason to celebrate, having reached the quarter finals. They've captured the imagination of all watching the cup, and their jersey offers great social value on the ground.

Brazil: The Brazil jersey, flag, hat, shirt or for that matter, anything, have been the garment of choice of the locals, but it's the foreigners who are also jumping in to get their items. They don't know much Portuguese other than ''cerveja'' and ''obrigado'', but what isn't there to love about this year's host nation? The locals have been friendly, the atmosphere amazing and the environment superb. To many travellers, it is the perfect souvenir.

Japan: A World Cup flop, but the Blue Samurai are out in force. Brazil hosts one of the largest Japanese diasporas which has made this jersey popular. Stories of their warm, polite and fun fans travelled quick, with reports that large sections stayed back after games to help clean stadiums. This respect further perpetuated their popularity.

Australia: The team didn't win a game, their fans are drunk, loud and often brash, but for some reason the locals still love them. It's been nearly a week since the Socceroos left Brazil, but the Aussies remain in numbers and are still as popular as ever. The gutsy performance of the team didn't go unnoticed, while the punters' ability to party non-stop has been fondly looked upon in the capital of carnival.

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Croatia: The famous chequered shirt is well sought-after by Brazilians. There's no obvious reason, as Croatia didn't have the best tournament and fans didn't travel en-masse. Perhaps it's simply the aesthetics that make this unique jersey a popular trade request.

ACQUIRED TASTES

USA: Due to non-football reasons, South Americans aren't always welcoming towards Americans, but the swarm of loud, vibrant and, at times comically dressed USMNT (United States men's national football team), supporters have made giant strides in changing that. Jersey swaps aren't common, perhaps because the Yanks don't really want to part with theirs, but Brazil is embracing Americans and so too are many other travellers.

The Netherlands: There is a growing fear among South American fans that the biggest threat from Europe is The Netherlands and, stemming from this, the Dutch have respect among the locals. However, their lack of humility following very slender wins over Australia and Mexico has not been well received by opponents. The theatrics of Arjen Robben have also been frowned upon, but the Dutch look to remain in Brazil until mid-July, so the Oranje colours will remain in sight.

Germany: The team isn't loved by many, but is respected by all. Their fans' jovial presence eases the disinterest of others, and a jersey of the national team is hardly unpopular.

Iran: A disappointing campaign, but a valiant effort against Argentina earned the respect of many. The passion and customary dress of many fans further endeared them to others so much so that jersey exchanges have been made pre-game.

NON-QUALIFIED NATIONS

Canada, Jamaica, Sweden, New Zealand, Lebanon, Panama and Venezuela. These are just some of the many spotted in fan zones as proof this Cup is about more than 32 nations. They have to support other teams in the finals, but their jerseys have been great conversation starters and the more obscure, the better.

THE BARGAIN BIN

Greece: A strong showing on the field, but the Greeks offered little value in or around the stands. They seemed disinterested in joining in with the festive Colombians before their opening match and throughout the cup most have looked more preoccupied with getting in and out of the venue rather than socialising.

Italy: Their disappointment was rejoiced in Brazil, as locals enjoyed watching a traditional football rival stumble in their own backyard. The Azzurri did little to please the neutrals this cup with a dull finale and their fans' presence has been out of sight in the major cities.

Portugal: Former colonial rulers of the host nation, their early exit was met with raucous cheers of ''eliminado'' (eliminated) by local fans. They celebrated further at the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo holding back tears.

Uruguay: In typical Uruguayan fashion, the Celeste fans embraced the Luis Suarez jokes and even beat others to the punchline, but their striker's digestion of Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder tainted the image of his nation. Sadly few want to trade jerseys with them simply due to his act.

Neymar Jr: It is becoming the Ed Hardy of football jerseys. Already tacky and overproduced, cheap knock-offs are available on every corner and the football intelligence of those wearing one is brought into question.

Spain: The world champions, if we can still call them that, have bore the brunt of jokes from all this cup, and taunts have only been ended by their swift departure.

Argentina: It is telling that many Argentines in Brazil are choosing to wear their club colours around town instead the famous blue and white strips. Argentina is never popular in Brazil, but this month they couldn't be more poorly received. In the eyes of the locals, whatever Colombians are, Argentines are the opposite. They are not just happy to be there, or to win the cup, but are determined to knock Brazil out of the cup. This sense of rivalry is at the forefront of their demeanour and large hordes of fans, the biggest in Brazil, have been closely guarded by riot police. Scuffles with Brazilian fans have not been rare.

France: Their style of play is alluring and their results have been admirable, but despite all their achievements thus far, they're still unpopular with most. Brazilians haven't forgiven them for the 1998 and 2006 World Cups. That said, the sight of couples laying together on Copacabana Beach draped in a French flag has been common.

- Stuff

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