Xavi is one of four Barcelona players who are getting the "Simpsonized" treatment. (S. Lau/AP)
The world’s game has been referenced (and targeted) surprisingly frequently by America’s longest-running comedy series.
The Simpsons has crossed paths with Pelé, both Ronaldos (the Brazilian on the show and the Portuguese in a commercial) and, of course, Ariaga, Ariaga II and Bariaga, who played a part in that notorious 1997 Continental Soccer Association match which determined “once and for all which nation is the greatest on earth, Mexico or Portugal,” and set the stage for a riot that engulfed Springfield.
This spring, they’re at it again. The Simpsons and Fox have teamed up with several of the sport’s biggest clubs for a marketing and merchandising campaign that’s just a bit more ambitious than the time O Rei stopped by Springfield to hawk Crestfield Wax Paper. In addition, a World Cup-themed episode of the show will air on March 30.
Key players will be “Simpsonized” as part of the initiative. Last month, five Chelsea stars were given the unmistakable yellow tint and overbite, and Wednesday it will be Barcelona’s turn. Fox provided SI.com this preview of a “Simpsonized” Xavi Hernández, who’s the ideal player to hold it, hold it, hold it! Three of his FCB teammates will be unveiled Wednesday during Fox Sports 1’s broadcast of the Barcelona-Manchester City UEFA Champions League game. The show starts at 3 p.m. ET. "Simpsonized" Xavi is below:
In the upcoming Simpsons episode, Homer is named as a World Cup referee. But upon reaching Brazil, his integrity is tested by match fixers. The family’s last trip to Brazil came in 2002, when it was greeted by hotel bellhops who were juggling luggage like soccer balls.
Homer already has some officiating experience. While refereeing a 2007 youth soccer game, he red carded his own daughter for bad sportsmanship, tore of his shirt à la Brandi Chastain and threw up into a cone.
We’re assuming “Simpsonized” Xavi and his teammates will handle themselves better on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Homer will have to come to terms with the fact that in his show's 25th season, soccer has hit the American mainstream.