We’re a mere two days from the start of the 2006 World Cup, and in some parts of the globe, preperations are well underway to comisserate with and/or cash in on those who can’t bear to watch.

From the Independent’s Ian Herbert and Matthew Beard.

The small – and mainly female – minority who have no desire to distinguish a Mirzapour from a Schwarzer (or know that these are the Iranian and Australian goalkeepers, respectively) may now chat with each other through a number of websites, including worldcupwidowsclub.com and stoptheworldcup.co.uk.

The Worldcupwidowsclub site was formed by a group of women who were playing online bingo when they found, through their messageboards, that they were dreading the World Cup and the estrangement from their families which it brings.

The website already offers an excruciating taste of what the World Cup will mean for some families. It features stories of people such as Cathy Edwards, from Bootle, Liverpool, whose husband is hard of hearing and must turn up the volume for games. He also “shouts at the screen”, Mrs Edwards confides, “as if they can actually hear him”.

Jeanette Clunie of Edinburgh has her Staffordshire bull terriers to fear for, as much as herself. When her husband is “shouting and cheering” at the figures running around on his television screen the dogs “shake with fright”. Mrs Clunie adds that “it’s even worse when they lose” as “the poor things shoot out of the room and take cover”.

The Linthwaite House Hotel in the Lake District promises a free glass of champagne in apology if any staff member accidentally blurts out the f-word, and is lining up Bridget Jones’s Diary and Pretty Woman DVDs. The ” lifesaving” Kettering Park Hotel & Spa in Northamptonshire offers much the same in female luxury.

EasyJet is promoting women-only World Cup getaways to the Mediterranean island of Gozo. And the Swiss Tourist Board has gone for broke by promoting holidays for football widows in adverts featuring half-dressed men – including Mr Switzerland 2005 – leaning laconically against cows. “Dear girls, why not escape this summer’s World Cup to a country where men spend less time on football and more on you?” the advert states.

There’s bit a late roster change for Serbia & Montenegro. From Eurosport :

The son of the Serbia and Montenegro coach Ilija Petkovic, Dusan – at the centre of a row over nepotism following his controversial late selection for the World Cup squad – has pulled out of the World Cup after media pressure in the Balkan state.

Petkovic senior told Serbian media on the flight to Germany that he wanted to “put an end to an ordeal”.

“He couldn’t stand the pressure. There was a lot going against him and he didn’t want to put either the manager or the other players through the trouble,” team spokesman Aleksandar Boskovic told Belgrade’s Beta news agency.

(most of the photos of Dustin Petkovic available from Google Image Search are kind of drab, so you’ll have to settle for this photograph of Cobra Verde’s John Petkovic, instead)

There’s no truth to the rumor the younger Petkovic’s spot on the team will be taken by Koby Clemens.

(Jerry Grote doesn’t look bad for his age, but I really don’t think he has the requisite skill or experience to play for the U.S. National team)

After beating Angola, 1-0 in a closed-door exhibition on Monday (Charles Barkely, unavailable for comment), Bruce Arena claims he’s not decided upon his starting 11 for Monday’s match against the Czech Republic. Take your time, Bruce, if the Soccer Dog isn’t playing, you’ve already lost Gawker Media’s interest.