The Brain-Parasites of World Cup-Winners

WTF-Read of the day: Gewinner der Weltmeisterschaft weisen häufiger einen Befall mit dem Gehirnparasiten Toxoplasma gondii auf, dessen Lebenszyklus den Amygdala im Gehirn befällt und alle acht Mannschaften der diesjährigen WM stammen aus Ländern mit erhöhten Toxoplasma gondi-Werten. Erfolgreiche Fußballer sind also von Gehirnparasiten gesteuerte Zombies und das ist kein Witz.

In the knockout round of this year's tournament, eight out of eight winners so far have been the teams whose countries had higher rates of Toxo infection. If we go back to the 2006 World Cup, seven out of eight knockout-round winners could be predicted by higher Toxo rates. The one exception to the rule was Brazil's defeat of Ghana, a match between two nations that each have very high rates. (Aside from having the winningest team in World Cup history, Brazil has quite a few cases of Toxo: Two out of three Brazilians are infected.)

It gets better. Rank the top 25 FIFA team countries by Toxo rate and you get, in order from the top: Brazil (67 percent), Argentina (52 percent), France (45 percent), Spain (44 percent), and Germany (43 percent). Collectively, these are the teams responsible for eight of the last 10 World Cup overall winners. Spain, the only one of the group never to have won a cup, is no subpar outlier—the Spaniards have the most World Cup victories of any perpetual runner-up.

Landon Donovan Needs a Cat – Could a brain parasite found in cats help soccer teams win at the World Cup? (via /.)