Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Wed 7 June 2006

Place your bets

With the World Cup only two days away, the more financially ambitious amongst you may have already been tempted to have a flutter while the competition's on. Yet for those of you that think the only available options are to bet a couple of quid on Brazil winning outright or Michael Owen being top scorer, then you're very much mistaken.

A cursory look around the web brings forth all manner of different things to bet on during the World Cup, from the ubiquitous to the frankly mind-boggling.

As well as the usual bets on individual match results and group winners, there's also, as ever, a list of top goalscorers to choose from, but these days the breakdown of options is more extensive than ever before.

You can bet on the top goalscorer for Australia, the Ivory Coast or any other country for that matter. You can also bet on the highest scorer that plays his club football in the Premiership, Serie A or La Liga. And if you want to get really specific, try betting on the highest scoring Liverpool, Chelsea or Man United player.

But that's all a bit tame by 21st Century standards, to be honest. You can approach this whole gambling business from a somewhat different and even negative angle in 2006. PaddyPower and BetFred are offering you the chance to stake some reddies on which team will pick up the most cards during the tournament (Argentina being the favourites so far at 13/2), while SkyBet offer a selection of familiar names to choose from in the category 'First Player Cautioned For Diving'. You'll be wanting Didier Drogba at 8/1, if I'm not mistaken...

In fact when it comes to strange and ludicrous wagers, SkyBet really have lost the plot in a big way. They're offering odds of 33/1 on England being booted out of the World Cup due to rioting fans and 25/1 on Jens Lehman of Germany saving a penalty against England (huh, yeah, right...)

But the best bet they offer of all is for the amount of streakers you'll see during the entire competition. For a £5 bet, you'll win £75 if four of them turn up, but to be honest your winnings will be the last of your concerns at the time. You'll be too busy trying to remember how to instantly record programmes on your Sky+ box.

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