Iceland was going up against one of the most recognized teams in the world, whose players are all lavishly paid stars in the English Premier League. But an incredible, gusty performance by the Icelanders, some of whom are journeymen who ply their trade in England's lower leagues, won the day.
The defeat — a seismic disaster for England — almost immediately led to gallows humor on social media, with many reflecting on the nation's earlier exit from Europe. On Thursday, a majority of voters in Britain, especially in England and Wales, voted to leave the European Union, a decision that has already degraded Britain's credit rating, sent the pound to historic lows and cratered the U.K.'s stock market. (To be sure, Wales is still in the tournament and will take on Belgium in the quarterfinals.)
The Brexit jokes were already beginning before the match started:
Starting shortly: A soccer game between an isolated island nation whose banking industry is in big trouble, and Iceland.— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) June 27, 2016
A petition for a rematch — a play on an existing online petition for a second referendum on the E.U. that has received millions of signatures — started going around.
But it wasn't enough, and Iceland came back from a 1-0 deficit to win the match. The online schadenfreude was relentless, including these tweets from whistleblowing operation Wikileaks.
More gags about Iceland, which faced dire financial crisis less than a decade ago, and its advantage over an another island nation:
This only the second most embarrassing thing England has done this week— James Morris (@JamesDMorris) June 27, 2016
The English really REALLY don't want to have anything to do with Europe.— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) June 27, 2016
There was mirth about the grim surge in racial abuse toward Poles living and working in Britain:
And the complicated political wrangling the vote for Brexit has triggered in Britain:
There was a pun on a hapless English midfielder's name ...
... and jokes about Viking invasions:
Finally, Donald Tusk, current president of the European Council, the E.U.'s executive body, buried the dagger into England's forlorn European adventure.
UK-Iceland 1-2. Winter is coming.— Donald Tusk (@donaldtusk) June 27, 2016