A World Cup souvenir manufacturer mixed up the president of the United States with a defender on England's national squad

Credit: Rex USA

Hey, how’d this mug end up on that mug?

English soccer fans hoping to pick up a commemorative set of mugs featuring the faces of the country’s World Cup squad received an unexpected surprise – the image of President Barack Obama where defender Chris Smalling should have been.

No, Obama wasn’t a last-minute substitution by English manager Roy Hodgson; the U.S. president lacks a “clear connection” to England and thus is ineligible to join the squad under FIFA regulations.

The souvenirs were produced by an unnamed British merchandising company which discovered the error after 2,000 mugs had already been produced. Ashamed, they shipped the Obama mugs to a surplus store Wholesale Clearance UK, which is now tasked with offloading them to the public.

The Dorset-based merchandiser blamed the mistake on one of their junior associates.

“They passed this onto the young, bright-eyed and bushy tailed new apprentice,” managing director Karl Baxter said in a statement. “The designs were proofed and signed off by [his] boss, who clearly had a heavy night with the lads playing poker and before he’d had his first vat of coffee the following morning.”

Wholesale Clearance previously took in 5,000 commemorative plates produced to celebrate the birth of a royal princess that didn’t happen in 2013. The company says the Obama mugs are selling like hotcakes.

English defender Chris Smalling, the man Obama replaced, has played zero World Cup minutes so far and has never won statewide (nor federal office in the U.S.).

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