To the surprise of absolutely no one, the 2014 FIFA World Cup was the main draw this week, taking four slots. People appeared desperate to bone up on their trivia; checking not only this year's World Cup, but the last one. Even so, they still couldn't push Game of Thrones from the top ten. It will be interesting to see what happens come next week's season finale.
And it's off! As is custom, hosts Brazil played the opening match against Croatia. Given everything riding on their shoulders (you can't spend $11 billion on a sports event, sparking the rage of a sizeable portion of your population, and finish in the group stage), the team could have been better; they won (they are Brazil, after all) but opened with an own goal and fooled the ref with a rather obvious dive. Still, they did better than Cup-holders Spain, who were beaten 5–1 by the Netherlands in their first game and have since been knocked out, leading to some rather unforgiving headlines in the national papers.
Topics of purely British interest seldom make the traffic report; as English-speaking nations go, it lacks the numerical heft of the US, or even India. Even if you factor in the countries that share its pop culture, like Australia, you're unlikely to see numbers reach 100 million. So it's a mark of how beloved a comedic icon Rik Mayall was that his sudden and unexpected death on 9 June pushed him to the second spot. Curiosity about the nature of his death likely also played a role; Mayall was only 56, and, while his death is not suspicious, the initial post-mortem was inconclusive. Best known for his roles in 1980s comedy series such as The Young Ones, Blackadder and The New Statesman, his only notable Hollywood credit was the 1991 comedy Drop Dead Fred.
The broader article on the history of the competition may have been accessed by people looking for the long view, but in truth it was probably more to do with people looking for the more specific article above.
This article suddenly reappeared in the top 25 a few months ago after a long absence; it's always difficult to determine the reasons for the popularity of website articles (how many are simply misaimed clicks on the Google search list?) but there are at least two possibilities: first, it released its digital media player, Amazon Fire TV on April 2, and second, it is currently embroiled in a dispute with publisher Hachette that could decide whether book publishers even need to exist in the post-digital world.
The current World Cup has buoyed interest in the last one, with people doubtless looking for parallels, clues for upcoming matches, or omens. Oddly, Rik Mayall's death may have influenced views; he penned England's anthem for that competition, which has now reached #7 in the UK charts.