It’s all about the World Cup in Malta, but we don’t even have a participating team

Posted on June 26, 2010

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Like the vast majority of women, I don’t really see the point of football, so it was an unforgivable mistake on my part to leave the quietude of my little village in Switzerland and go for a week-long trip back to my home country Malta, where (in retrospect) inevitably, for the following 7 days, I had to sit through cafe chats and restaurant visits with the latest game blaring as loudly as humanely possible to endure in such a context. Survival is though in this country: Do not place a flat screen in your establishment and you’re guaranteed a place so empty that you’ll probably see the occasional tumbleweed rolling past. Truth be told, the male section of the Maltese population only ventures into restaurants in the first place (instead of in the more booze-loaded, foul-mouth-friendly bars) so as to shut up their wives’ persistent demands to go out, even if the female contingent knows perfectly well that while the game is in full swing on the screen behind them, their husbands/partners would probably agree to hand over their credit cards for a shopping spree with ‘the girls’ and unflinchingly eat e serving of rocks should they be placed before them. Here is a picture of two such specimens:

 

And here’s the next important issue. What do you do when your country’s national team hasn’t qualified for the world cup games in South Africa, or indeed, when your country’s team is so incompetent that in the history of the world cup it has never qualified, and not even come close to qualifying? You do what the Maltese do – you don’t think much about it and pick and support a team which really has a chance of winning. As a Maltese, the team you choose to support pretty much depends on your social background. Some are relentless Italian fans, a result of our geographical and cultural closeness to the boot-shaped country. Many others opt to sport the English flag, acknowledging a strong historical tie because of the fact that Malta was a colony of the English for about 200 years. Then you will find the people who make their pick without much logic, the guys who support Brazil because…well, they have been known to win quite often and people like to side with the winning team.

Malta could not be a more football-friendly country. To quench the thirst for venues where to enjoy all the matches, a special World Cup Village  on Manuel island, a haven in an otherwise sea of traffic, has been set up for the true connoisseurs as well as their accompanying women who watch and claim to like football, but would have no clue how to explain the concept of an offside.

After a week of hearing the sound of distant, tell-tale honking, of coming across giant screens where I’d least be accepting them (think a cool Arab lounge with a screeching trumpet soundtrack) and of seeing my poor father have a near heart attack after each mediocre Italian match, I returned to the altogether more posed Switzerland, where honking after your favourite team wins will get you a fine, as will positioning decorative flags on your car in anything but a straight position. Since coming back the unthinkable has happened. Italy did not qualify for the next round, breaking the heart of my father who claimed that the world cup was officially over for him. The English supporters in Malta, since time immemorial the arch-nemeses of the Italians, will have a bit of fun abusing the already shattered spirits of the latter. The streets will grow quieter, a whole slice of the population left without a team to support. The Brazilian minority remains as yet silent, awaiting the moment when they’ll break into an awkward Maltese version of the samba, knowing secretly that THEY will win.

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Posted in: Malta