World Cup Mania

Just when women were about to switch back on their television sets and get comfortable after the viewing spectacle that is the premiership, then the World Cup arrives on our shores, takes hold of every sane man, gay and straight, and gives us all a reason to spend hours in the pub or at home in front of the TV cheering on just whoever the fuck we want to. We are doing our bit for world relations, our bit for world peace and their can be no finer city to experience it in than London.

Being from Manchester it is not easy for me to stand behind those words, but alas they are true. You see for me, the World Cup is more than just a football competition; it is the chance to get to know and learn about other countries, other cultures, and other ways to celebrate a goal! And in London we have the biggest multicultural mix in the world. Guaranteed that no matter what match you are watching, there will be a bar somewhere in this city filled to the brim of Slovenians or Paraguayans or whoever is playing, cheering their little pants off. That is what makes this city so wonderful to be in at this time, the chance of meeting people form entirely different cultures is so high that any trip into the West end alone becomes like a trek across the whole of Europe and the Middle East.

And they get behind their teams, women included. I remember once a few years back whilst I was working for a large International company. The bosses decided to put a large screen, in the dining room and to play all the games. Every game their was a representative form that country in the company and it made the whole experience that much better than watching it by yourself or with your mates! And seeing Irena, the Brazillian from Accounts almost lose her top when Adriano scored was well worth the £1 donation,  I can tell you!

Wait until you see the rest of the kit!

So surely, with all of this available to us, on our own doorsteps, we should take advantage of what is on offer. The other week whilst on the market I bought a ring form a coupe of Albanian gentlemen (no jokes please). Rather than just pay for my goods and walk away I decided to open the lines of communication and talk to these gentlemen. Now my take on Albanians is from what I learnt in school and what I read in the papers, and let’s just say, they have received more than their fair share of bad press over the years. At one point they were, according to my economics teacher, the most communist country on the planet. So I took a few moments and asked them what it was like in their country, and was everything I heard true. We spoke for about half an hour and as I had questions for them, they had questions for me. They were forthcoming with their comments and very interesting to talk to. Now I know that half of what I had read was wrong, and they talked about what it was like to grow up under such a system. ‘Everybody had the same’ is what one of them said to me and the significance of this didn’t hit me until later that day.

I grew up in a country where the rich were much richer than the poor, where poverty existed on the same streets that millionaires drove Masseratis’ to their mansions! To compare this with a system where no one had anything? Where everyone was ‘equal’?  To be honest, I don’t know who had it wrong but I certainly saw that perhaps what my economics teacher was spouting all those years ago was a little bit biased.
To understand someone you must walk a mile in their shoes and this was no different. I walked away from that stall understanding more about another country than any text book had ever told me and I had received this information first hand.

There was a time when I was able to know exactly where someone was from just by looking at them. Growing up in this country, if I saw another black person they were either from the West Indies, Nigeria or Ghana; Asian, India or Pakistan; White England, ireland, Scotland or Wales, it seemed no other countries were travelling into Britain. Nowadays I couldn’t even throw out a guess, Congolese, Ivorians, Tibetans, Slovenians, Brazillians, you name it they are here and they offer the perfect chance to learn more about other countries in the world. But not everybody feels like this I caught the tale end of a radio interview with a guy who believes that the World Cup is used to distract the public and is only there to take advantage of the people so wrongdoing can commence behind their backs. He believes that like religion, World football is part of a bigger controversy to control the public and turn them into automated capitalists, vying or the latest football shirts, paying obscene amounts for tickets and willing to get involved in some cases with violence to get their ‘footballing political point across!

Maybe so, and I will leave you to decide on that one but in the meantime, the next time you are in town, and the football is on, why not stumble into that bar fall of Slovakians, or the one next to it full of Chileans, or indeed the one down the road full of Denmarkians?? Grab a beer, and learn a bit about a culture that is probably not to different from your own.

So why not take a sip from this world cup and savour the whole experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: