The Yemeni experience of the World Cup [Archives:2006/962/Last Page]

July 10 2006

Fatima Al-Ajel
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Wherever you go in the world, people talk about the World Cup. However, nowadays in Yemen, watching World Cup is limited to a few channels and only those who have them can follow the Cup. Nevertheless Yemeni men and women have their own ways of following the events and the matches.

Jamel Nasser, 21 years old says, “I go to Saban Park with my friends to watch the matches there. Thousands of men go there, so I go early to be near the screen otherwise I will not find a place to sit.” Some people, however, are not interested in watching matches in crowded and noisy places; they prefer to relax whilst watching the World Cup. Majdi Al-Saqqaff said, “I go to a hotel and rent a room which has the channels that show the matches. I pay 2000YR every day to watch the World Cup.”

Yemeni women are also crazy about watching World Cup matches, but unfortunately they don't have the same opportunities to watch the matches as the men do, so they look for ways to watch matches at home. Faten, with her two sisters, says, “On the first day of the World Cup my sisters and I went up to the roof of my house and tried to adjust the satellite to receive the channel that shows the matches. It took us hours to find the channel.” “Everyday we go up to the roof and watch matches there,” Faten added. Arwa and her friends collected money together and bought a new satellite to fix on to the existing one in Arwa's house. “My friends and I meet at my house to watch the matches together and have nice time,” Arwa said.

However, some girls either don't have the channel or can't go out to follow the matches. They just have to wait for the matches' results without watching them. Samah Al-Fasiel commented, “I tried to find the channel by moving the satellite dish but I couldn't, and I don't have time to go to my brother's house to watch the matches there, so I have to call my brother during the matches and he gives me the latest news.”

Many parents were also interested in watching the matches with their kids. Latifiah Al-Azi, a mother of ten, said, “I don't know anything about football, but I like to watch with my kids and see them enjoy the matches, especially the World Cup.”

Ahmed Al-Thabibi, a rich man in his neighborhood, bought a satellite dish and two TVs and opened up his house for his neighbors to watch the matches. Tens of men went to Al-Thabibi's house instead of going to other places further away. When asked why he decided to do this, he replied, “I know how fond my neighbors are of the World Cup and they have been looking forward to this event, and as it is difficult for many people to watch the matches, I promised them I would buy a satellite dish to show the World Cup.”

Due to the electricity cuts, some people bought electricity generators so they would not miss any action from the matches, especially when their favorite team was playing.

Reactions after the match

When watching the World Cup, friends are often divided by the competing teams. At the end of the match, the divide widens. The defeated group starts to make excuses for their team whilst the winning side starts to show off about their team's performance. Haif Al-Saqqaff commented, “I was watching a match with my neighbors in the street and we split up into two teams. At the end of the match, the two groups fought each other and started to shout because the losers said that the winners didn't deserve to win after their unconvincing performance.”

Others made light-hearted wagers whereby the one correctly predicts the match's result can to order the other to do whatever he wants. Brothers Yusif and Hassan support different teams, and they made a wager that if Hassan's team won the match, Yusif would have to run around the neighborhood for two hours. At the end of the match, Hassan's team won and Yusif did as Hassan had ordered him.