Monday, June 21, 2010

yemenis go latino this world cup

It’s 10 pm. Behind the Great Mosque, in the back alleys of the old city of Sana’a, all is dark. But at the foot of a tall house in ruins, a make-shift cafe has sprung up. Cheers resound from inside. Behind the iron door, on mismatching carpets and improvised elbow rests, men of all ages are watching football.

Tonight, in South Africa’s World Cup 2010, Denmark is playing Cameroon.

Mohammad Faraj, 28, says that he built the cafe - a concrete block wall, iron door and colorful tarpaulin sheets for the roof - for his friends to see the Spanish League games and then the World Cup. Entry is YR 100, so that someone can clean it in the morning.

So who are all the men inside rooting for this evening? “Cameroon!” comes the resounding answer. “Definitely not Denmark!” The 2006 Danish cartoons of Prophet Mohammad that caused such controversy in the Muslim world are still fresh in these men’s minds.

“It was a while ago, but then they repeated the insult,” said Saleh Ghuthaim, 35, the owner of the ruins on which the cafe popped up.

Instead Ghuthaim and his son Hussein, 13, who plays football at the Al-Wahda Club in Sana’a, hope that Spain or Argentina will win the world title.

Of course, says Ghuthaim, they are supporting Algeria as the only Middle Eastern team in the international tournament, but for them “there is really no hope.”

To read the whole article as published in the Yemen Times, click here.

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