Living the Football Dream!

Needless to even mention that my poor blog has been lying un-updated (I just coined a new word!) and forgotten in some dusty, forsaken corner of the blogosphere. Anyhow, I am making up for it in this post.

Those of you who know me personally will know that I am a devoted football fan, despite the fact that I don’t make a noisy show of  it. I recently had the miraculous opportunity to attend the match that I had bee anticipating for the past six months … one that I could only dream of watching with my very own eyes at the stadium: The FIFA Club World Cup final.

The tournament was being hosted by our very own Abu Dhabi (where else?) for the second consecutive year. This year, we witnessed Inter Milan as UEFA champions and FIFA Club World Cup finalists. But more about that later.

Fate was on my side it seemed, and my brother and I made a last-minute decision and managed to salvage two e-tickets to the match for 3rd place and the final on the night of Saturday the 18th of December.

Little did I know that night, history would be made in front of my very eyes.

We arrived in time to see hundreds of fellow spectators streaming into the stadium at Zayed Sports City. We were rather amused to see that we looked like the only sane people in a sea of screaming fans, some of them dressed as Vikings, others as football players … we even saw somebody dressed as a football. Seriuosly.The teams playing for 3rd place were the Brazilian SC Internacional and the South Korean Seongnam Ilhwa FC.

Sadly, football fans in the UAE rarely cheer for the underdog so the majority of fans were dressed as players from SC Internacionale, with some lazy people simply wearing any old football jersey. I mean, why the heck would you wear an England jersey or a jersey that says ‘Messi’ at the back to a match between a Brazilian and South Korean team? 

It was disappointing to see only a handful of  Korean supporters at the match. The very few who were there were quiet, civil people, who were hardly noticeable and didn’t make themselves heard at all. No wonder poor Seongnam lost to SC that night (the score was 4:2). They must have felt very unsupported on the pitch. The match was rather boring, to be honest, although there were some funny highights. SC player Tinga was responsible for two goals, I think, and most of the action on the pitch. That player has attitude, seriously. I remember Tinga and a Seongnam player simultaneously attempting to headbutt the ball … neither ended up hitting the ball but instead smacked into his opponent’s head! Sheer hilarity! An SC player actually got yellow-carded (I think he did … it isn’t as clear at the staduim like on TV) for doing this ridiculous somersault for no apparent reason and landed on his back, sprawling. Well, of course that would have hurt! You can check out the details for that match right here on the FIFA website.

Brazil's SC Internacional do Porto Alegre soccer player Alecsandro, front, is challenged by South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa Kim Sung Hwan during FIFA Club World Cup mach for the 3rd place in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday Dec. 18, 2010. Photo: Kamran Jebreili / AP

One thing that surprised me was the amount of work going on off the field, behind the scenes. This is the stuff that we don’t see on TV … like, for example, I always thought that when a ball was kicked outside the boundaries the same ball was thrown back. Well, it isn’t … there is actually a whole group of ball boys positioned conveniently around the pitch. if a ball happens to fly past a ball boy, he chucks another ball to the nearest player rather than running after the previous ball and throwing it back. How many balls did these guys have? A few hundred, apparently!

At the end of that match the poor Seongnam goalie looked so sad I felt like going up to him and giving him a big hug just so that he would cheer up. Anyhow, by this time the Inter fans were beginning to stream in even though there was still more than an hour before even the closing ceremony (yet more Vikings came in … this time dressed in white, black and blue). This post is becoming rather long and probably a little difficult to read, so I’ll continue about the final and closing ceremony in the next post.

Keep reading! 🙂

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