Euro Cup engrosses Yemeni youth
In preparation for the UEFA Euro 2012 soccer tournament, which kicked off June 8, the owners of clubs and cafes worked to accommodate those coming to watch matches.
Young people who watch the Euro Cup matches at cafes or clubs rather than at home gather with friends and neighbors, adding to the excitement and allowing them to enjoy the matches more, according to Najib al-Mahbobi.
Many Yemenis regard the tournament as the biggest, most entertaining and most important football tournament ever.
"We enjoy watching the matches, especially during qat sessions,” Abdul-Naser al-Rifi said. “We follow the tournament with passion and suspense because it provides us with the highest amount of football entertainment.”
For al-Rifi, it's even more important than the World Cup because, he said, it showcases the most powerful teams in the world.
"As a matter of fact, I cheer England's team, and I expect the three lions' team (England) to win the tournament," al-Rifi said.
Rauf al-Nashari, another fan, said, "It's worth following up on the Euro Cup because all the teams participating in it are strong, and there is no imbalance in their performances, so any team can win the cup."
"In this tournament, we see small teams go neck-to-neck with big teams and defeat them as opposed to the World Cup, in which there is a big gap in the teams' performances so that big teams knock out weak teams easily in the first round," al-Nashari said.
Arab players strongly present at Euro Cup
Ataf Mauda said Arab players are strongly present in the competition, representing European countries.
"Players of Arab descent are the pillars of two of the strongest teams in the Euro Cup,” he said. “In the French team, there are four Arab players: Karim Banzema, Samir Nasri, Hatem Ben Arfa and Adil Rami, while the Netherlands team includes three Arab footballers: Ibrahim Afellay, Adam Mahar and Khalid Boulahrouz. Not to forget Sami Khedira, who plays on the German team.”
According to Mauda, there’s a possibility “Holland or France might win the cup with the help of the Arab players.”
Ascandar Abdu, a sports journalist, said the tournament is one of the most watched and most followed by Yemenis.
"I watch the matches with great interest, and I pay special attention to how the international agencies cover and report on the events of the tournament." Abdu said.
Najib al-Mahbobi, a fan from Aden, said, "I enjoy these days watching the matches of the European Cup."
"The reason I'm passionate about this tournament is because I get to see my favorite footballers, who play for the biggest EU clubs, and also get to learn new techniques and maneuvers for playing football," he said.
"My favorite team is France, though I realize that it's not in its best shape and state currently. The French players are very young when compared to the other teams' players." Al-Mahbobi added.
He admitted that he does not watch the local league because, according to him, it suffers from technical weakness, poor officiating, bad organization and frequent time and date delays. In addition, because games are long, fans become bored.
Many young people stress that the football tournament is a good opportunity for entertainment as well as for getting to know other cultures, traditions and customs. They said watching fans cheering for their teams shows a lot about that country’s culture and traditions.