World Cup Final: Waka Waka, Pakistan Edition. Will Mithu the Parrot beat Paul the Octopus?

Posted on July 11, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Sports
24 Comments
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Adil Najam

The anticipation for the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup final is universal. Even in countries like Pakistan which are nowhere on the world football map, the excitement is palpable. Pakistan’s team may not be competing, but Pakistani parrot Mithu is competing with Germany’s octopus Paul and Singapore’s parrot Mani (originally from Malaysia, one is told) for who gets the final winners right. All three have gotten the previous critical games (including the semi-finals) right. For the finals, Paul the German octopus selects Spain as the likely winner, but both the parrots – Mithu from Pakistan and Mani from Singapore – prefer the Netherlands, the team in orange!

But in Pakistan, things become serious only when we mix politics into them. Here, then, is the Pakistani version of Shakira’s Waka Waka; via Hum Sub Umeed Say Hain:

Note the lyrics, and their ‘Pakistaniness’ in the second half of and at the end of the video!

Of course, Pakistan’s Football Central is Lyari. If I had a choice to watch this year’s final between the Netherlands and Spain anywhere in the world – including in the Netherlands or Spain – I would probably choose Lyari. But that, obviously, is a factor of my own Pakistaniat and no offense in meant to either Spain or the Netherlands.

The problem, of course, is that (at least till now) for the Pakistani fan – and especially the Lyari fan – the pinnacle of football has to be between Argentina and Brazil. Maybe, the Italians and a few others can be considered, but not too many others. But Lyari fans learn fast, and makeshift Spanish and Dutch flags are already up in Lyari (picture above ). But their hearts, it seems, still beat for Brazil and Argentina. Here, for example, are excerpts from a story after Brazil lost their game but Argentina had yet to be kicked out; from the Express Tribune:

… Argentinean supporters, however, rallied in the streets and celebrated the football hegemons’ loss with dhol and ariel firing. “The World Cup is over, now I just want Argentina to lose as well,” said Mohammad, a die-hard Brazilian fan. “I couldn’t eat or sleep after the match. I don’t know how I am going to go out on the street. I had my hopes on Brazil, but now I can see the Argentinean supporters celebrating our defeat. It’s heart-breaking.”

More than 500 football spectators sat in the Lal Buksh football club in Baghdadi, Lyari where a 40×30 screen was set up so these enthusiasts could watch the Brazilian team play. While Mohammad lost sleep, Bashir, a 50-year-old shopkeeper, lost 50,000 rupees for betting on the Brazillian side... In Lyari, the ratio of betting on the Brazilian side was 7:1. This meant that someone betting on Brazil would risk Rs. 7,000 while the person betting on the weaker team would risk Rs1,000, according to Dawood Mandro, a football fanatic.

…In Lyari, the tension between Brazilian fans and Argentinean fans usually gets the better of everyone. Most residents support Brazil but the remaining fans are Argentinean supporters, which makes Argentina the second most favourite side in the World Cup.

Although a Gallup Pakistan poll suggests that only 30 percent of Pakistanis have seen a FIFA World Cup game this year, and despite the fact that the ball used in the World Cup does not come from Pakistan this year, the World Cup does seem to have paid off some dividends for Pakistan. Details from a Dawn news report:

Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has signed a sponsorship contract worth Rs15 million from a Sialkot-based soccer goods manufacturing firm, Dawn learnt on Monday. The development brings with it a major monetary boost for the federation, which is currently in the grips of financial difficulties in order to generate revenue through sponsors for not just the national team but for holding local league matches as well. PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Lodhi told Dawn on Monday: “We have successfully managed to get sponsorship for national events from a Sialkot-based football manufacturing firm that’s also under contract with FIFA. The company will provide a complete football kit along with shoes and kit bag to the players.” … He said: “They [sponsoring firm] will also provide 3,000 footballs for the senior and youth league matches. The sponsors have also ensured a supply of FIFA-recommended footballs for the national soccer team.”

One last interesting references to Pakistan in a FIFA Football World Cup story actually comes from a Wall Street Journal blog, where a story about the Germany vs. England game was titled “Football’s ‘India vs. Pakistan.'” Here are some excerpts from Paul Beckett’s story:

It is standard for newspapers, including ours, to include the following sentence in almost any story about India and Pakistan: The two countries have fought three wars since Independence in 1947.

You do not read the same about England and Germany: The two countries have fought two World Wars since 1914.

Except at times like this.

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24 responses to “World Cup Final: Waka Waka, Pakistan Edition. Will Mithu the Parrot beat Paul the Octopus?”

  1. Mithu fan says:

    I still love Mithu. Even if got the final wrong :-)

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  3. Pasha says:

    Nice post. Loved the Pakistani touch to the WC. Sometimes Pakistani blogs seem as if nothing except politics happens in Pakistan. This was a refreshing change.

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