Experiencing football fever in Guatemala is a lot like being surrounded by football fanatics back home in England, in that the populations of both countries tend to get very excited about a sport that, when it comes down to it, their national teams really aren’t very good at.
England, embarrassingly for a country with perhaps the longest-running history of playing modern-day football, hasn’t won the football world cup since 1966. Added to that, we haven’t even managed to win the EUFA European Championship once in its 54 year history. Nevertheless, around this time before each world cup you will hear an endless array of unintelligible theories (to the football novice, anyway) from hopeful Englishmen about why this year England will definitely take the cup home. Only to then watch the national team perform abysmally and be consequently forced to blame the poor result on the obviously biased referee, or the dodgy tactics of the conquering team.
Guatemala, for all their valiant efforts, have sadly never even made it through the world cup qualifiers (although, supposedly that will all change if Guatemalans are to believe Presidential hopeful Antonio Baldizón´s absurd promises & vote him through to president at next year´s general election). To add insult to the injury of coming oh-so-close to qualifying this time round, Guatemala were beaten by a country where football is so unimportant it is not even called by its real name. In the subsequent 2013 Copa Centroamericana, Guatemala landed themselves in sixth place, managing to best only Nicaragua, the sole Central American country where football is superseded by baseball as the nation´s most popular sport.
With such dubious track records in football, one is left wondering why the populations of both countries don´t get as fanatical about sports that they are actually good at, like darts for England (an excellent choice for us Brits as it can be both played & watched live without ever having to leave the pub) or the 20 kilometre race-walk for Guatemala (go Erick Barrondo!!).
But regardless of its seeming lack of logic, football fever is here & it´s here to stay in Guatemala for June & July 2014, and one cannot help but fail to resist the infectious atmosphere & join in the fun.
But if you´re sadly left like Guatemalans without a national team to support, or if you´re one of those people who are less interested in the actual football & more attracted to the beer drinking, profanity shouting and ludicrous chanting that so famously accompany the games – the big question is: which team to throw your support behind this world cup? To help you with this momentous decision, here are some top tips on which team(s) to support & make the most out of spending the 2014 World Cup here in Guatemala:
For starters, deciding to support the USA is probably not the best of ideas, given that they destroyed Guatemala´s dreams of qualifying for the World Cup this time round. So, apologies North American readers & friends, but your team has got to go dooown this World Cup, and Guatemalans will no doubt be found cheering at your demise. Don´t take it personally!
For the aforementioned reasons, England is also probably not the best choice of teams to throw your support behind. But then again, if it’s comedy you´re after: who doesn´t enjoy laughing at Wayne Rooney for a solid 90 minutes?
Holland could definitely be a good shout, given that if they win the cup you can be assured of being rewarded free drinks by the lovely owners of Salon Tecun. Just make sure you wear orange to show your solidarity.
You could always throw your support behind Cameroon, since they perhaps have the most insane fans of them all – giving you extra license to go off the rails. And who knows, perhaps the magic of their famous marabouts will work out for them this time round?
But then, let’s face it – glory supporter or not – who can’t help but be seduced by the Brazilians?
Nonetheless, despite their less-than-spectacular track-record, you’ll find this lowly supporter cheering on the English team through to victory. Well, hopefully at some point in this lifetime at least.