For this World Cup, TV and newspapers have caught on to the idea of watching the games with people from the countries playing. So if you go somewhere too obvious as a country's meeting point, you bump into Sky News and Five Live, and everyone there is from the media except one poor sod from Honduras, who keeps getting asked, "Can you do a native dance into the camera, mate?"
So rather than watch the final in a famous tapas bar or Dutch pub, I avoided the clichés and watched it in Greenland. The Inuit settlement of Kusuluk (I'm aware you think I'm making this up), has 300 people and a thousand huskies, is surrounded by mountains and icebergs, with one shop, that sells chewing gum, soap and rifles. So it might have been optimistic to ask, "Does anyone know where the Spanish community hangs out?"
But they are connected to the global football structure. Kusuluk play in the East Greenland League, sailing to play five other settlements. They've won twice, so got to fly to the capital, Nuuk, for the All Greenland Finals. At this point, presumably, the manager complained to the press about fixture congestion and demanded action from Fifa.
In one afternoon I saw six Inuit children wearing Manchester United bobble hats, and two adults wearing Man United shirts, and you have to hope no one starts supporting Manchester City or the whole society could be torn apart. The population of a packed Old Trafford, incidentally, is 11,000 more than the whole of Greenland.
There's no bar in the village, so watching matches communally is difficult, though a large crowd did gather in front of the community hall not long before the match, suggesting they might be erecting a giant screen for a fan zone, but it turned out someone had captured a seal.
So Kusuluk's World Cup has been provided by Thorpen, who fixed up three huge satellite dishes a few years ago, to provide European television to the whole village. This clearly worked as a business plan as he has the most desirable residence in the settlement; that will have Kusuluk's estate agents drooling if he sells up.
The one place where you could watch the final collectively was in the small hotel, with two Greenlandic girls supporting Netherlands, and some 70-year-old American tourists. Pam disagreed with the locals, because, "The Netherlands is lousy, honey. I got sent to the Red Light District there once, I had an awful time, believe me, so I'm backing Spain. Is the score zero-zero?"
But Helen was shrieking for the Netherlands, especially when Robben broke through with only the goalkeeper to beat and fluffed his chance. "Oh my God, oh my God, so close," she howled, with such a yelp the locals must have thought we'd caught a seal for ourselves. Then a few seconds later she screamed even louder, "Oh my God he's done it again, the same guy." "That was the replay," I told her, or maybe she was right and by coincidence an identical sequence of play happened twice in a row, and then a third time but much slower.
The commentary was Danish, except the commentator preferred to say nothing, at one point staying silent for four minutes. Was he dead? Or stoned, or moonlighting for a Latvian channel and nipping between the two? During one of these silences a tour guide suddenly said, "Traditionally, Greenlandic houses were so warm the Inuit would sit in the house naked, until the Danish priests ruled it was immoral," which you don't always get from Clive Tyldesley. And if I'd had any influence I'd have gotten Howard Webb to blow the whistle and announce, "Now we're starting this match all over again and this time we're going to watch it properly."
When Iniesta scored Helen stormed out of the room, growling, "No one speak to me for a week," though if she saw it later on the news she'd have thought they'd lost all over again. But in the village no one was quite so upset.Reuse content