Mark Steel: Even in Greenland, passions run deep for the Oranje and La Roja

The population of a packed Old Trafford, incidentally, is 11,000 more than the whole of Greenland

Related Topics

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.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London