Saturday, December 29, 2007
Ok, so I think I finally have time to do this night justice, even though it happened so long ago.
As with most of the world outside North America, football is a really big deal in Sudan. When we heard that the championship cup was going to be played in Omdurman, the city right across the river from Khartoum, we decided we had to go. E, D (taking the photo) and I crossed over around 6pm, and had some really good pizza before we made our way to the stadium. We sat in the expensive area (tickets were $30USD) so we had actual seats, as opposed to the other areas with bench seating.
The stadium is divided in half, with each half reserved for supporters of one team (including separate entrances), with police enforcing the division. D is a lifelong Al-Hilal fan, so we were sitting in the blue and white section. As you can see, someone thought my shirt was a little too close to the Merrikh red, and insisted that I wear a hat.
The game was really interesting to watch, and so were the stands. The style of play was very exuberant, with similarities to a Latin American game more so than the more structured European game. Both teams were more likely to boot and chase than to use chains of passes to move the ball up the field.
As for the crowd, people really supported their teams! The Al-Hilal side had people (like 100) climbing the light standards to get a better view! (We were trading possible headlines upon the event of a collapse, but everyone lived to see another day.) Every goal involved confetti and burning newspaper (!) on the side of the scoring team. The crowd seemed almost alive with emotion, chanting for players, and against the opposing team and their coaches!
There were more police at this event than I've ever seen in one place before (this is only a small proportion, but I've obviously lived a quiet life as far as the law is concerned). We didn't stick around to see what happened next, but it was a great night!