The FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010 has highlighted once again that football is a major force for unity, bringing together passionate fans from every continent.
Despite the broad range of cultures represented by the teams involved, fans of each of the contenders have followed their heroes with an identical passion for the game. And while their enthusiasm has been remarkable, the inspiration and flair they have shown in getting behind their team has been even more striking.
Take the game between TP Mazembe Englebert and Club de Futbol Pachuca, for example, where a group of Congolese fans made an extraordinary entrance into the stadium. The originality of their costumes, the brightness of their face paints and the sounds pouring out of their instruments as they played 'Waka Waka', the official anthem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, all sent a buzz around the ground.
As soon as the Congolese orchestra struck up a tune, the spectators moved closer to better soak up the atmosphere, with local fans in full Arab dress joining in the singing and dancing. The music only came to a stop at the end of the match, won by TP Mazembe thanks in no small part to the energy generated up by their 12th man.
That was certainly the opinion of the Congo DR outfit’s coach, Lamine N'Diaye. "This noise, the music and dancing, encourages us and helps us to become more powerful. It motivates us and helps the players to become better. We felt that everyone, even our opponents, were happy to hear and see our supporters."
The TP Mazembe faithful surprised everyone and even added their own special touch to the encounter between Al-Wahda Sports Club and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma F.C. No fewer than 30,000 spectators took in that match, and the exchanges between the different sets of fans were overwhelmingly positive, echoing the spirit of fair play evident on the pitch.
“The wider public in the Emirates have been getting behind Al Wahda, not just the fans of the club,” explained local supporter Rachid Mohamed afterwards. “That’s what made the atmosphere so good, because we want to do everything we can to make this tournament a success.”
Fans from Brazil have added to the occasion as well, with a large contingent touching down in Abu Dhabi ahead of the semi-final between TP Mazembe and SC Internacional do Porto Alegre. Overall, around 5,000 made the trip to encourage O Colorado in the hope of seeing them add the global crown to their 2010 Copa Libertadores title.
“I’ve had a great time in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” Sport Club Internacional fan Marcelo told FIFA.com. “I’ve never visited a place like this before. It was important for me to come to the Emirates to follow Internacional and it’s a dream come true for me to be here.”
“There’s people from all around the world,” added fellow Brazilian Antonio. “I came with my uncle from Porto Alegre to follow Internacional’s games. I hope the local public will support them, but either way we’ve come in big numbers.”
Antonio’s hopes went unanswered as the neutrals in the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium opted to get behind TP Mazembe, who went on to win their semi-final 2-0. It was undoubtedly the Congolese orchestra that won most of the locals over. After all, the notes they strung together for their team expressed a love of the game understandable in any language.