Third worst place to watch the World cup: New Zealand.
Despite the heroic performance of the All Whites (no, not a white supremacist group, just the New Zealand football team’s ill-conceived nickname; I imagine it really didn’t go down well in South Africa) against Slovakia and Italy we can only feel sorry for all the poor Kiwis who have to watch everything in the middle of the night due to the 10 hour time difference between there and South Africa.
Second worst place to watch the World cup: North Korea
According to various reports, and the slightly xenophobic English commentators, North Koreans aren’t allowed to watch games unless their team wins; the sports page headlines reflect the Dear Leader’s wishful thinking rather than what happens on the pitch; and players face punishment if they return home empty-handed. While I imagine that most of this is insidious South Korean propaganda, I am fairly sure that North Korea, what with famine, dictatorship, and the constant threat of war, is not where I will find a world cup carnival atmosphere.
First worst place to watch the World cup: Somalia
Not content with declaring war on the government, Somalia’s Islamist militias have also declared war on football. And fun. The World Cup, apparently, is un-Islamic. “We are warning all the youth of Somalia not to dare watch these World Cup matches. It is a waste of money and time and they will not benefit anything or get any experience by watching mad men jumping up and down,” Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Aros, a spokesperson for Hizbul-Islam, said to the BBC. While “mad men jumping up and down” is a rather apt description (I’m thinking of Christiano Ronaldo in particular), it seems unnecessarily cruel to deny long-suffering Somalians even the distraction of a few football matches. And, while I’m not expert, I would certainly challenge their contention that sport is incompatible with Islam. As IslamOnline points out, in response to that exact question, the Prophet Mohammed is reported to have said “”Entertain your hearts, for hearts become blind when they are tired”. In other words, everyone needs some escapism, and the World Cup provides exactly that. This debate is not merely academic; houses in Mogadishu have been raided, and apparently some people have been killed just trying to watch a football match from clandestine satellites. All of which makes Somalian-born rapper K’Naan’s world cup anthem “Waving Flag” all the more poignant; his waving flag, at the world cup concert, was Somalia’s white star on a light blue background (watch it here). An image that few in Somalia would have been allowed to see.