In Cuba, We Breathe the World Cup

The world is a football. With the end of the leagues on the old continent, people’s mouths are watering in Cuba. On 11 June, something great starts: the World Cup in South Africa.

Already in the sports clubs, they are setting up sweepstakes. Brazil, as usual, has the advantage in the betting. Mauricio, 32, a hotel worker in Saratoga, bet 50 convertible pesos that the Brazilians would lift their sixth World Cup.

“If they win, Dunga’s eleven will let me pocket 500 convertible pesos. A group of ten people each decided to go for our preferred teams. I know that Brazil is going have the upper hand,” he said optimistically, while preparing an Alexander cocktail at the bar of a downtown Havana hotel.

Spain and Lionel Messi’s Argentina are the other two great heavyweights that Cuban fans have fallen in love with.

The team selection of the mustachioed Vicente del Bosque, with his successful mid-field game and predatory strikers (such as “El Niño” Torres, “The Kid” Villa, and Pedrito, of Barcelona), has a strong likelihood of lifting the Jules Rimet trophy of beaten gold.

It’s now or never for Spain. Never before have they had much chance of being world champions. But Argentina is Argentina. And when you have a player like Messi with more than enough talent, it doesn’t matter that they have as controversial, unpresentable and pathetic a manager as Diego Armando Maradona.

Italy and Germany also have fans on the island. The Blues (the Italians) with their tough and nasty game don’t win any applause, but they are the reigning champions and are always a rival to watch out for. Germany has a rational and efficient team, like any product made in Germany.

The Germans seem like robots. Because they sweat, you realise that they are human. They run up and down, neatly, as if they were the military. The centre field players have the physique of NBA players and wingers thrash up and down the entire game. Watch them like German tanks.

The France of “Scarface” Ribery has supporters on the island, but not many. We also have the Clockwork Orange Dutch. They’re better than “The Tulips” — the team from Holland — but they lack that bit of luck mixed with a good pair of balls which is what brings victory in the end.

In Cuba, with a lack of good sporting events, we eagerly await the Cup. In these humid days, sports fans have nothing to watch on TV. The crazy ones on the patio dream that one day Cuba may be present in a World Cup. It will be difficult.

The football that is practiced in the green cayman is mean and coarse. Like eleven tough guys trying to play a violin. They look like wrestlers. They are athletes running around the court without rhyme or reason. Puppets who mistook their trade.

We will have to wait many years to see a national team in a World Cup. Since 1938, Cuba has not been involved. So the solution of enthusiasts of the beautiful game is to support any other team that takes part in the South African World Cup.

Habaneros, orphans of good football, bet on the concrete and magical touch of the green and yellows (the Brazilians), the magic of the white and blues (Argentina) or the compelling game of the red fury (Spain). They believe that any one of them could be the champions. There is no room for the others.

Iván García

Photograph: Aris Gionis, Flickr

Translated by: CIMF