About ten street sellers got together to watch the Argentina-Saudi Arabia encounter in the World Cup games in the Maeen area, in the center of Yemen’s capital Sanaa. One of the sellers got a notebook and set it down on some paper on the floor, and the men, who make their living by selling veggies or illicit gasoline, gathered around it.
The viewers briefly put their problems aside as they watched the game under the shadow of a building, some upright and some reclining, with the occasional onlooker pausing to watch a few minutes of the game. Every time a goal came, the men leapt and yelled.
Football is unparalleled joy, according to Messi supporter Abdulrahman Nasser, who appeared to be in his 30s. It is a formula that can raise one’s happiness and make its followers less concerned with their own issues.
The World Cup has provided many Yemenis with a pleasant diversion and discussion starter.
Their discussions and meetings focused on politics and the conflict, according to a 40-year-old independent cab driver in Sanaa. Customers came to see Qatar and Ecuador’s opening match of the tournament. “Today, though, the World Cup has replaced that conversation in our minds, and staying current on it has become a key concern.”
Yemen has been ravaged by an eight-year conflict, which has killed thousands of people and caused a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations-mediated cease-two fire’s warring parties were unable to reach an agreement in October to extend it.
Many Yemenis still enjoy football despite the suffering the conflict has caused.
Football Lessens the Pains
Nearly all of the customers in the coffee shop supported Qatar. Therefore, several spectators smacked their foreheads with their palms in fury as Ecuador struck its first goal 16 minutes after the kick-off.
The fact that Qatar ultimately lost 2-0 did not lessen the sense of astonishment and joy that many in attendance felt about the unprecedented World Cup hosting of Arab nation.
In anticipation of the World Cup, local cafes and the Department of Youth and Sports installed watching screens.
Sports stadiums in Sanaa have viewing areas, while Taiz, a city located around 161 miles away from Sanaa in the south, has outdoor monitors in 10 districts. Screens were set up in a variety of Marib city neighborhoods, around 107 kilometers northeast of Sanaa. All across the war, the city has served as a haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced individuals.
Saleh claimed that Yemenis are infatuated with the game, which helped to explain why the games in Qatar was so well-attended. “I don’t care if it’s tennis, volleyball, or any other sport. And millions of Yemenis are affected by this position,” he added.
Saleh watched the opening day of the competition at home with his family. “We made an effort to complete our responsibilities for the day before the opening ceremony and the first game. It was a wonderful period that was both joyful and tense. It is tight since we have a certain team to support in every game.
Leila Amri, a 34yo Sanaa resident and recent university graduate, claims that Qatar did not prepare for the event overnight. Years of effort, teamwork, and tenacity were required. This should serve as a reminder to all sides engaged in conflict in Yemen that violence and hatred will never lead to the peace or development of our nation.