World Cup 2010: Strong Rivalry Between Italy And England Soccer Fans In Malta
Malta is a country of 400,000 people and just like in politics, whereby the country is nearly divided between two political parties, so are the majority of soccer fans divided between two teams: Italy and England.
England ruled Malta from 1800 up to 1964, when the country gained Independence, and Malta's roots to the British are too evident to ignore: Malta proudly bears the George Cross on its flag, given by King George VI to the island nation for heroic attitude of the people of Malta during the Second World War.
Although the English language is considered as Malta's second language, everybody in Malta speaks English, from the learned to the lay person. English is taught in schools from kindergarten age, and even toddlers are spoken to in both languages simultaneously.
Italy's southern island Sicily is a stone's throw away from Malta, and ties to the Italians, which were obviously interrupted during WWII, gained strength after the war, and commercial activity between both countries has flourished ever since.
During the seventies and eighties, Maltese people could only view one poor local TV station so tuning in to major Italian TV stations helped the Maltese to learn from, and become more accustomed to Italian flair and style. Italian TV stations are still very popular among the locals today and many young Maltese children have learnt how to speak Italian simply by watching Italian TV.
No-one really knows why the rivalry between Italian and English Soccer supporters is so strong in Malta, but it may simply be because there are too many England and Italy soccer fans on the islands. The other soccer teams that are gaining ground between Maltese soccer supporters are Germany, Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands - but nowhere near the numbers of Italy and England supporters.
The Maltese have a very Mediterranean character they are loud and cheerful, but also passionate about whatever they do.
But the rivalry is taken to another level whenever one of these teams loses a match, the supporters of the other team hit the streets with deafening car-cades to celebrate the loss.
Not very sporting attitude, I hear you say! No, not at all! When England were eliminated against Portugal in World Cup 2006, car-cades of Italian soccer supporters continued throughout the night, and tourists who were not aware of this rivalry did not have a clue as to why Italian soccer fans were celebrating since their team had not played yet!
But while this rivalry may be very annoying to some, it is very amusing to others.
"I just hope Italy are eliminated before the England Squad, that would be satisfying enough, I will tease my workmates and get back at them for World Cup 2006", says England supporter Luke Borg.
"I know we have no chance of winning the world cup again, but I just hope England are eliminated before us, or I won't be able to face my England supporting colleagues!" says Christian Dimech.
Every pub, bar, restaurant, club and entertainment venue in Malta sports big screens and numerous TVs to broadcast the World Cup 2010 soccer matches live.
The official World Cup village, set up on Manoel Island, on the road between Sliema and Ta' Xbiex, has proved to be ever so popular among locals and tourists. Hundreds of soccer fans flock to the venue with their families, and even young children are seen wearing their favourite team's colours and waving flags while supporting their favourite teams.
But there is only one match that Maltese soccer fans would die for England vs Italy. The last time the two squads met in a World Cup match, Italy beat England 2-1 in 1990, on Italian soil.
But seems like these fans will have to wait for another World Cup, as both teams have not had a wonderful start this time round!