I once read somewhere that a fascination with football is the narcotic of an East Londoner waiting eagerly to escape into a daydream. Feeling euphoric, he longs for a moment to be part of a bigger whole. But, to what extent is celebrating the success of a team becomes a narcotic for us?
It can be said with an apparent pride that football in England is a religion. While we hold back from labeling the nation as gods in the sport, we associate the nation with those “who brought football upon us” – here in the UAE. Yes, they did, through British soldiers, who were present in the country due to mutual political motives during the early 19th century. Since then, football slowly crept into the lives of the locals compelling them to accept it as part of their lives. The rest was history.
Accomplishments of a team in a different country, a different continent normally does not result in intense celebrations in a country that’s 3.5K miles away.
Of course, it was not the first time that we celebrated the victory of a team as if it was our own national team. Manchester City regaining the title as Premier League Champions was more importantly – a proud moment for the people of United Arab Emirates.
The fortunes of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has given us a sense of irresistible pride as we delve further into the colors of City. Having managed to win a few titles already, the most significant achievement to date was to secure the belief and trust of skeptical City supporters and those who have come to see the club as the next headline maker in the arena of European football, even if their interests are different from Manchester City.
The matter of pride extends to the point where the overwhelming presence of the nation can be visible, in and around the stadium, be it through ad hoardings, gestures towards Sheikh Mansour and so on. Credit goes out to Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who accepted the challenge set by the Sheikh Mansour and worked quickly with great responsibility to win the satisfaction of his English peers, who normally are hard to please.
The country had invested a lot into the club – through principal sponsors Etihad Airways to Etisalat, Aabar and Abu Dhabi Tourism and rightly so with this title win, Manchester City has returned the favor. Their success has triggered an awareness campaign with UAE as a nation, being the chief recipient.
Moreover, there could not be any sight, which could explain the feeling, better than that of several Sheikhs’ from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, celebrating the victory together.
All we have achieved is what any country with similar interests in the same circumstance would have expected to achieve. As media goes cerebral over geometric outcomes, we (the nation) shall enjoy the various perks of being tagged with the champions of the English Premier League.