"Yo soy español, español, español!" As the buzzer sounded in Johannesburg on the final match of the 2010 World Cup, an entire city 5,000 miles away burst spontaneously into song. From the shirtless kids taking a celebratory jump into the Cibeles fountain to the old men crowded around a 13-inch TV set at their fluorescent-lit corner bar, all of Madrid, it seemed, was chanting the same joyful (if annoyingly repetitive) lyrics. But perhaps no one in the Spanish capital sang with more fervor than Mahbubul Alam. Watching the game through the window of a café in the Lavapiés neighborhood, his entire body shook as he gleefully belted out the words the whole city was singing: "I am Spanish, Spanish, Spanish!" The fact that Alam is Bangladeshi hardly seemed to matter.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
Seated outside with friends, Azhar Abbas, from Pakistan, was ecstatic before the game even began. With a red-and-yellow scarf tied around his neck, and a Spanish flag emerging from his collar, he was sure Spain would win because it was such a good country. "It's not like Germany or Italy where there's discrimination," he said. "Here there's no difference between Spaniards and foreigners." And just in case ethnic tolerance wasn't enough to guarantee victory, he added, "I went to the mosque today and prayed for Fernando Torres."
The scene was much the same at Hasan Keyf's kebab restaurant around the corner. At one point during the evening, the 20 young Moroccan men sipping Fantas at tables draped in Spanish flags broke spontaneously into a chorus of "Viva España." "They're gods of the game," said Mohammed Dauud, in reference to the Spanish team. The 22-year-old had immigrated by himself to Spain from Morocco when he was just 12, and the intervening years explain, he says, his loyalty to the Spanish team. "This is where I live, who I am now," he said. "Of course, Spain is going to be my team." Asked if the same logic meant he was also a supporter of Real Madrid, however, Dauud demurred. "Are you crazy?" he said, shaking his head. "I'm a Barça fan."