An encounter with a Spain fan at a Qatari house

Khalid Al Saddani
Khalid Al Saddani (right in front) and friends watching the match between Spain and Japan.

I was at the residence of a Qatari man to watch Spain's match against Japan. It was my friend Shajahan, who works as a driver in Doha, who took me to an Arab family when I told him I wanted to watch the match on a big screen TV.

As I was sitting in their living room waiting for the match to start, one man - Khalid Al Saddani - asked me which my favourite team was. Assuming that he would be rooting for the team from Asia, I replied tactically and said Japan. Suddenly, Saddani's smile faded and he shouted, "Get out of this room!" I jumped off the couch as I was taken completely by surprise by his hysterical behaviour. As I stood there wondering what was happening, Saddani, with a wide grin on his face, asked me to sit down.

Saddani is from Kuwait, but he had spent many years in Spain. That is why he has a soft corner for La Roja. To pacify him, I asked whether he was a fan of Barcelona. "No way," pat came the reply. "Then it should be Real Madrid," I said. "Not exactly, I'm a huge fan of Atletico Madrid," Saddani said, grinning from ear to ear. This fellow is a tough nut to crack just like Diego Simeone's defence, I said to myself.

That joke really broke the ice and made us all feel more relaxed and comfortable. The house is owned by a Qatari man – Abdullah Al Bakri – who is Saddani's business partner. Like me, he was there to watch the game. He was around 60, but looked much younger. While all in the Bakri family were wearing traditional Arab attires, Saddani was in a stylish jacket and tracksuit. He was the only one in that room who wanted Spain to win! But, when he was told that Germany will be knocked out of the tournament if Japan win against Spain, he was in a state of perplexity. "I hate Germany. They have been trying to malign Qatar's image at the World Cup." he reasoned.

Finally the match was over. Japan qualified for the Round of 16 while Germany were eliminated. While I was taking my leave, Saddani asked me whether I would be here for the next match. When I told him I won't be able to come as I have to cover Brazil's match, he grinned and said: "For you Keralites, Brazil and Argentina matter most. Everything else is secondary!" 

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