Myanmar: World Cup Reactions

The 2010 World Cup craze is also felt in Myanmar. Football fans in Myanmar are cheering for their favorite teams and many are staying up late at night to watch the midnight matches. Bars, restaurants and tea shops are showing World Cup matches to attract customers.

Football fans living in Yangon are happy that electricity became more regular, so they were able to watch the football matches. However, some areas still faced electricity shortages. Maung, who had come back to Myanmar wrote:

While I was in Japan, I was able to watch the Group Matches daily together with my friends. However, just when more interesting matches were being played, I came back to Myanmar. I felt the urge to knock on the doors of neighbours who were running electric generators and request to watch matches there.
I sit down.. I stand up.. I curse. I've only been back to Myanmar for a day or two, and I am now experiencing how it feels like to live in Myanmar. Later, I got an idea, which is to go to downtown area, and watch football matches at a beer pub that were showing the matches.

Many Burmese females are also big fans of the World Cup. They followed match results, and posted them on social network sites such as Facebook. Thet Wai, a female Burmese living in Singapore, wrote in one of her posts:

The event that fans have all been waiting for, World Cup, will start soon. Not considering whether I will have time to watch or not, whether I will be able to watch or not, I registered to Singtel MiO TV channel, just like everybody else. Because of the early bird special discounts, I was able to get a S$24 discount.

Before registering at SingTel, my husband asked me whether I will really be able to stay up late and night, and watch the matches. As a person who is very interested in sports, I replied in jest, “I will watch it no matter what time. What I am interested in is school work and sports!”

Unlike Singapore, fans in Myanmar were able to watch the live matches free of charge because football matches were aired on two state-owned TV channels: MRTV and Myawaddy.

“It is quite exciting to watch the Word Cup from the first match to the final on my screen at home for the first time,” said a soccer fan in Rangoon, reported by Irrawaddy Media.

However, Myawaddy channel was not able to show a few of the matches between June 18 to June 21st due to “technical difficulties“, angering many fans. So fans had to watch the matches that came on MRTV. The problem was resolved after June 22nd.

During the World Cup matches, a few weekly journals were allowed to issue a daily World Cup sports journals and were popular among fans. Premier Eleven Sports Journal also sent its Editor-in-Charge to Johannesburg for live coverage of the World Cup event, and Eleven Media launched a World Cup Special news site in Burmese language.

Many Burmese bloggers wrote World Cup-related posts such as 11 Dreams, who shared with his readers images of the 10 stadiums where World Cup matches are held. Many were overjoyed that there were 2 Myanmar females in Shakira's Waka Waka music video. Htoo Tayzar wrote:

I heard that there were Burmese people in the music video, so I watched it carefully. I read in the interview that there were 3 sisters in the video. Yes, that's right: you can see in the back, and at the right that they were wearing blue and purple. They were wearing Burmese traditional blouse and longyi.

Nay Nay Naing shared videos and lyrics of the World Cup theme songs, and wrote:

In the past, I rooted for a certain team, and hoped that certain team will win. How about now? Don't ask… I will root for the team that wins! :))

However, some will be waiting for the time when the World Cup is over. Sales of state lottery have fallen since last week, and Burmese traditional dance troupes had to postpone their shows until after the World Cup.

As Myo Thein wrote in Mizzima's editorial,

Those who have been claiming that they will enter the 2010 Elections are silent during this World Cup era. Because of the seduction of Jabulani World Cup ball (meaning “Rejoice” in Zulu), the minds of the people will be in South Africa until July 11.

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