With the highly-anticipated finals for the UEFA Euro 2020 happening within days, Maltese social media is being flooded with support for both Italy and England – however, questions are being raised over the passionate support some high-ranking government and political figures are showing for other countries.
“It would be better if you figured out how to fix our national team and support them as the poor state it’s in reflects the state of the nation. What do I care for the Italian or English teams,” the ever-outspoken Mark Camilleri said beneath a post by Labour Party deputy leader for party affairs Daniel Micallef.
Micallef had posted an image showing his support for the Italian team – however, many questioned why such a high-ranking official would support another nation.
On a slightly different vein but on the same topic, theatre director Philip Leone Ganado pointed out the hypocrisy of certain Maltese government officials who denigrate people who speak in English… only to be the first to support England and wear English garb.
“They make literal careers out of deriding any use of the English language as un-Maltese and then they rock up in England kits and England flags and yell it’s coming home as if they lived in Birmingham not Birżebbuġa,” he said.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Daniel Micallef, an avid football fan, explained his approach to supporting teams.
“For football fans like me, it’s a childhood dream to be able to support Malta, my own country in high profile competitions,” he said.
“One of my fondest football memories is standing on my father’s shoulders at Ta’ Qali after Carmel Busuttil scored against Michel Preud’homme against Belgium – back then rated as the world’s top goalkeeper. Belgium competed in the 1994 World Cup a few months after and now stands at the top of Fifa’s rankings.”
“I personally see nothing wrong in supporting foreign teams, given Malta did not qualify – and never has.”
“Hopefully I’ll live to see that day – I would walk it if I have to up to Wembley if Malta were in the final next Sunday,” he ended.
Historically, Maltese football fans have always had a major affinity to both the Italian teams as well as English teams, considering the island’s close ties to each country. However, with more and more focus on local athletes and teams and more stars emerging from Malta than ever before, the time when the national team hits the global stage may be closer than expected.
What do you make of Maltese football fans’ support of foreign teams?