Malta secured its second point at the UEFA Nations League yesterday after drawing with Azerbaijan for the second time thanks to an early goal by Rowen Muscat. The courageous effort put up by the boys in white in Baku had the national team celebrating after the match, but some people still found something to talk (read: complain) about.
A celebratory photo showing Malta’s national football team cheering behind a tower of around two dozen pizza boxes went viral last night, amassing over 1,000 reactions, nearly 200 comments, and more than 100 shares in just over 12 hours. And while many congratulated the team on their plucky show, others were quick to point out some of the issues they had with the photo.
“Did they win the World Cup?” one user asked. “Because I don’t celebrate like that after a draw.” Other users, on the other hand, pointed at the pizzas, saying it highlighted how unhealthy and “typically Maltese” the whole photo looked.
“Will leave this just here,” one person said, sharing a similar post-match celebratory photo, this time from a fruit-filled Juventus changing room. “Then you question why lose to a country with a population of circa 50,000.”
However, it didn’t take long for MFA’s Director of Communications to weigh in with some important context
“This is interesting,” Kevin Azzopardi from Malta Football Association remarked on Facebook. Accompanying his post were a number of screenshots from international media, highlighting some of the post-match snacks enjoyed by some of the largest and most popular teams in the world.
From Lionel Messi’s pizza-loving habits to Gerard Pique’s Nutella sandwiches, Azzopardi proved that post-match carb-loading is actually a very common occurrence in high-octane sport like football.
Some of the screenshots also made reference to particular events such as the notorious ‘Battle of the Buffet’ which had seen staff from Manchester United and Arsenal get involved in a post-match brawl. On that fateful day in 2004, in fact, Spanish professional Cesc Fàbregas had even thrown a slice of pizza at former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
One last screenshot continued to highlight that not only is pizza common in changing rooms around the world, but is also the “most wanted” amongst the players of one of the biggest clubs out there, Barcelona.
Coming to the defence of the Maltese national football team, people told Azzopardi to not take heed of the negative comments and to stay #UnitedForMalta.
With two matches left (against Kosovo and Faroe Islands on the 17th and 20th November respectively), Malta is currently last in League D’s Group 3 with two points, both of which were gained from the reds’ matches against Azerbaijan.
The two matches will both be played on home turf at Ta’ Qali, with Malta looking to narrow the gap of the previous scores of 3-1 against both Faroe Islands and Kosovo.