Margaretta Pos writes from Italy:

I watched the game between Australia and Italy in an outdoor bar
drinking Parbo Bier – under canvas in case of a downpour. At a table
next to me was an Italian. Bizarre as it seems, a flagbearer for each
team, here in Paramaribo, capital of Surinam in equatoria South America.

My Italian friend was not best pleased to find an Aussie beside him and
I ignored his gestures of displeasure when the Socceroos outplayed his
compatriots. The locals, while soccer mad, were not particularly
interested in this match but enjoyed the spectacle of the odd couple in
their midst.

I felt at home because the auditorium was festooned with green and
gold. Not for Australia, mind you, for Brazil. There are always mixed
feelings about supporting Holland in this former Dutch colony, but a
lot of Surinamers play in Dutch clubs. None was selected for the Cup
team, so the locals can happily barrack (wildly) for their South
American neighbour.

Maybe a good thing I wasn’t here for the game between Australia
and Brazil. But by the end of the Italian clash, the locals were
barracking for us. And some hours later, I passed my Italian in the
street. “Ciaou Australia,” he said. Then: “Ciaou bella!”