In Riyadh, “men, women, children standing on pick-ups with many flags”

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In Riyadh, “men, women, children standing on pick-ups with many flags”

“People expected a lot from this match, there is a real passion around football but no one imagined victory. I had met a government official the day before and he said to me: “I pray that we only lose 2-0”. In the morning, shortly before the game – and which was not planned at all – a royal decree was promoted which announced that all government employees – and here the public domain is very important – could stop working at noon. My floor emptied immediately. Through the windows of our offices, we then saw enormous traffic jams forming.

We continued to work but there were only foreigners and very high dignitaries left in the offices… For the match, we went down to the esplanade of the government district where a fan zone had been set up. Many government employees who had not returned home or had given up due to traffic jams ended up there. There was a great atmosphere. At one point, we went to a restaurant to eat a little something, it was then that there was a huge clamor: it was Saudi Arabia’s second goal. From then on, all the waiters, the cooks, the restaurant employees all went out to see the end of the match…

So we joined them and lived this interminable end of the game. At the final whistle, there was a lot of joy but it remained under control. Nothing to do at the time with, for example, what I had experienced in Reykjavik when at Euro 2016, Iceland had beaten England 2 to 1 in the round of 16… The Icelanders had celebrated until at the end of the night. There, people quietly returned home. But tonight, they came out to celebrate this incredible victory. There are again traffic jams but this time completely crazy because there is no public transport so with men, women, children standing on pick-ups with many flags…

The whole city is paralyzed by traffic jams, all people converge on the central avenue of Boulevard City of Riyadh. A real popular jubilation. Because it is an obvious immense pride for everyone. At the end of the afternoon, we received the 2nd royal decree of the day which decreed that tomorrow was a public holiday. We have been confirmed that the day will be off by everyone, therefore also by private sector employees and students as well as by people at the highest level of the State… But it is up to the feat which no one here had dared to dream of. »

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